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Surgical Nurse

Surgical nursing is also referred to as perioperative nursing or operating room nursing.  In this position, you job is to care for patients during their entire surgical experience, before, during, and after their procedure.  The surgical nurse job description includes corresponding with family members during and after surgical procedures, assisting in recovery procedures, educating family and patients as to aftercare practices, monitoring patients vitals and care during surgery, and maintaining a sterile operating room environment. 

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How to Become a Surgical Nurse

A medical surgical nurse is a registered nurse with a bachelors of science in nursing as well as a certification in perioperative nursing. To begin your education for surgical nursing, you will need your RN. This can be done by at obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Once you have finished your bachelors nursing program, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX RN).  This enables you to work as a registered nurse.

Some individuals obtain their RN by first getting an associate of science in nursing followed by their nursing licensure exam.   This enables you to begin working after only two years of schooling. With this approach, your next step would be to enter a bridge program entitled RN-to-BSN. In this type of bachelors nursing program, your credits from your associates degree are applied to your bachelors.  The benefit of an RN to BSN nursing program is that you may start working as an RN while you obtain your bachelors degree. It’s a difference of about two years.  Before you enter nursing school, check for programs such as this. 

There is also a bridge program entitled RN-to-MSN in which you apply your RN to a masters of science in nursing. For surgical nursing students, a perioperative nursing specialty may be offered through your nursing school.  With a nursing masters degree, options also include Clinical Nurse Specialist – Certified Perioperative (CNC), NP, Perioperative Services (Nurse Practitioner), or PA (Physicians Assistant).  These three nursing jobs are some of the highest paying in the nursing/medical field. 

Certifications for Surgical Nurses

After gaining experiencing working in an emergency room or surgical setting, you will need to take your CNOR certification exam (Certified Nurse Operating Room) through the Association of Perioperative Nurses (AORN).  This effectively makes you a certified medical surgical nurse. 

Surgical Nurse Salary

For all nursing jobs, your salary is solely based on your level of education and experience. A registered nurse with an ASN (associate of science in nursing) can make around $45,000 per year. In contrast, a physicians assistant can make upwards of $120,000 per year. When you earn nursing certifications that specialize your training and abilities, you also increase your earning and hiring potential.  Medical surgical nursing is an excellent career that tends to pay well, relative to your degree as a nurse.