Operating room nurses (OR nurses) are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in the care of patients before, during, and after surgery. They work closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other surgical team members to ensure that patients have a safe and successful surgical experience.
Duties and Responsibilities of an Operating Room Nurse
OR nurses have a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including:
- Preoperative care: OR nurses assess patients prior to surgery to determine their overall health and fitness for surgery. They also educate patients and their families about the surgical procedure and what to expect postoperatively.
- Intraoperative care: During surgery, OR nurses assist the surgeon by passing surgical instruments and supplies, monitoring the patient’s vital signs, and maintaining a sterile environment. They may also be responsible for administering medications and fluids to the patient as needed.
- Postoperative care: After surgery, OR nurses monitor the patient’s recovery in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). They also provide pain management and comfort care, and educate the patient and family about post-operative care instructions.
- Assessing the patient: OR nurses assess the patient’s overall health and fitness for surgery. This includes reviewing the patient’s medical history, performing a physical examination, and ordering any necessary diagnostic tests.
- Preparing the patient for surgery: OR nurses prepare the patient for surgery by shaving the surgical site, cleaning it with an antiseptic solution, and draping the patient with sterile sheets. They may also start an IV line and insert a urinary catheter.
- Assisting the surgeon: OR nurses assist the surgeon by passing surgical instruments and supplies. They may also hold retractors to expose the surgical site and suction fluids away from the surgical field.
- Monitoring the patient’s vital signs: OR nurses monitor the patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate, throughout the surgery. They also watch for any signs of complications.
- Assessing the patient’s recovery: OR nurses monitor the patient’s recovery in the PACU. They check the patient’s vital signs, pain level, and consciousness. They also monitor the patient for any signs of bleeding or infection.
- Providing pain management and comfort care: OR nurses provide pain management and comfort care to patients after surgery. They may administer pain medications, apply ice or heat packs, and reposition the patient.
- Educating the patient and family: OR nurses educate the patient and family about post-operative care instructions. This includes information about wound care, pain management, and activity restrictions.
Salary of an Operating Room Nurse
The median salary for OR nurses in the United States is $73,000 per year. However, salary can vary depending on a number of factors, including experience, education, certifications, and location.
How to Become an Operating Room Nurse
To become an OR nurse, you must first complete a nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Once you have graduated and passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), you will be a licensed RN.
To become an OR nurse, you must also have experience working in a hospital setting. Many OR nurses gain this experience by working as a medical-surgical nurse or a critical care nurse. Once you have the necessary experience, you can apply for OR nurse positions.
In addition to experience, some OR nurse positions may require additional certifications. The most common certification for OR nurses is the Certified Operating Room Nurse (CNOR) certification. To obtain the CNOR certification, you must pass an exam administered by the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI).
Operating room nursing is a challenging but rewarding career. OR nurses play a vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of patients undergoing surgery. If you are interested in a career in OR nursing, be sure to get the necessary education, experience, and certifications.
What are the benefits of being an OR nurse?
OR nurses enjoy a number of benefits, including:
- Competitive salaries and benefits
- Opportunities for advancement
- A challenging and rewarding career
- The satisfaction of helping patients through surgery and recovery
What are the job prospects for OR nurses?
The job outlook for OR nurses is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of OR nurses will grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.