How Do I Become an Operating Room Nurse?
Operating room nurses, also called perioperative nurses, assist surgeons by handing them surgical tools, keeping the operating room organized and caring for patients. Read on to find out the typical duties of an operating room nurse as well as the education and licensure requirements. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Become a Registered Nurse
Becoming a registered nurse (RN) is the first step a career as an operating room nurse. You can start by earning a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing. RN programs typically include coursework in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical surgical nursing, health assessment and nursing practice. In addition to coursework, RN programs also include a clinical practicum in which you could work with real patients at a hospital or clinic. After you complete your education, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Get a Diploma or Certificate in Perioperative Nursing
Diplomas and certificates in perioperative nursing are available at community colleges and 4-year schools. Many schools require you to be an RN with operating room experience to gain admission; others may require you to have a master's degree in nursing. Perioperative diploma and certificate programs are generally one to two semesters in length and include courses in physical assessment, operating room tools and equipment safety. Most programs include a clinical practicum/internship.
You could also get an advanced certificate in surgical nursing as a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA). You must be an RN and have experience in preoperative nursing for entry into most RNFA programs; some but schools could require you to have an advanced degree in nursing. RNFA programs take about a year to complete and consist mainly of hands-on operating room training in making surgical incisions, controlling bleeding and suturing wounds.
While certification is not required for a career in perioperative nursing, it's a common requirement among employers. The Competency and Credentialing Institute offers two credentials for perioperative nurses, including the Certified Nurse in the Operating Room (CNOR) and Certified Registered First Nurse Assistant (CRNFA) designations. CNOR certification requires an RN license and 2,400 hours of operating room experience; CRNFA certification requires a bachelor's degree, 2,000 hours of RNFA experience and CNOR or Nurse Practitioner certification.
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