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Plastic Surgery Nurse: Career Profile, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for plastic surgery nurses. Get the facts about job duties, education and licensure requirements and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Do Plastic Surgery Nurses Do?

Whether in a hospital setting with a reconstruction surgeon repairing someone's injured face or in a clinic with a plastic surgeon reshaping someone's nose, plastic surgery nurses are vital to the surgeon and patient. Plastic surgery nurses are often found in the operating room, where they help surgeons repair or improve various bodily defects. These nurses may also be expected to record medical history, set up plans for patients and administer medication. The following chart gives you an overview about becoming a plastic surgery nurse.

Degree Required Diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Nursing
Key Responsibilities Monitor patients and report changes in status; assist physician with examinations and procedures in operating room; take patient vital signs and maintain patient records
Licensure and/or Certification All states require RNs to be licensed; board certification as a plastic surgical nurse is available
Job Growth (2018-2028) 12% (for all registered nurses)*
Median Salary (2018) $71,730 (for all registered nurses)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Plastic Surgery Nursing Defined

Plastic surgery nurses, also known as reconstructive surgery nurses, are registered nurses who provide comfort and medical care to patients undergoing cosmetic or reconstructive surgery. Plastic surgery nurses assist plastic surgeons in the operating room by selecting appropriate surgical instruments, controlling patient bleeding and suturing wounds. You could work in a hospital, clinic, medical offices or sterile operating room with a team of medical professionals. Plastic surgery nurses may work irregular hours that vary depending on the size of the hospital staff and nursing facilities. Plastic surgery nurses must stand, bend, walk and lift for long periods of time during surgical procedures.

What Is My Employment Outlook?

Approximately 3 million people worked as registered nurses in the United States in 2018. The nursing field is one of the fastest growing healthcare occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 12% increase in RN positions was expected during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). Most jobs are available within the hospital setting. The middle 50% of registered nurses earned between $58,770 and $88,350, according to May 2018 BLS data.

What Education Do I Need?

If you would like to become a plastic surgery nurse, you must become a registered nurse. Your options include pursuit of a nursing diploma, an Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Pursuit of a bachelor's degree generally provides better job opportunities. Each nursing program involves clinical training and classroom instruction. Plastic surgery nurses must also pass the National Council Licensing Exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain a license in order to practice. You may obtain the Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse credential by passing an exam after two or more years of experience as a plastic surgery nurse, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses (www.aspsn.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative careers to nursing may include becoming EMTs and paramedics, LPNs and vocational nurses that only require some kind of certificate or licensing training after completing high school or its equivalent. With an associate's degree people can work as a dental hygienist, medical sonographer, cardiovascular technician, or vascular technologist. Other related careers, such as a physician assistant, nurse anesthetist, midwife, nurse practitioner or even a social worker will require a master's degree.