How Do You Become an Operating Room Nurse?

Those who become an operating room nurse are RNs who primarily work in hospitals and surgery departments. They are usually in charge of maintaining sterile instruments and assisting during surgical procedures.

Earn a Degree

Nursing students generally have three academic pathways to become an RN. Most students either earn an Associate of Science in Nursing degree in two years or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in four years. The third option, a hospital endorsed diploma program, usually takes two to three years to complete. All of these programs are designed to empower students to retain knowledge and apply essential skills. The focus is usually on conceptual learning, so students focus on transforming theories into practices. Non-clinical medical courses cover nutrition, pharmacology, pathophysiology, health assessments and information systems. Clinical centered nursing courses cover the fundamentals of nursing, patient care and evidence-based practices. There are also classes on adult, pediatric, maternal and mental-health nursing.

Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

During your last semester of nursing school, most students attend an informative NCLEX workshop that explains how to register and prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam. There are three basic eligibility steps for taking the NCLEX-RN exam. First, students must register with the state’s board of nursing.

Second, they must register for the NCLEX-RN exam through the private educational organization that hosts the test, Pearson VUE. Third, they must submit proof of completing the required nursing curriculum. The NCLEX-RN exam was created to test the basic skills and knowledge required to ensure safe and effective nursing practices. The NCLEX-RN exam is maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). It offered in a computerized format that adapts to every examinee. This means that the computer adjusts the exam according to the examinee’s performance.

Find Employment

Almost all health care employers will expect operating room nurses to have previous surgical experience. Pre-operative RNs are direct care providers who assist surgeons with operative procedures. They conduct comprehensive assessment regarding pain levels, physical functioning and patient education needs. Operating room nurses participate in surgical planning and ensure that surgical supplies and equipment are in good working order. They are expected to use and apply standard nursing, judgment, leadership, technical and critical thinking skills. They collaborate with patient care providers to achieve ideal patient outcomes, which includes surgeons, anesthesiologists and post-operative staff. They act as advocates for patients and families while also modeling professionalism within care units. Operating room nurses are expected to follow the Association of Perioperative Nursing (AORN) standards.

Advance Your Career

After years of practice, operating room nurses may want to advance their career. Most become Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs), such as nurse anesthetists or midwives, after obtaining a master’s degree. There are many more APN specializations, such as leadership, gerontology and pediatric and psychiatric nursing. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs include classes on microbiology, human physiology and organic chemistry. There are also classes on professional nursing management, the principles of client-centered care and community-based health programs. After many years of practice, some operating room nurses move on to become operating room (OR) directors, health care administrators and medical educators.

Related Resource: Become A Gerontology Nurse

In order to become an operating room nurse, students will need to have the right education, licensure and job experience.