How Do You Become a Surgical Nurse?

Surgical NurseIf you are interested in using your clinical skills to work alongside surgeons in caring for patients before, during, and after surgery, then you may be the perfect fit to become a surgical nurse. Also referred to as perioperative nurses, surgical nurses are registered nurses who serve as liaisons between the surgical team and the patients’ families to ensure that patients are receiving the best possible care for quick recovery. According to Modern Medicine, over 25% of surgical nurses will be reaching retirement age in the next few years, it is an excellent time for nurses to specialize their abilities in meeting growing hospital staffing needs in the operating room. Below is a complete step-by-step guide on how you can become a surgical nurse for a very rewarding career in easing patients’ fears throughout surgical procedures.

Complete an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Similar to other nursing specialties, the first step towards practice in surgical nursing is to complete a two-year associate’s or four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing. Within an undergraduate program accredited by the CCNE or ACEN for excellence, you will build the essential foundation for nursing practice by learning the skills needed to handle patients, deliver medical treatments, prevent further illness, and interact with other members of the healthcare team. You will likely be required to take coursework in human anatomy, physiology, chemistry, nutrition, microbiology, statistics, psychology, and public health as well as complete clinical rotations as practicum. Upon completion of the program, you will need to pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCLEX-RN) exam to receive licensure.

Obtain Work Experience in Surgery as an RN

Once you have earned a valid RN license in your state of practice, you will need to obtain a considerable amount of work experience in surgery. Although specific education requirements to become a surgical nurse have not been established, it is typically required that nurses in medical-surgical nursing have at least two years of full-time experience in surgery. Most states will also require nurses to complete a minimum of 2,000 hours working in an acute care setting to fully understand the challenges and stress that is often involved in working as a surgical nurse. It is recommended that you build as much experience as possible in inpatient care units, community clinics, surgical centers, ambulatory care units, and hospitals before the next step.

Apply for Certification in Medical-Surgical Nursing

Now that you have acquired significant clinical experience, you will need to apply for certification in medical-surgical nursing to take on this specialized role. Within the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certified Board (MSNCB) offers the opportunity to become a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) with the completion of a multiple-choice certification exam. Since this certification validates that you have a commitment to surgical nursing practice, it is highly recommended that you become a CMSRN to achieve higher-level positions, increase job satisfaction, obtain greater earning potential, and acquire enhanced employer respect.

Related Resource: Cardiac Nurse

Overall, medical-surgical nursing is currently considered the largest specialty that accounts for nearly one-sixth of the nursing profession providing direct patient care to adults. When you follow these steps to become a surgical nurse, you will be unlocking rewarding career opportunities for providing high-quality care throughout surgical procedures to help patients get on the road to recovery quickly and safely.