How do I Become a Perioperative Nurse?

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  • Written By: Simone Lawson
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 05 April 2020
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Perioperative nurses work for surgical departments in hospitals to assist in the treatment of patients undergoing surgery. These registered nurses are often referred to as operating room (OR) nurses and perform a wide range of tasks, including providing doctors with surgical instruments, assisting with wound treatment and supervising other nurses in the OR. To become a perioperative nurse, it is generally important for students to graduate from an accredited nursing program, obtain supervised clinical experience in a hospital OR and obtain licensure as a registered nurse.

A bachelor's degree in nursing may be obtained by completing a three- or four-year university degree program. Students are typically required to take prerequisite courses in chemistry, psychology, anatomy and physiology before entering a nursing program. Once the prerequisite requirements to become a perioperative nurse have been satisfied, students move on to a medically-focused program.

Nursing school covers a wide variety of medical topics, including pediatrics, neonatal care, disease treatment and mental health. Students learn medical theory as well as practical application and proper performance of medical procedures. The last year of training typically consists of supervised training in a health-care facility.


Those who seek to become a perioperative nurse typically try to complete supervised training in an OR or trauma unit. This is not a requirement to become a perioperative nurse, but it will help provide essential skills and training for surgical nurses. Some perioperative nurses work in other medical areas for several years before switching to nursing in the OR.

Registered nurses who decide to switch their field to perioperative nursing after school generally are required to complete a specialized training program before working in an OR as a full-capacity nurse. Training programs to become a perioperative nurse may vary in terms of time length, but they are often provided as on-the-job training for licensed registered nurses. Some hospitals may require nurses to work under close supervision while undergoing perioperative training.

Almost all nurses must pass a national licensing examination. Licensing examinations are generally offered locally to students who complete nursing programs at accredited schools. There may be additional certification requirements depending on the area that one is seeking employment.

Some areas may require nurses to pass a perioperative certification exam. If specialized examination and licensure is required, additional training will need to be completed regardless of any specialized training received during nursing school. It is generally best to check with local health agencies to determine certification requirements for perioperative nurses.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

@fify-- You need to check out certification programs for perioperative nursing at hospitals and community colleges.

I understand your concern but I think if you can get into a program at a hospital or community college, it shouldn't be too hard on you financially. Some hospitals have course programs-internships or certification programs for perioperative nursing once a year.

The good part about these programs is that they could pay you during the course and/or offer you a job afterward. The course is for a fee, but some hospitals give it for free if you agree to work for the hospital 1-2 years after completing the program. Sometimes this can be a bit competitive. Hospitals generally want

the best perioperative nurses to stay on with them so not everyone might qualify for that.

The other option is applying for a certification program at a community college. Community colleges are pretty affordable. They can't guarantee you a job afterward, but they can help you make contacts for job applications.

Post 2

What are my chances of becoming a perioperative nurse as a new graduate? I will be a registered nurse in May and I really want to enter this field of nursing.

I've looked into jobs but it seems like a high level of experience is required. I understand I will probably need to take a course but I do need a paycheck during or at least immediately after the course as I've no income right now.

I don't know how I can start gaining experience as a perioperative nurse and still cover my expenses until I have a full-time job.

Also, once I become a perioperative nurse, is it possible to choose which surgical department I want

to work for? I really want to work as a NICU perioperative nurse. I interned for a short time at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I think working with newborns is amazing, I would really like to work in this unit if I can.
Post 1

My sister is a perioperative nurse. She did nursing school and after graduation, applied to various hospitals with internship programs for perioperative nurse training. She was accepted to one and I believe the course went on for about 5 months. She took additional courses at that time and did a hands-on internship at the hospital.

After she passed the course, she stayed on with the hospital to work full time. She did have to go through another 3 month orientation though. She's still working at that hospital. She enjoys her job a lot.

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