How do I Become an Operating Room Nurse?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 April 2020
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Someone who wants to become an operating room nurse will need to attend nursing school and become certified as a registered nurse (RN). Operating room nurses, also known as perioperative nurses, can fill a number of different roles in the operating room. Some of these roles require additional training, which is something which should be considered when starting a nursing education.

To become an operating room nurse it is necessary to attend a nursing program which graduates registered nurses. The program usually provides students with an undergraduate degree in nursing, known as a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). During the program, students will learn about anatomy and physiology, the principles of nursing practice, and other topics which will be useful in a nursing career. Students also have opportunities for clinical practice, including the chance to observe in an operating room to see if operating room nursing is something they are interested in. At the conclusion of the program, students are eligible to take the certification exam used to determine fitness to practice as an RN.

Some operating room nurses start working in the operating room immediately after graduation, and apply for certification in the perioperative nursing specialty by a professional organization after two years of practice. Others prefer to take internships in perioperative nursing which offer training and clinical opportunities to their students. Graduates of such programs have a number of key skills which they can use to seek employment so that they can accrue hours which can be used to apply for certification.

Once someone has become an operating room nurse there are some different positions in the operating room which can be considered. One option is the circulating nurse. A circulating nurse moves through the operating room during the surgery to keep an eye on everything going on during the surgery, monitoring the patient and staff for safety. A scrub nurse “scrubs in” for the surgery to provide assistance directly to the surgeon. Scrub nurses need extra training which can provided on the job or through an internship or technician training program after the nurse has become an operating room nurse.

Some things to think about when one has become an operating room nurse also include where to pursue employment. Some people like to work as traveling nurses, working for short stints at hospitals in various areas. Others prefer to settle down with one hospital. One advantage to coordinating surgical care at one hospital is that it can eventually allow a nurse to rise to a more senior position on the nursing staff.


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