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.