Plastic surgery nurses are also known as aesthetic nurses and reconstructive surgery nurses. To be a nurse with this specialization, you must first become a registered nurse (RN), and then you must obtain certifications in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Once licensed and employed, you will be involved in peri-operative and post-operative care, helping surgeons during procedures and assisting patients before, during and after. As a plastic surgery nurse, you could work along the full spectrum of plastic surgery, from elective cosmetic enhancements to reconstructive surgery. As a result, job opportunities exist across a wide range of different healthcare facilities.
About the Plastic Surgery Nurse Profession
To become a plastic surgery nurse, you must first earn a BSN (bachelor’s degree). You can opt to go straight into that particular education pathway, or start with a licensing program to become an LVN or LPN first. Once you have completed your BSN, you can take the NCLEX-RN examination and become a registered nurse after you have passed. Then, you must achieve two years of practical experience in plastic surgery nursing before you can take the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nursing examination. This is not always a requirement, but will certainly lead to greater job opportunities.
In order to become a plastic surgery nurse, you will be expected to have fantastic interpersonal skills and be very sensitive to the needs of patients. Additionally, excellent communication skills both with patients and surgeons are required. The field is multidisciplinary and very dynamic, which means you will also be expected to have knowledge of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Finally, you must be a quick thinker and learner.
What Jobs Does This Lead to?
Once licensed, you can get to work in a variety of different settings, performing a variety of different roles. The goal is always to improve the way a person looks. This can be purely cosmetic, such as lip fillers, but it can also be to reduce scarring, for instance, due to burns from a fire. Essentially, the procedures can be elective (cosmetic and maxillofacial), but also necessary reconstructive surgery, microsurgery or laser surgery. Additionally, a lot of the work is around monitoring recovery, administering medication, changing bandages and more.
The American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has stated that the five most common surgical procedures for a plastic surgery nurse to be involved in are breast augmentation, liposuction, abdominoplasty, blepharoplasty and rhinoplasty. The five most common minimally invasive ones are Botox, dermal fillers, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, and chemical peels. For reconstructive surgery, procedures include laceration repair, tumor removal, scar revision, maxillofacial surgery and hand surgery.
As a surgical nurse, you work side by side with surgical teams, including plastic surgeons. This can happen in hospitals, private practices and outpatient centers. This also includes medical spas.
The duties of a plastic surgery nurse, regardless of the area they work in, can be summarized as:
• Keeping up to date with new procedures and protocols.
• Consulting with and screening patients.
• Assessing the general health of a patient, including their psychosocial status.
• Scheduling patients.
• Before and after surgery instructions.
• Administration of chemical peels.
• Treating with pulse-lights like laser.
• Intravenous and venipuncture therapy administration.
• Assisting during liposuction procedures.
• Preparing and sterilizing the surgery room.
• Peri-operative management.
• Managing inventory.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average salary for a registered nurse is $65,470. However, this varies greatly depending on the level of experience and education and place of work. Plastic surgery nurses employed in private practices tend to earn the most.
Job Outlook for a Plastic Surgery Nurse
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth of 19% in the nursing profession between now and 2022. Additionally, there is a known increase in demand for cosmetic procedures. This would indicate that the demand for plastic surgery nurses is growing at a rapid rate.