Surgical nurses carry various responsibilities. They help surgeons during operations and they look after patients before, during and after these procedures. To be a surgical nurse, you must be a licensed registered nurse (RN) first, for which different educational pathways exist. A number of programs exist that focus specifically on surgical nursing, but there is also a specialty certification.
The Different Education Pathways
• Diploma: Diplomas usually take between 2 and 3 years to complete and are conducted in hospital settings.
• Associate’s Degree: This is one of the most popular options, as it only takes two years to complete.
• Bachelor’s Degree (BSN): This is the degree of choice for those who want to have a thorough education in the field. It takes 4 years to complete, two of which are completed performing supervised clinical duties in a healthcare facility (usually a hospital).
Upon getting their BSN degree, graduates can choose to specialize in surgical nursing. This can be achieved by one of two pathways:
• Peri-operative nurse training, which is a two year program.
• A master’s degree (MSN) or doctoral degree thereafter, with a surgical nursing specialization.
Once graduated, those who wish to start work as a surgical nurse must pass the NCLEX-RN examination to become registered nurses.
Generally speaking, it is not possible to complete surgical nursing degrees online. There are some exceptions, however. Some schools are now offering the theoretical part of the degree online and others offer bachelor’s to master’s degree programs online.
In order to become a surgical nurse, students must pass the NCLEX-RN examination before they can choose a specialization. In most cases, students will be expected to have completed at least two years of practical experience as a registered nurse. The process of becoming certified can be optional, but some employers have made it mandatory. Registered Nurses can choose a number of surgery specialization certificates, including plastic surgery, adult cardiac surgery and intensive care. If these certifications are required, they can be obtained through institutions such as the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses or the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses.
Prerequisites for Study
Different schools and colleges have different prerequisite requirements for someone who wants to become a registered nurse in the first place and specialize as a surgical nurse later on. Usually, minimal requirements include a high school diploma, GED or equivalent with a certain GPA. Additionally, students usually have to pass a health check, drug screening and criminal background check.
Any education obtained to become a surgical nurse must be gained through an accredited program in order for it to count towards professional continuous education. The main accrediting bodies are the American Association on Colleges of Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for the Education of Nursing. It is also recommended to check accreditation through the State Board of Nursing and the U.S. Department of Education.
The Cost of Becoming a Surgical Nurse
It is hard to determine the exact cost of becoming a surgical nurse. This is due to the fact that there is great variation between the various schools that offer these programs. Additionally, the chosen pathway will also have a significant impact on the cost. Most schools offer tuition assistance, grants and financial aid.
Scholarships for Surgical Nurses
There are various scholarships available across the country for people who meet different criteria. Specifically for surgical nurses, the Association of Perioperative Nurses is generally the most popular. They offer various grants of up to $5,000.
Working as a Surgical Nurse
Surgical nurses are incredibly empathic people, particularly because they have to deal with pain management. Pain is common after surgery, and nurses must be able to monitor this properly. Additionally, they must be able to provide appropriate pain relief.
There are excellent opportunities for growth within the surgical nursing sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has not researched surgical nursing as a standalone role. However, all registered nurses can expect a job growth rate of 19% by the year 2022.
The salary expectations for surgical nurses vary depending on level of education and place of employment. However, the median ranges from $68,610 to $89,087, with further growth expected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.