Career and Job Duties
This may be because surgical nursing is a demanding, exacting job that is hard on the body and the mind. These nurses assist surgeons to perform delicate surgical procedures, setting up sterile trays of instruments, passing those instruments to the surgeon as necessary, and caring for patients before and after their surgeries.
In order to become a surgical nurse, you must first complete at least a 2-year associate’s degree in nursing at an accredited Nursing college with a specialty in surgical nursing. Many people prefer to enroll in a nursing diploma program, which takes 2 or 3 years to complete. Others choose to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (a BSN) which is a four-year course, but allows you to graduate as an RN and qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain your RN license.
Surgical Nurse Speciality
There are several different types of surgical nurses, and you may choose to specialize in one area only, or become proficient at all of them. A scrub nurse’s job is to work in the sterile operating field with the surgeon, handing him instruments, monitoring the patient’s condition, and assisting the surgeon as instructed. This job requires nurses to “scrub” which means they use special disinfectants to scrub their hands and arms with, and they wear sterile surgical scrubs so that they do not contaminate the surgical field. The circulating nurse does not need to be completely sterile like the scrub nurse, since her job is to care for the patient prior to their surgery, and bring them into the operating room. They are also responsible for monitoring the condition of the patient. The last surgical nurse specialty is the RN first assistant, and these are the most highly educated and trained of the surgical nurses. They are tasked with assisting the surgeon perform the actual surgery by cauterizing blood vessels, facilitating the surgeon’s access to the operating field, suturing wounds, and generally assisting with the surgery.
Surgical nurses can take extra nursing classes and advance to become nurse anesthetists or operating room directors. There are a multitude of options open to a good surgical nurse.