Surgical Nursing

Surgical Nursing


Are you a prospective nursing student or a registered nurse (RN) who wants to pursue surgical work? Assisting surgeons in the operating room (OR) environment is a fascinating and challenging career choice. As a surgical nurse, you work as a valued member of an integrated healthcare team.

Education Requirements for the Surgical Nurse

As with other nursing specialties, you will need to complete one of two “pre-specialty” nursing programs, either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Subsequently, you have to take and pass the National Certification Licensure for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) test.

The ADN and BSN nursing programs are taught at some of the best community college and university based nursing schools in America. Both of these nursing programs teach you nursing essentials, including medical terminology, pharmacology, and basic RN skills. You also need to have several hours of pertinent clinical experience before obtaining the credential as a surgical nurse.

After a time, you might consider advancing your specialty by obtaining your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. This will definitely improve job opportunities in the operative nursing field. Many MSN graduates work as supervisors of ORs and operative departments.

Surgical Nurse Certification

Many nursing schools do not stipulate specific educational requirements to become a surgical nurse. So, it is extremely important to acquire as much surgical nursing experience as possible. This clinical experience could easily be incorporated into your BSN or MSN nursing programs.

Once your surgical clinical experience is complete, you will be eligible for certification as a surgical nurse. The surgical nursing examination is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). When you pass this certification exam, you can use the title of “RN-BC” which stands for “Registered Nurse-Board Certified”. In addition to your RN license, to sit for this exam, you need thirty credit hours of medical/surgical nursing education and two thousand practical surgical nursing hours.

Surgical Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries

Surgical nurses are licensed registered nurses with experience working in OR settings. They care for surgical patients during the entire operative process, including pre-operative and post-operative periods. Generally, as a surgical nursing professional, you work with various medical specialists, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other nurses. With this specialty, a nurse can find employment at surgical centers, surgeon’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient plastic surgery centers.

Salaries for surgical nurses are extremely competitive in the United States. The average yearly income is $57,800 to $79,200, according to most web sources, and this is 10% higher than the national average. Pay does vary, however, based on years of experience, level of education, location of practice, and place of employment.

Job Duties of the Surgical Nurse

Your role as a surgical nurse often includes having to answer a patient’s last minute questions and reassuring them about their operation. In the operating room, you will help surgeons by handing them surgical instruments, manipulating equipment, and anticipating the doctor’s needs. Postoperatively, your duties include monitoring vital signs, giving pain medications and changing dressings.


If you become a surgical nurse, you will soon discover how valuable you are to the surgical team. Surgical nursing professionals are appreciated by the patients and the physicians. Patients are grateful that you manage their pain and watch out for their physical and mental health, and physicians are appreciative of your expertise and skills.


ANA (2013):

ANCC (2013):

BLS (2010):

NCBDE (2013):

Nurse.Org (2013):

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