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Orthopaedic Nurse

Orthopaedic nurses help patients with muscular and skeletal conditions or disabilities, such as arthritis, bone fractures, joint replacements and systemic disorders. They are mostly concerned with the correction and treatment of muscle, skeletal or ligament injuries. Orthopaedic nurses strive to advance musculoskeletal health care by researching and informing the public about these common conditions. They often work in intensive care units, outpatient rehab centers and home health care settings to ensure the most hands-on assistance and support. Orthopaedic nurses may work for various health organizations and hold different positions, including staff nurses, clinical nurse specialists, nursing instructors and case managers, according to the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.

Orthopaedic nurses need to be licensed registered nurses (RNs), who obtain either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, or complete a nursing diploma program. In addition, they must take the national licensing exam, NCLEX-RN, to become licensed in registered nursing. Once these steps have been met, RNs can begin general nursing work or enter orthopaedics to gain valuable experience. After two years of nursing experience, RNs will be eligible to earn their Orthopaedic Nurse Certification (ONC).

Orthopaedic nurses’ salaries vary from state to state and may depend on experience and education level. According to PayScale, registered orthopaedic nurses made a median salary of $63,871 in 2009. Orthopaedic nurses will continue to be in high demand as the population grows and the life expectancy increases, causing more orthopaedic services to be needed. Job opportunities will be best for orthopaedic nurses who are trained in the latest technologies, have strong patient care skills and can communicate treatment plans effectively.