Surgical nurses provide care to patients before and during surgery. Surgical nurses are a critical part of the surgical team because they assist surgeons and anesthesiologists by clearing the patient for surgery and making sure the surgical team has all of the patient’s relevant information. Surgical nurses may work in pre or post-operative care units, operating rooms and surgical centers. In pre-operative care, surgical nurses may be responsible for explaining the procedure to the patient, as well as ease their fears and answer their questions. During surgery, surgical nurses help surgeons by passing instruments, overseeing the patient’s condition and sterilizing work areas for surgeons. In post-operative care, surgical nurses watch over patients and look for signs of complications.
Those who want to enter the field of surgical nursing must meet the minimum educational requirements and have an adequate amount of field training. In order to become a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN), you must meet all eligibility requirements before sitting for the exam. Potential surgical nurses must be currently licensed as a registered nurse (RN), have at least two years of experience as an RN in an adult medical-surgical setting, as well as have a minimum total of 2,000 hours within the past three years of surgical practice. Once these steps are met, nurses are eligible to take the certification exam offered by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN).
Surgical nurses are expected to have good employment and salary opportunities as long as patients continue to need surgeries and surgeons still need nurses’ assistance. According to Salary.com, certified surgical nurses made a median salary of $74,197 in 2009. Like other nursing specialties, surgical nurses’ salaries can vary depending on employer, sub-specialty, location and level of experience. Those who are specialized in emergency procedures, well versed in surgical instruments and technology, demonstrate good patient care and have extensive operating room experience, will have the best surgical nursing opportunities.