Types of surgical nurses

Surgical nurses, also known as perioperative nurses, help surgeons in hospitals, trauma centers and private doctors’ offices. They are trained to comfort patients before, during and after surgery. They specialize in a variety of medical fields, such as cardiology, oncology and neurology. They must be registered nurses, or collegiate, and be trained to provide surgical care.

Education and certification

Surgical nurses, like all nurses, must graduate from a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year degree program in nursing and pass a national licensing exam. At school, they can enroll in surgery courses and participate in surgical clinics. Although not mandatory, they may wish to obtain certification in medical-surgical care. The Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Council and the American Nurses Accreditation Center both offer specialty medical-surgical credentials, which prove that a nurse has reached particular standards.

Surgical specialties

They help surgeons perform a variety of medical procedures. Surgical nurses at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, for example, may specialize in trauma, cardiac, vascular, gastrointestinal urology and gynecology. They often play a fundamental role in organ transplants and work with plastic surgeons, dermatologists, pediatricians, medical specialists and many others. Surgical oncology nurses can work with specific forms of cancer, such as lymphoma or leukemia.

Duties of surgical nurses

Surgical nurses insert intravenous lines, check vital signs and help anesthetists administer medications before surgery. In the operating room, they disinfect the equipment, clean the wounds and pass the tools to the surgeons when necessary. They must be effective communicators and teachers, as they often have to inform family members about the patient’s condition and teach them to take care of their loved ones after surgery. They must possess a wide range of knowledge and keep calm under pressure.

Salary and employment

In 2012, Scrubs magazine, an online resource for medical professionals, placed surgical nurses as the fourth highest paid medical specialty. Surgical nurses earned between $ 61,000 and $ 108,000 a year in 2012, according to Scrubs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all nurses received an average salary of US $ 69,110 a year in 2011. BLS estimates that employment for all registered nurses will grow by 26 percent from 2010 to 2020.