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OR Nurse – Operating Room Travel Nursing

Care for Patients When They are Most Vulnerable.

An operating room nurse, also known as an OR nurse or perioperative nurse, is a medical provider who is on the frontline of care. The OR nurse is in the operating room assisting the surgical team while patients are most defenseless. The OR nurse provides care for patients before, during, and after surgery.

Roles of an OR Nurse

In this specialty, clinical settings can often be intense and can demand extreme focus for long periods of time. Perioperative nurses are relied upon for their professional judgment and critical thinking skills. They may work closely with the surgical patient, family members, and other health care professionals. OR nurses help plan, implement, and evaluate treatment of the patient.

During surgery, the operating room nurse may assume any of the following responsibilities:

  • Scrub nurse – Works directly with the surgeon within the sterile field by passing instruments, sponges, and other items needed during the surgical procedure.
  • Circulating nurse – Works outside the sterile field. Responsible for managing the nursing care within the OR by observing the surgical team from a broad perspective and assisting the team in creating and maintaining a safe, comfortable environment.
  • RN first assistant – After completing extensive additional education and training to deliver direct surgical care, the RN first assistant may directly assist the surgeon by controlling bleeding and by providing wound exposure and suturing during the actual procedure.
  • OR director – An OR nurse may also work as an OR director, managing budgets, staffing personnel and supporting other business aspects of the operating room.

How Can I Become an OR Nurse?

Generally, registered nurses obtain general nursing experience before entering the specialty area of operating room nursing. Two areas that can provide applicable experience are critical care and emergency room care. These are fast-paced, sometimes stressful environments in which nurses must routinely make life-saving decisions that directly affect patients’ lives.

Perioperative nurses must be able to interact well with all kinds of people in difficult situations. They need emotional stability to cope with human suffering and frequent emergencies. They must be able to accept responsibility, provide direction to others, coordinate patient healthcare plans, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

The educational requirements for an OR nurse are similar to other nursing specialties: RN license with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or hospital diploma.

How Much Does an OR Nurse Make?

Median annual earnings of registered nurses were $70,000 in 2017, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $48,690 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $104,100. Specialty nurses — such as perioperative nurses and nurse anesthetists, who work in hospitals and outpatient surgery facilities, can earn more than the average for registered nurses. Hourly pay for OR nurses who take travel assignments is based on the annual salary range, but also varies with geographical location, scope of responsibility and availability of applicants.

The best news is – the field is growing – with an expected 15 percent increase in demand over the next decade for nurses compared to a 7 percent increase for overall professions. Join this exciting career and take your next travel assignment as an OR nurse.


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