Registered nurses who work in operating rooms assist surgeons during procedures, according to Their work includes caring for patients before, during and after surgery. Nurses in operating room training programs gain both the classroom learning and hands-on experience they need to land a position in a surgical environment.


Registered nurses who work in operating rooms are responsible for a majority of the communication and education of surgical patients and their families. Their main duty is to make sure patients receive quality care during and following their operations. They also must sterilize surgical rooms, have the skills to suture incisions under a surgeon’s supervision and know how to control bleeding. Operating room nursing training programs teach students how to perform these duties.


RNs who want to work in an operating room capacity can complete perioperative certificate and degree programs. Operating room nursing programs usually last a year and require students to already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and be CPR-certified. Some of these continuing education programs also require that nurses have had some critical care unit or emergency room experience. The Mayo Clinic in Florida is an example of a school that offers a perioperative nursing program that follows the course curriculum from the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses.


Operating room nursing training programs give students the tools they need to pursue certification in this field. Professionals are eligible to take the voluntary certification examination after completing two years and 2,400 hours of nursing experience in an operating room. Certification lasts for five years, and professionals can be re-certified through an exam, contact hours or a professional portfolio. Many employers look for certified job candidates, so obtaining this voluntary certification makes an operating room nurse much more employable.


In operating room nursing training programs, courses cover topics such as disinfection and sterilization, operating room safety and procedures and surgical tools. Students also learn about skin preparation, anesthesia assessment, scrubbing and circulating, positioning and draping the surgical patient, laser safety, patient communication and even tourniquets and implants. Students gain exposure to general and specialty procedures through clinical experiences. The Mayo Clinic gives students hands-on experience with cardiac surgery, colon/rectal surgery, organ transplants, orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery. In addition, programs cover stress management and ethics of patient care, according to Southwestern College in California.


Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rapid growth is expected particularly in hospital outpatient facilities that provide same-day surgeries. The median expected salary for operating room nurses in late 2009 was $65,183, according to

2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses

Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.

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