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How to Become a Surgical Nurse

Become a Surgical Nurse

A surgical nurse, also introduced as a perioperative nurse or OR nurse, is a Registered Nurse educated to help during operations.

Exceptionally, patients are cared for before, during, and after surgery, ranging from life-saving to elective.

They work in hospitals, surgical centers, and clinics and must have completed an authorized nursing school and acquired their registered nurse license. Surgical nursing is a vibrant and challenging discipline with numerous chances for professional development and learning.

We’ll go over what a surgical nurse does, how much they earn, how to become a surgical nurse, and more in this guide!

What Is a Surgical Nurse?

Perioperative nurses and Operating Room (OR) nurses are terms used to describe surgical nurses. They are in charge of patient care before, during, and after surgical operations.

Surgical nurses support operating room personnel during procedures and care for patients recuperating from them. Their primary duties include providing patient care, assisting the operating room team, and documenting observations and procedures.

What Does a Surgical Nurse Do?

During surgery and in pre-and post-operative healthcare settings, a surgical nurse aids with patient care. A surgical nurse may be assigned daily to preoperative, post-operative, and critical care units.

They serve as a link between the operating room and the patient. By offering knowledge and support, a surgical nurse may assist in easing some of a patient’s worry.

Surgical nurses may also help the surgeon throughout the procedure.

They sanitize surgical tools and assist with the setup of surgical equipment. They inform doctors and other health workers on patient progress in the recovery room after surgery. Also, they ensure that the patient’s requirements are satisfied, such as collecting vital signs and monitoring anesthetic levels.

In addition to their professional responsibilities, surgical nurses educate patients and their families about anticipated outcomes and recovery before surgery.

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Steps to Become a Medical Surgical Nurse

Each person’s steps to becoming a medical-surgical nurse are unique. For detailed details, check with your state’s standards.

The following factors are some of the most typical stages to becoming a medical-surgical nurse:

Complete a Registered Nurse Education Program

If you want to work as a medical-surgical nurse, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing and be licensed as a nurse in the state or territory where you want to work.

A profession in nursing may be pursued with an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Take the NCLEX-RN test and pass it

The NCLEX-RN exam is aimed to safeguard the public’s health and welfare by assessing nurses’ understanding of the skills necessary to provide safe and competent nursing care.

Obtain your RN license

Contact the state nursing licensing board where you intend to practice to determine what standards you’ll need to satisfy.

On the other hand, the Nursing Licensure Compact allows nurses to practice in 34 states with only one license.

Working as a Medical-Surgical Nurse is a Rewarding Career

Working as a medical-surgical nurse in a hospital or other clinical environment might be an entry-level profession.

In most cases, new graduate nurses will be sent to an internship with a preceptor to get on-the-job training from an experienced nurse.

Become a registered nurse who specializes in medical-surgical care. A CMSRN credential requires two years and 2,000 hours of clinical practice. Those who finish the certification may get a wage raise.

Continuous contact hours are also needed and verification of unencumbered licensing.

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Pathways to Becoming a Medical Surgical Nurse

Depending on your past education and work experience, there are many routes to becoming a nurse. You have the freedom to pick the best path for your future, including online nursing programs.

Nursing Associate’s Degree (ADN)

An Associate Degree in Nursing is a bachelor’s degree that teaches nursing students the fundamental information and abilities they’ll need to become registered nurses. Programs may take up to two years, although some can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Obtaining an ADN allows you to start the profession quickly and prepares you for a BSN or MSN if desired. To get started, you’ll need some beginning scientific classes in your background, such as high school chemistry and biology.

Nursing Bachelor’s Degree (BSN)

Coursework and clinical experience are required for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Coursework may include regular bachelor’s degree courses and nursing-related topics depending on the program.

As a full-time student, anticipate a BSN program to take four years if you’re beginning from scratch. You may also enroll in a two-year RN to BSN program if you already have an associate degree in nursing.

From RN to BSN

The RN to BSN bridge curriculum may be completed for people holding an ADN in one to two years.

Nurses get a better awareness of patient care and healthcare concerns due to the increased coursework and practical practice.

You may also pursue a specialty in nursing, such as pediatrics or cancer. RNs with a BSN may make more money than those with an ADN.

Nursing Master’s Degree with Direct Admission (MSN)

The direct-entry MSN program or expedited MSN nursing program is an option if you currently have a non-nursing degree and want to pursue a nursing profession.

The program will equip you to work as an RN with a master’s degree or seek advanced practice nurse certification after graduation (APRN).

Examine the program criteria since some are tailored to students with a BSN and others to individuals with no prior nursing experience. If you don’t have a background in nursing or science, you may need to take some prerequisite courses to be ready.

Nursing Master’s Degree (MSN)

A master’s degree in nursing (MSN) prepares students for advanced nursing careers such as nurse educators, administrators, and health policy specialists.

Students who complete the MSN program will be prepared to work as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in a specialty field such as nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or certified nurse-midwife.

If you already have a BSN, you may be able to finish the MSN program in two years or fewer. Online MSN programs provide the flexibility to earn your degree while keeping your schedule in mind for working students.

Surgical Nurse Salary

From 2019 to 2029, the need for registered nurses is predicted to rise by 7%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for registered nurses was $75,330 in 2020, with salaries ranging from $53,410 to $116,230.

Your pay may vary based on where you work and what medical institution you work in. Medical-surgical nurses often work shifts to offer round-the-clock care in a hospital or nursing facility.

They may be paid more if they work evenings, weekends, or holidays.

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What Are The Ways To Increase Your Surgical Nurse Salary

While we are aware that nursing wages vary widely depending on the state in which a nurse works and the specialization in which they practice, these figures are by no means a barrier.

Surgical nurses, in particular, are in a unique situation in that they have a plethora of opportunities to advance their careers and, as a consequence, enhance their pay.

Advance your Education

BSN, MSN, or certification in the profession might increase pay. Sign-on incentives may be given based on nurse demand. Nurses may earn overtime compensation in numerous contexts, including hospitals.

As well, surgical nurses make more than other advanced practice nurses. To become a nurse anesthetist, surgical nurses must have a master’s degree.

In May 2020, the BLS reported that the median annual pay for nurse anesthetists was $183,580. Graduate schools for surgical nurses are few, according to (except for some perioperative clinical nurse specialist roles in the military).

An advanced degree in a nurse practitioner school is required, followed by certification in a perioperative specialization.

Consider Total Compensation

Consider the full picture when calculating overall compensation. Consider the company’s support for continuing education, health insurance, and paid time off.

Travel nursing may increase pay and lifestyle flexibility for ambitious nurses.

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Get Started

Many businesses will pay you more if you are certified in your nursing specialty. Surgical nursing credentials include CNOR, CRNFA, and Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN).


The term “medical-surgical nurse” refers to a registered nurse (RN) who offers care to patients undergoing or recuperating surgical procedures.

These registered nurses may be found in various locations, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, residences, and other venues that provide pre-and post-operative care. A surgical nurse is a registered nurse trained to help with normal and complicated surgical operations.

These nurses support surgeons with elective and life-saving treatments in hospitals, surgery centers, recovery rooms, medical-surgical care units, and clinics.

Hi, I'm Michael, a research writer with expertise in general, education, business, finance and real estate. My goal is to share the newest updates and trends from these industries with you.

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