How Do You Become a Perioperative Nurse?

Anyone who wants to become a perioperative nurse will need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a current RN license and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) credential. Perioperative nurses are key members of surgical teams who conduct patient assessments, coordinate with the physician and assist in the operating room. Many perioperative nurses earn a graduate level perioperative certificate or degree through a nursing school or on-the-job training programs in hospitals.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The golden academic standard for nurses is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). These degrees should be approved by organizations like the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These programs offer knowledge in the areas of social, medical, physical and biological science. These degree programs transform students into nursing leaders, researchers and practitioners. These programs use evidence-based frameworks to teach critical thinking, decision making and professional nursing skills.

Students learn about the various roles and practices of nurses, so they understand their accountability expectations, professional values, collaboration responsibilities and clinical judgment skills. These degree programs often focus on the values, attitudes and behaviors necessary for theory-based nursing standards. Students are trained to manage resources, assess quality concerns and manage care risks through proven decision-making models.

Complete a Graduate-level Program

Advanced nurse practitioners must have graduate level training in order to qualify for their specialized credential. A graduate certificate or degree in perioperative nursing is the recommended education. These programs provide RNs with a comprehensive understanding of an operating room nurse’s duties and practices. Students learn theoretical skills and principles of perioperative nursing that are based on the recommended standards and practices of organizations like the Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN).

After graduation, students will know the different duties of perioperative staff and be able to identify the critical components of the perioperative experience. Students will be prepared to execute aseptic, medical and surgical assisting techniques in perioperative environments. They will understand the detailed processes of equipment disinfection and instrumentation sterilization. Students will learn about anesthesia, surgical procedures, clinical standards and Operating Room environments.

Choose a Specialization

There are actually four types of perioperative nurses. First, scrub nurses are responsible for sterilizing, selecting and handling surgical supplies and instruments during the procedure. They set up sterile areas in preparation for surgery, assist the surgical team with putting on gowns and gloves and hand instruments to the surgeon. Second, a circulating perioperative nurse develops patient care plans, review preoperative assessments and manage operating room activities.

These perioperative nurses are not sterile, but they provide operational and administrative support to surgeons and staff. Third, the RN first assistant (RNFA) helps the surgeon with surgical activities like suturing, exposing wounds and keeping bleeding under control. Because RNFAs work under the direction of the surgeon, they must obtain additional education beyond basic perioperative training. Fourth, a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) RN will provide care for patients after their surgical procedures and anesthesia.

Related Resource: What is a Case Management Nurse?

Anyone who wants to become a perioperative nurse should be aware that they are subject to strict grooming requirements through the AORN’s standard of practice. This means that female perioperative nurses are not allowed to paint or grow their nails behind the tips of the fingers.