How Do You Become a Surgical Nurse?

Surgical NurseSurgical nurses go to college and complete all the steps necessary for working in the nursing field, but you shouldn’t expect to become a surgical nurse the first year that you finish college. Nurses working in this specialized field typically have years of experience that prepares them for working with patients during life saving and complex operations. Many of the nurses working in this field have five years of experience or more before they apply.

Become a Registered Nurse

Before you can become a surgical nurse, you must go to college and become a registered nurse. Though some surgical nurses have a bachelor’s degree, others have a Master of Science in Nursing degree. If you decide to go this route, you must first obtain your undergraduate degree and then go to graduate school. You will generally need to do some type of internship in graduate school, which can take a year or longer to complete. Some nurses go to work in the field and finish their graduate degrees either online or through a part time program as they work.

Pass the Associated Tests

The most important test you need to take before working as a nurse is the NCLEX. This is a national test that looks at how well you understand medical terminology and issues relating to the medical field. You can only work as a nurse after passing this exam, and the Department of Nursing in your state will inform employers whether you passed the test and received your license. According to The Campaign for Nursing’s Future, surgical nurses must also pass the Certified Nurse Operating Room examination, which is available through the Competency and Credentialing Institute. This examination tests your knowledge of operating room procedures.

Complete a Surgical Internship

Though some hospitals may hire you as a surgical nurse once you earn your certificate, others require that you have more experience. One of the best ways to gain that experience is through a surgical internship. Many hospitals hire nurses on a probationary period and test your skills over three to six months up to one year. You may also have the option of completing an internship or a residency program at a local hospital. This lets you get some hands on knowledge in the field and develop the skills necessary to work in an OR.

Gain Additional Experience

To become a surgical nurse, you generally need some experience in different aspects of nursing and medicine. In addition to an internship, you will need to work as a nurse on a lower level before working your way up to a surgical rotation. Many hospitals will want to know that you have some experience working in an emergency room. Emergency room nurses spend long hours on their feet, work with people from different backgrounds and handle complex situations every day. Working in an ER helps you show employers that you can handle the problems associated with working in an operating room.

Related Resource: Doctor of Nursing Practice

Surgical nurses work in operating rooms and assist surgeons and doctors as they handle different types of operations. You need several years of experience in various medical fields before working in an OR. To become a surgical nurse, you must pass the NCLEX, take the credentialing exam for surgical nurses and have some experience working in a hospital setting.