What is an Operating Room Nurse?

An operating room nurse is a highly skilled professional who works in a fast-paced setting. Nurses who work in operating rooms have the same skill sets as traditional floor nurses but have taken the next step and continued their education. With the additional skills they have acquired, they are able to assist surgeons in performing very intricate and complex surgical procedures. Operating room nurses can work in almost any capacity within the nursing industry but their specialized skills make them a highly sought after commodity.

What is an Operating Room Nurse?

An operating room nurse is highly skilled professionals who work side by side surgeons during very intricate and highly detailed surgical procedures. An operating room nurse is taught how to handle herself during very stressful procedures that may involve life or death situations. Nurses who work in operating rooms must be very detail-oriented and able to take instructions quickly and efficiently.

Operating room nurses are often regular RNs who have gone back to school to further degree into a specialized field. This can include taking advanced anatomy and physiology courses as well as studying a variety of different facets of medicine, including biology, anesthesiology, kinesiology, and many others. These nurses have sometimes taken classes that many surgeons take that teach surgical skills and techniques.

Operating Room Nurse Job Description/Duties

An operating room nurse has received specialized training that allows them to prepare patients for surgery, assist surgeons during the surgical procedure, and provide the patient with the appropriate care after the surgery is completed. Surgical nurses are also sometimes required to work with a patient’s family when it comes to their aftercare or making sure they have everything they need on hand when the patient is ready to go home.

Surgical nurses are also in charge of preparing the operating room. They are responsible for making sure the room is properly sanitized and that all of the tools are laid out properly. It is up to the operating room nurse to ensure that the recovery room is also properly prepared with any items that may be needed while the patient is there. While the recovery room does not have to do with actual surgery, it is where the immediate aftercare takes place and also where strict supervision is required at all times.

Education Requirements

Although a BSN is not required to be considered qualified for an operating room nurse position, it is extremely helpful. A two-year degree may be all that is needed. For those who wish to assist the physician, an advanced degree will be necessary. RNs who have completed an internship program may be allowed to work in the pre-op areas of the surgical ward. Many hospitals will allow an RN to assist in the operating room as long as they have agreed to pursue a BSN at some point in the future.

There are also several certifications that may be useful as well. They include the CNOR for RMs who work in pre-op areas, a CRNFA for surgeon’s First Assistants, and CNS-CP for clinical nurse specialists. These certifications show that the nurse has completed specific programs designed to improve the overall skills that they will need while working in the operating room. In fact, in order for an operating room nurse to maintain their nursing license, they must commit to taking a certain number of continuing education credits each year. This allows them to stay up to date on current trends and topics related to their particular area of nursing. It also shows that they are committed to providing each patient with the best possible care.


Operating room nurses have a payscale range of $50,000 to $94,000 on average. The median pay rate falls around $67,000 per year. The pay for an operating room will depend primarily on how long they have been working as a nurse, their level of education, and whether or not they have completed an internship that has allowed them to work within an operating room setting. Their level of experience and willingness to learn as much as they can about the operating room and how it works will be the determining factor in future opportunities and pay increases.

Becoming an operating room nurse offers an individual an opportunity to work at the core of the medical field. They will work hand in hand with physicians during extremely stressful procedures. The challenges and rewards are many and the opportunity for advancement is only limited by the individual’s personal motivation and desire to succeed.

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