What Does An OR Nurse Do?

An OR nurse – meaning operative room or perioperative nurse – is a nurse working in hospital theaters. Their role is to prepare the patient and family members for surgery, assist the surgeons during the intervention, and provide post-operative care to the patients, among other duties.

Some OR nurses also help to evaluate the state of a patient, plan and implement various treatment steps, and aid during and after the surgery.

This professional path is ideal for individuals who love working with patients directly, who’re not afraid to deal with extreme situations, and who can handle stress.

How Do You Become an OR Nurse?

To become an OR nurse, you must first become a registered nurse. There are many professional paths you can take. For instance, you can decide to pursue an associates’ degree or bachelor’s diploma.

While a BSN is usually not required by the role, most employers may ask new nurses to have a degree in nursing, so choosing the lengthier course could be more lucrative in the long run if your dream is to work in the operative room.

Positions may also be open to those with an associate’s degree who agree to complete an intern program in a perioperative role.

Newly graduated and licensed nurses may also have to complete an internship that includes both a didactic and practical component before being deemed ready to fulfill the role independently.

Experienced nurses who approach the role from a different specialty and background will have a similar lengthy orientation and learning curve to the OR role but the path may be shorter, depending on their prior knowledge and experience.

Consistently looking for job postings in the perioperative role throughout local hospitals or medical networks is the most effective way for nurses to find a position that they’re interested in applying for.

Where do OR Nurses Work?

OR nurses typically work in hospitals, although some day care centers and physicians may also need such a nurse in their facility. Another thing worth noting is that OR is actually an umbrella term covering a few different nursing roles.

We can talk about pre-OR, intra-OR, and post-OR nurses, all of which are broadly defined as perioperative healthcare professionals.

Pre-OR Nurses perform all pre-operative duties, including patient preparation for the procedure, liaising with family members, providing emotional support, and teaching pre-operative patient care to both patient and their family. Duties may include collecting vitals, checking the patient’s records and health history, performing detailed assessments to ensure the patient is stable for surgery, verifying paperwork, and more.

Intra-OR nurses work directly in the operating room and cover different roles, such as assisting the surgeon, supervising equipment and auxiliary personnel, completing paperwork, monitoring vitals throughout the procedure, or taking care of all sterile supplies.

Post-OR nurses work in recovery rooms, providing patient care immediately after the surgical procedure, when the patient either wakes up from anesthesia or is already awake but still drowsy. During their shifts, these nurses monitor the patient for eventual complications and either discharge the patient or transfer them to the ICU unit, depending on their post-operative evolution.

What Are the OR Nurse Duties?

While working in such an environment may sound exciting, the OR nurses have to fulfill an array of duties, such as:

  • Maintain patient safety standards
  • Monitor, record and communicate the condition of the patient and their needs to the interdisciplinary team
  • Ensure equipment is functioning correctly
  • Evaluate, remediate and document the surgical environment for aseptic merit
  • Coordinate use of supplies, instrumentation and equipment for operative care
  • Manage overall care of the patient before, during and after the surgical procedure
  • Advocate on behalf of the patient
  • Document preoperative and intraoperative care to be delivered in accordance with the surgeon, hospital, and regulatory agencies
  • Provide patient care with an understanding of age, culture-specific needs
  • Address the biological, emotional, developmental, psychosocial and educational status of the patient and their family and seeks to address concerns
  • Coordinates professional development within their practice
  • Performs core job functions with minimal supervision

What is the Salary of an OR Nurse?

OR nurses enjoy a privileged position within the healthcare facilities, that’s why these roles are sought-after. Their role is expected to increase in the following year, and even if the salary is affected by location, education, certifications, and experience, you can expect an average salary of about $66,713.

At the lowest-paying end, entry-level OR nurses typically earn around $49,419, while the highest paying roles offer about $93,569 a year.

In terms of job opportunities, you can expect to work in busy hospitals and healthcare facilities, in teaching facilities, surgeon practices, and even day care centers.

With this in mind, what do you say? Do you believe an OR nurse role is suitable for you, or would you rather choose another specialization?

What kind of OR nurse would you like to be?

Do you think the salary is fair compared to the expected duties and responsibilities?

Tell us in a comment below; we’d love to hear from you. And before you go, don’t forget to share this article with your nurse friends. It might help them make a choice too.