Working as an Ophthalmic Nurse
Nurses with either a licensed practical or vocational nursing degree or registered nurses may enjoy working in ophthalmology. Ophthalmology offers a number of clinical settings and job types: you could work in the operating room as a scrub tech or operating room nurse, in an office conducting eye tests or in a retinal specialists office prepping patients for eye injections, among many other opportunities. Some nurses wear a number of different hats in their office, starting intravenous infusions for tests or procedures, prepping patients with eye drops for intravitreal injections or doing specialized vision testing such as visual field exams.
Education and Training
To work as RN, you need a minimum of an associate’s degree in nursing, which takes a minimum of two years to complete. A bachelor’s degree in nursing takes four years to complete. LPN programs take at least a year to complete. Before you can practice as either type of nurse, you must also take and pass the RN or LPN NCLEX tests given to all graduates of LPN or RN programs.
A typical day in a retinal specialist’s office could involve testing vision, placing dilating drops, starting IVs for fluorescein angiography, doing optical coherence tomography and prepping patients for injection in the eye to treat macular degeneration in diabetes. You might also make calls to patients to follow-up on procedures, do patient teaching about upcoming procedures or surgery or help out at the front desk in a small office. If you work as an ophthalmic operating room nurse, you may spend your days prepping patients for surgery and circulating during the surgery, making sure all the equipment is functioning and that the doctors have everything they need during the procedure.
The amount of money you make as an ophthalmic nurse varies according to the setting you work in as well as your degree. Generally speaking, RNs make more than LPNs or LVNs. If you work in an office, you will most likely make less money than you would working in a hospital setting. According to the United States Department of Labor, the mean salary for RNs in 2010 was $32.56 and the mean salary for LPNs was $19.88.
Ophthalmic jobs for nurses are not easy to find. Most ophthalmic offices use specially trained vision techs or medical assistants to do the tasks RNs or LPNs would do. Practices that perform intravenous procedures may hire nurses to start IVs so practice doctors don”t have to do them.
Office jobs in ophthalmology have benefits for nurses who don’t want to work weekends or nights, since most offices are open during the day and close on weekends and holidays. The pay may be slightly less, but the benefit may offset the loss of pay for many nurses.