An orthopaedic nurse receives specialized education and training to care for patients with diseases and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. These nurses play an important role in providing care to patients who have bone fractures, degenerative diseases, joint replacement surgery or other conditions that affect the bones and muscles. Orthopaedic nurses are highly trained in casting, external fixation care, neurovascular status monitoring, traction and continuous motion therapy. With their specialized education and skills, they can assess patients, administer treatments, provide procedures as well as administer medications. They also utilize their knowledge and skills to ensure patients remain as comfortable as possible. Orthopaedic nurses can teach patients new methods for performing personal tasks and provide them with information regarding assistance programs, support groups and other resources they may require.
Education and Certification Requirements
To become a certified orthopaedic nurse, you must first complete a registered nursing program at an accredited school and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Once you have obtained your RN license, you can then take the orthopaedic certification exam given by the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board. Passing this exam and receiving certification will provide you with the credentials that indicate your expertise in this specialized field.
There are many career opportunities for skilled orthopaedic nurses. These include hospital orthopaedic units, medical and surgical units, private orthopaedic practices, clinics, nursing facilities as well as sports medicine practices.
Responsibilities of an Orthopaedic Nurse
Orthopaedic nurse’s daily responsibilities may include assessing new patients, monitoring existing patient’s conditions, providing treatments such as dressing changes and administering medications as ordered by the physician. Orthopaedic nurses also provide care to patients who have recently undergone surgery. This may include monitoring and recording vital signs, monitoring the surgical site and informing doctors of any changes with the patient’s condition. Keeping the patient comfortable is of the utmost importance, which could involve repositioning the patient and administering pain medications as needed.
The average annual salary for a certified orthopaedic nurse is approximately $63,871 although salaries can vary according to the nurse’s position and experience, the employer and the location. Most employers offer excellent benefit packages including paid sick days, holidays and vacation days.
Job Outlook for Orthopaedic Nurses
Because orthopaedic nurses are registered nurses and can be utilized in a variety of different medical settings, registered nurses remain one of the fastest growing professions in the nation. Due to the rising numbers of the aging population, the need for orthopaedic nurses is expected to continue to grow.
Sub-Specialties and Advanced Opportunities for Orthopaedic Nurses
As orthopaedic nurses gain experience, there are several advanced positions they may qualify for such as head nurse, nursing instructor, nurse manager or director of nursing. Orthopaedic nurses may also choose to specialize in certain fields, which could include emergency rooms, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports medicine, operating rooms, oncology, home health and rehabilitation centers. Certified orthopaedic nurses also have the opportunity to continue their educations and advance their position to an orthopaedic nurse practitioner or an orthopaedic clinical nurse specialist.