Orthopaedic Nursing Career

If you are a registered nurse or planning on becoming one, and are seeking an exciting nursing specialty that helps a wide range of patients, orthopaedic nursing might be a good career path for you. Orthopaedic nurses work in musculoskeletal healthcare, helping patients who have muscular or skeletal injuries or disorders. They can work in a variety of settings, from outpatient to home care to emergency surgical settings. These can include a hospital, a physician’s office, an operating room, emergency room, or ambulatory care clinic. Some health issues they might deal with include broken bones, fractures, ligament injuries, or ongoing conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, or arthritis.

Certification is provided by the Orthopaedic Nurse Certification Board (ONCB) and is important for many reasons. Certification promotes high standards of care in the field, but also opens communication and networking links between orthopaedic nurses across the country. Continuing education and life-long learning are important for the ever-changing field of medicine, and becoming certified and joining professional organizations keeps you updated on new research, job opportunities, and continuing education possibilities. There are eligibility requirements for taking the exam, however. You must be a licensed, registered nurse with two full years of nursing experience, as well as a minimum of 1,000 hours of experience in an orthopaedic nursing practice within three years of taking the exam.

Earning your nursing degree is required before you can pursue this specialty, so get started now on your nursing education if you have not already. To become a registered nurse you will need either your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN). A BSN is not required, but as a four-year degree it will make you more qualified and competitive in your job search. Learn more about RN to BSN programs and how having your bachelor's in nursing can make you more competetive in your career. You will also need to pass your licensing exam, given by your state’s board of nursing. This is called the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination). Once you earn your degree and pass your exam, you will be ready to get started on your nursing career and advanced specialization. There will always be room for growth in this specialty as well. If you aspire to earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), you could become a nurse practitioner working in orthopaedic nursing as patients’ primary care provider, or you could become a head orthopaedic nurse or an orthopaedic case manager.

The average salary for a registered nurse is $63,750 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gaining specialized nursing experience and passing your certification exam would greatly increase your salary as well. Nursing is well known to be facing shortages, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this major growth and demand for nurses will continue for many years as the healthcare sector strives to meet the healthcare needs of the growing aging population. Specialty nurses with additional training will be in even higher demand, so get started now on your education if you desire a challenging, secure, and fulfilling career in nursing.

(Sources: ww.bls.gov, orthonurse.org, oncb.org)

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