Plastic Surgery Nurse

Nursing is a recession-proof job that continues to grow and becomes more specialized as medicine evolves. Plastic surgery nursing is one specialty that might be right for you if you are interested in practicing nursing in a surgical environment. Plastic surgery nurses help their patients before, during, and after their cosmetic or reconstructive surgical procedures. Before surgery, a plastic surgery nurse informs a patient about the procedure and the recovery, prep them for surgery, and sometimes prep the operating room and sterilize equipment prior to a procedure. During the procedure plastic surgery nurses directly assist the surgeon and continue to monitor the patient. After surgery, the plastic surgery nurse changes dressings of wounds, ices swollen areas, administers medication, educates the patient about their recovery, and continues to monitor them. Knowledge of wound care is especially important for plastic surgery nurses. Most plastic surgery nurses work in specialty in-patient or out-patient clinics, but they can also work for general hospitals.

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If you are interested in this type of nursing and are not yet a nurse, find the right nursing degree program to get started. An associate degree will require only two years of education, but can also be a stepping stone to earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. Earning a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is often considered optimal by employers and professional nursing organizations, and will enable you to take on more nursing responsibilities as well as help make you more competitive in the hiring process. Upon graduation, all nurses must pass the nursing licensing exam, called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Passing this exam is a requirement to become a licensed registered nurse, ready to pursue any nursing specialty including plastic surgery nursing. Joining the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses is also a good first step toward this career, whether you have earned your degree yet or not. Professional organizations usually offer many continuing education opportunities, conferences, networking, as well as job postings, and information about developments in the field.

Plastic surgery nursing certification is an option for this nursing specialty, and is administered by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). By taking a certification exam and passing, you can earn the credential CPSN (certified plastic surgery nurse). Unlike earning your nursing degree and license, certification in nursing is almost always voluntary. It is not legally required to practice as a plastic surgery nurse. However, it is highly recommended as most employers these days consider it a requirement for competitive plastic surgery nursing jobs. Certification as a plastic surgery nurse not only helps prepare you for practice in the field, but it proves to your patients, co-workers, and potential employers alike that you are committed to excellence in the plastic surgery nursing field and that your nursing skills meet national standards. Regardless of when you earned or will earn your degree, this field is always developing and incorporating new research and medical innovations, so certification, which needs to be renewed every three years, will also keep you current in the field and demonstrate that your skills are up-to-date. The eligibility requirements for taking this exam include being a licensed RN, and having two years experience as an RN in the field of plastic surgery nursing within the last five years. Recertification every three years can be avoided if you take forty-five hours of continuing education during that three-year period.

The outlook for specialist nurses is very good, as nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the already growing healthcare sector. Additionally, plastic surgery has also been on the upswing. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, plastic surgery procedures increased 69% in the first decade of the millennium. There are also plenty of paths for you to take within this career path. With experience and continuing education, you can enjoy even more opportunities for advancement, such as becoming a nurse supervisor or nurse educator in the area of plastic surgery nursing. You could also earn your master’s degree to become a plastic surgery nurse practitioner. Alternatively, some choose to become private nurses to help private patients recover from elective procedures.

Plastic Surgery Nurse Salary

According to, the average national salary for an operating room nurse is $52,259 to $75,002. This will depend not only on your employer and geographical location, but also on your degree and experience. Potentially, a plastic surgery nurse could make significantly more working in a private surgery center or in a plastic surgeon’s office.

Plastic surgery nursing could be a unique nursing path. People skills and a pleasant disposition are often desired in candidates along with good nursing skills. Patients may at times be more demanding at clinics providing primarily elective procedures, however, treating patients who are not necessarily ill or at serious risk could make for a more positive, less emotionally draining nursing job. You will need some nursing experience to get started in plastic surgery nursing though, so find the right nursing degree program if you have not already or find a nursing program that will help advance your career such as an RN to BSN program, LPN to BSN program or a master’s in nursing program. Many plastic surgery nurse gained necessary surgical experience by first working as a surgical nurse.

(Sources: American Society of Plastic Surgery Nurses, Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board, American Society of Plastic Surgeons)