Operating Room Nurse Certification and Training Program Info

Read about certificate programs and certification information for the aspiring operating room nurse. See educational prerequisites, program coursework and popular career options.

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Essential Information

The primary pathway to becoming an operating room nurse is to first become an RN and then find a position within a surgical hospital. However, some health science centers, medical facilities, and even community colleges offer certificate programs for RNs who are interested in gaining further education in the field.

Consisting of classroom instruction and clinical components, perioperative nursing certificate programs last approximately four months. They are designed for professional RNs, and students learn how to maintain a sterile surgical environment, prep patients who are about to undergo a surgical procedure, disinfect surgical equipment, and position surgical patients. They also learn the basics of anesthesia, needles, and safety in the operating room. Relevant experience and knowledge can translate to certifications for those RNs who pass qualifying examinations.

Education Prerequisites

All schools and medical facilities offering perioperative nursing certificate programs require incoming students to be nurses who have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. Although registered nurses can hold a diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing, some schools with perioperative nursing programs prefer to accept only individuals with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Program Coursework

Operating room nursing certificate programs take about 16 weeks of full-time study to complete and include clinical or practical courses and lectures. Courses cover a variety of topics, such as:

  • Introduction to perioperative nursing
  • Maintaining a sterile environment
  • Perioperative assessment
  • Surgical environment
  • Aseptic techniques
  • Operating room safety
  • Scrubbing in
  • Needles and sutures
  • Anesthesia

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a perioperative nursing certificate program can earn a few different nursing positions within an operating room team. Some of these include:

  • Operating room nurse
  • Scrub nurse
  • Circulator nurse
  • Operating room director

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that job opportunities for all registered nurses, including those working in an operating room, would grow by 26% from 2010-2020, which is faster than average for all occupations. The mean annual wages for registered nurses in May 2012 were $67,930.

Certification Options

Nurses who have completed at least two years of preoperative nursing experience are eligible to sit for a certification examination given by the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN). Students who complete a certificate program accredited by AORN can often have clinical program hours count towards those two years of experience.

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