Certified Plastic Surgery Nurse Education Requirements

Plastic surgery nurses require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Registered nurses (RNs) with experience in plastic surgery have the option of earning professional certification as certified plastic surgical nurses. To become an RN, they must complete a diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree program in nursing and pass the RN licensing examination. After gaining at least two years of experience in the field of plastic surgical nursing, they can take the plastic surgery nursing examination. Some nurses also pursue specialty training in plastic surgery nursing through a postgraduate program.

Required Education Diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing
Other Requirements RN license and two years of experience as a plastic surgery nurse, including 1,000 practice hours over two of the past three years
Projected Job Growth (2012-22)19% (for all RNs)*
Median Salary (2013) $66,220 (for all RNs)*

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Plastic Surgery Nurse Certification Requirements

Voluntary certification for plastic surgery nurses is offered by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board, part of the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses. To be eligible to test for national recognition as a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN), applicants must meet three criteria. First, they must have current licensure as an RN in either the United States or Canada. Also, during two of the past three years, applicants must have at least 1,000 hours of experience in plastic surgical nursing as an RN, either in general staff, administration, research or teaching. They need at least two years total of plastic surgical experience.

Education Requirements

Becoming an RN

To become an RN, students must earn a diploma, a 2-year associate's degree or 4-year bachelor's degree in nursing. These programs often include studies in anatomy and physiology, biology, health assessment and basic pharmacology, as well as numerous supervised clinical experiences.

Every state requires prospective nurses to undergo licensing before they are allowed to practice in a hospital or other health care facility. In addition to meeting education requirements, RN applicants must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Other requirements vary by state.

Plastic Surgery Nursing Courses

Full programs in reconstructive or plastic surgery nursing aren't available; however, courses in this specialty are often included in postgraduate RN First Assistant and nurse practitioner programs.

Students in these classes learn to conduct pre- and post-operative assessments, observe plastic surgery patients' recovery and provide them with pre- and post-operative instructions. Specific topics covered in plastic surgery nurse training might include the following:

  • Burns and plastic surgery nursing
  • Liposuction nursing procedures
  • Aftercare for reconstructive surgery to the head and neck
  • Recovery and care for breast augmentation
  • Nursing techniques for abdomen patients
  • Medical terminology in plastic surgery nursing
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