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An Orthopedic Nurse’s Job Duties

Career News July 25, 2013

The medical field is vast, leading many to believe that the only types of nurses are registered nurses (RNs). While there’s nothing wrong with working to become an RN, there are other types of nursing specializations as well. One, for instance, is the orthopedic nurse, whose duties, generally speaking, are caring for and treating patients that suffer from musculoskeletal diseases. Orthopedic nurses typically work in hospitals, health clinics, research facilities and for private companies, helping patients suffering from the aforementioned musculoskeletal conditions while attempting to discover better ways and cures to various diseases and conditions. According to, orthopedic nurses make an average salary of $57,000 per year, which is less than the $64,690 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) that the average nurse makes. Why? There are several factors for this. First of all, orthopedic nurses aren’t always on the go, like a RN, so it’s a more relaxed schedule. And secondly, they usually don’t work 12-hour shifts, but more typical office hours.

Here’s a closer look at more specific duties of an orthopedic nurse – Conditions of Care:

We’ve already told you that orthopedic nurses provide treatment and care for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Specifically, these include the likes of joint replacements, bone and joint fractures and dislocations, genetic musculoskeletal deformities and variations, arthritis, bone disease and osteoporosis.

Job Duties

Orthopedic nurses specialize in bone, joint and skeletal care, so they can provide patients with a great deal of information regarding certain conditions. For instance, when seeing a patient for the first time, the nurse will first analyze the patient and access the problem or condition that the patient is experiencing. Then, the nurse can recommend rehabilitation programs, other treatment measures or even reconstructive surgery to remedy certain situations. Finally, orthopedic nurses can also analyze the patient’s lifestyle and determine if there are adjustments that the patient can make to his or her condition more tolerable to live with as treatment is progressing or if there is no viable treatment for the condition.

Surgery Prep

Orthopedic nurses are different from orthopedic surgeons. Nurses are those that provide the pre- and post-op care in the event of a surgery, and surgeons, conversely, are professionals that carry out such a surgery. However, another part of an orthopedic nurse’s job duties is to prepare the patient for surgery. This also includes assisting the surgeon during the surgical procedure. How can an orthopedic nurse be of assistance exactly? Orthopedic nurses are trained to check neurovascular status, as well as other aspects like motion therapy during the procedure. Following the procedure, it’s the role of the orthopedic nurse to inform the patient of the next steps of the recovery process, both short- and long-term. This includes informing the patient of the medication he or she will be taking as well as recommendations on any rehabilitation programs.

General Education

Finally, the last role of the orthopedic nurse that we’ll cover here is providing information on musculoskeletal conditions and other related injuries and symptoms. Orthopedic nursing is a specialty branch of the general nursing profession, so such nurses are specifically trained and educated in knowing about and treating these types of diseases. And patients of orthopedic nurses that show symptoms of these diseases and conditions are likely to have a lot of questions about them and how they can prevail from them. It’s the job of the orthopedic nurse to thoroughly answer such questions, so the patient is informed of the circumstances and has a good understanding of what can and cannot be done to remedy their situation.

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