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Orthopedic Nurse: Job Responsibilities and Salary Information

Job Descriptions July 20, 2013

Orthopedic nurses provide crucial care to patients with musculoskeletal conditions. These nurses specialize in treating issues such as fractures, joint replacements and arthritis, in conjunction with orthopedic doctors and surgeons. Nurses in orthopedics perform specialty duties, so they must have a working knowledge of the field. Due to their expertise and function, orthopedic nurses command a good salary, generally around $57,000 annually, though this may vary by location and experience. If you are interested in disorders affecting the muscles and skeletal system, a career in orthopedic nursing may be right for you.

Orthopedic Nurse Job Duties

Orthopedic nurses treat patients with conditions of the musculoskeletal system and work with doctors on a daily basis to treat and manage these disorders. The specific job duties for an orthopedic nurse can vary by experience and other factors, but common responsibilities include:

•Administer pain medications
•Assess new patients
•Assist orthopedists
•Change bed pans
•Change dressings
•Create and enact patient care plans
•Follow-up post-surgery to monitor surgical sites
•Inform doctors of changes in the conditions of patients
•Insert IVs
•Monitor patients’ vitals
•Provide information and support to patients
•Repositioning patients

It is possible that job applicants for an orthopedic nurse position may not know every duty expected of them until they start their new job. Assigned duties may expand with time as well. An orthopedic nurse may be given more responsibilities if he or she has more experience or as needed by location. Some orthopedic nurses may assume a leadership role, supervising nursing assistants and other nursing staff. Nurses are sometimes asked to liaison with the public and provide informational lectures or workshops.

Conditions Treated by Orthopedic Nurses

The primary responsibility of orthopedic nurses is to care for people who suffer from a range of musculoskeletal disorders and diseases. An orthopedic nurse may treat patients with conditions such as:

•Arthritis
•Bone fracture
•Broken bone
•Joint replacement
•Genetic Malformations
•Osteoarthritis
•Osteopenia
•Osteoporosis

Orthopedic nurses care for patients in hospitals and other settings. These patients may require surgery and after care, or come in for outpatient care. Orthopedic nurses may assist with surgeries and recovery to help patients regain strength, mobility and range of motion in their affected joints. An orthopedic nurse will also educate patients and their families about home care for a range of conditions and provide emotional support.

Orthopedic Nurse Requirements

Orthopedic nurses required high-level nursing skills to perform their job duties. You must obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass a licensure examination to become a registered nurse. The exam is known as the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurse). Then, you must continue your education to earn a master’s degree in orthopedic nursing. A master’s degree program is necessary to learn the specialized skills needed to carry out the duties of an orthopedic nurse. Your training includes medical terminology and an overview of medical procedures you will need to perform and assist with in the field of orthopedics. You must also pass an exam certifying yourself as an orthopedic nurse.

The job outlook for orthopedic nurses is promising. The demand for registered nurses is increasing at a faster than average rate. Orthopedic nurses have a higher training than most registered nurses, so they should have an easier time attracting employers. Due to a growing section of the population who is aging, the need for orthopedic nurses should continue to rise, so that care is available for older adults who are at a greater risk for musculoskeletal issues. An orthopedic nurse who can perform their duties will be welcome at orthopedic hospital units, surgical units, private practices, nursing facilities, clinics, and sports medicine practices.

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