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How to Become a Surgical Nurse Practitioner

Majors Overview August 18, 2013

A surgical nurse practitioner has an extremely important role in the operating room. They assist doctors in providing the highest quality medical care at a time when extremely precise medical care is required.

A surgical nurse practitioner is often responsible for providing care for patients before, during, and after their procedures. Physically this includes tasks such as dispensing medication, pain management, checking vitals, changing bandages, and assisting the surgeons. Emotionally, nurses may be called upon to provide support, explaining the procedure and what to expect to the patient, answering questions, and helping the patient and family feel comfortable.

Since these nurses are so involved with the surgery and related care, it is important that they receive adequate training and preparation. There are a few requirements that those interested in the field must go through to enter this career path, but those who desire to work in this exciting field will be pleased that they put in the effort. Nursing is projected to be one of the quickest growing fields in the coming years, and surgical nurses have many avenues for advancement.

Become a Registered Nurse

Before individuals are able to attain the special certifications to be a surgical nurse, they must first obtain their standard, registered nursing license. These are earned through the future nurse’s Board of Nursing, but the requirements from state to state have many similarities.

Aspiring nurses must first complete a degree in nursing from an accredited program and then pass the NCLEX. The NCLEX is an exam developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The test measures potential nurses’ abilities to recall and apply the information learned while in school. Once the exam is passed, the applicant submits the scores and information to their local nursing board. The board is responsible for verifying the information, as well as running various screenings such as criminal background checks.

Once the applicant has completed the requirements for a license and have been approved by the board, they will be issued a license. The license must be renewed on a regular basis according to the requirements put forth by their local board.

The Medical Surgical Nursing Certification Board

There is no universal certification required for all registered nurses throughout the United States who desire to work in the operating room. However, the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) is a widely recognized and often required certification that shows the nurse in question has added expertise within the area of surgical nursing. By obtaining this additional certification, nurses find that their career options and advancement opportunities increase. It is also the documentation of knowledge and capabilities of the nurse in question. The certifications also promote a higher quality of patient care.

Eligibility and the Exam

To be eligible to take the exam from the MSNCB (Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board), the individual must be a registered nurse within the United States or its territories and not have any restrictions on their license. They must also have two years of experience working as an RN within a medical-surgical setting and have a minimum of 2,000 hours over the past three years of practice for the medical-surgical setting. This can include clinical, managerial, or clinical practice. There are study aides, sample questions, and review courses offered through the MSNCB.

Other Options

While certification is the most commonly professed route to becoming a surgical nurse practitioner, it is also possible to get a master’s degree in the specialty of surgical nursing. This higher degree will also demonstrate the specialized abilities of the nurse.

Surgical nurse practitioners provide patients and doctors with valuable services and improve the quality of care before, during, and after the procedures. To become qualified for the position, it is always a good idea to become certified within the specialty to show the credentials for additional career options and advancement opportunities. The most important and significant requirement is to obtain a nursing license and obtaining hours of work within the operating room. Once the nurse has completed these steps, they are well on their way to becoming a surgical nurse practitioner.

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