Operating Room (OR) nurse is a job that requires dedication, fantastic leadership and organizational skills. The job is not for everyone as the stakes are high and require great attention to detail and stamina, but the work is rewarding.
Not only is the work rewarding personally, but professionally OR nurses are in high demand now that elective surgeries are returning after the COVID pandemic.
These health professionals stand to make great pay and have a great pathway for career growth into higher-paying specialties, such as cardiovascular operating room nurse, master’s degree level nursing or travel nursing.
Looking for highly skilled and experienced OR staff for your facility? Contact us here.
What is an Operating Room Nurse?
An OR Nurse primarily works in the operating room at hospitals and surgical facilities. They oversee the surgery room and ensure it is prepped and sanitized, as well as take care of the patient before, during and after surgery, while supporting the surgeon and the surgical team.
Their duties include, but are not limited to:
- Providing patients care in recovery, procedure and operating rooms.
- Stocking rooms with sterile surgical equipment, supplies, etc.
- Developing and implementing nursing care plans for surgical patients.
- Preparing patients for surgery by cleaning and disinfecting operation areas.
- Assisting surgeons during surgical procedures.
- Applying sterile techniques in handling medical instruments and equipment pre-, during, and post-surgery.
- Collaborating with surgical teams and other medical professionals on patient medication and post-surgery care.
- Updating patient files and medical records.
- Assisting with the ordering, maintenance and storage of surgical equipment/supplies.
- Providing patients with post-surgery care instructions and answering questions.
Operating Room Nurse Job Growth
Healthcare jobs are growing in leaps and bounds and it is considered one of the fastest-growing segments for new jobs in the U.S. with a growth rate of 9% over the next 10 years. And, nursing is one of the most critical areas for this growth.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects 194,000 RN nurse job openings annually and expects the labor market to increase RN nurse jobs by 6% between 2020 and 2030.
However, the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” published in 2019 in the American Journal of Medical Quality, predicted a shortage of registered nationwide by 2030, with the Western region of the country being hit the strongest. More recent findings published in Health Affairs, April 2022, uncovered the total supply of registered nurses has dropped by more than 100,000 between 2020 and 2021 – the largest drop in four decades.
With baby boomers more than doubling the aging population, the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and RNs coming closer to retirement age, the need for registered nurses in all segments, including operating rooms will continue to rise.
According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), a nonprofit membership and certification organization for OR professionals, OR nurse is the sixth highest RN specialty in demand since 2019.
Additional Operating Room Nursing Specialties
Perioperative or operating room RNs include more specialized areas for the operating room,
- Pre-Op RN are perioperative nurses, which is patient care before surgery.
- Intra-Op RN is an intraoperative nurse who cares for patients when they arrive in the surgery and anesthesia unit.
- Post-Op or PACU RN care for the patient after surgery who are recovering from anesthesia after surgery.
Salary and Demographics
According to Zippia, an aggregate job data site, there are over 52,042 operating room nurses in the United States of which 85.2% are women and 14.8% are men. The average age of an OR nurse is over 40.
Operating room nurses with a master’s degree have the earning potential of over $94,000 annually. The mean pay for OR nurses with a bachelor’s degree is over $81,000 per year. States with the highest earning potential are Hawaii and California.
The largest industry segment hiring OR nurses is the healthcare industry at 85%. The second highest industry hiring OR nurses is education at 5%.
Best States for OR Nurse Jobs
The top five states hiring the most OR nurse jobs are:
- New York
And the U.S. city with the highest demand for OR nurses is currently Austin, Texas, according to Zippia’s job data.
The highest earning potential for OR nurses is in California and Hawaii, with New Mexico, Wisconsin and Michigan in the top running.
Education for OR Nurses
Most employers require OR nurses to be an RN and have a bachelor’s degree, but it is possible to have an associate degree in nursing, though earnings are higher with a BSN. Nurses are required to have 1-2 years of operating room experience before working unsupervised in the OR.
New nursing graduates will need to complete an internship program and experienced nurses will need one year of bedside to be considered for the role. If you are planning on doing a travel nurse assignment as an OR Nurse, you will need two years of nursing experience before you can be a travel nurse.
Some employers may require certifications as well.
Certifications for OR Nursing
The primary certification for OR nurses is the CNOR, Certified Perioperative Nurse. It is not always required, but many employers will ask for it. The CNOR is the stepping stone for obtaining additional OR certifications if nurses want to continue developing their OR career. Different specialty areas of operating room nursing certifications include:
- CNOR for perioperative RNs
- CRNFA for first assistants who assist the surgeon
- CSSM for bachelor’s educated OR managers
- CNS-CP for master’s educated clinical nurse specialists
How Soliant can Help
If you are looking to grow your operating room career and need an advocate to help you gain assignments in the states and facilities you want, Soliant can help. It can be hard to get to the top of an interview list, but with over 30 years of experience in the industry, we can help get you there.
Fill out our form for Operating Room Nurse jobs and a hiring manager will reach out to discuss our opportunities further.
If you are a surgical center or a hospital looking to fill vacancies in your OR department, we can help. With over 30 years of experience as one of the nation’s largest healthcare staffing companies, we have access to hundreds of prescreened and vetted OR professionals ready to interview today. Let us know how we can help!