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Ophthalmic Nurse: Education and Career Information

Every specialized medical area needs nurses, including those in eye care. This is a very detailed and intense area that requires a lot of training and education to be successful. An ophthalmic nurse assists in making sure patients are taken care of who need general eye care, and other conditions dealing with eye disease and injury. This includes astigmatism, farsightedness, nearsightedness, cataracts, glaucoma, eye trauma and scratched corneas to name a few. An ophthalmic nurse helps individuals from birth through adulthood, but there are also specialized areas within this profession that could assist in career advancement.

What does an Opthalmic Nurse do?

An ophthalmic nurse works to help assess, diagnose, and treat patients with eye injuries and various diseases. This means they must be able to check the vision of a patient and work with the opthamologist in performing the physical exam to detect other possible illnesses that may have an impact on what is going on with their eyes. They also administer medication, demonstrate how to use certain medications, and educate patients on how to care for their eyes and recognize when something is wrong. They also assist in making sure the patient’s glasses or other corrective lenses fit property. They assist with eye surgeries and patient care. You will find ophthalmic nurses in private offices, eye care centers, hospitals and clinics.

How much does an Opthalmic Nurse earn?

This is a specialty career where you can make a lucrative salary. On average, they make around $84,000 annually to start depending on the level of experience, education and location. Working for a private office can garner much more money per year, and additional specialties will exponentially increase salary potential.

What skills are needed to be successful as an Opthalmic Nurse?

There are a number of skills needed to be successful in this area:

Communication: Communication is key, with both patients, families and healthcare professionals. They must be able to understand what the patient is saying, and get that information to the treating physician. They must also be able to explain any procedures and treatments to patients.

In-depth care: The nurse must be knowledgeable about in-depth care procedures, including surgery, pre-operative care, assessment of the patient and postoperative treatment. This requires an extensive knowledge of the human body.

Technology: This position uses a variety of high-tech equipment. The nurse must be well-informed and adjusted to using these machines and instruments to conduct the proper assessment and treatment procedures.

Management: The nurse must be able to juggle a number of things at one time, including their administrative work. Effectively maintaining patient records, and being able to work well with and manage others is key. They must be highly organized and able to meet the needs of the patient and healthcare professionals.

Compassion: The nurse must be sensitive to the needs of the patient and their families. Operating in a caring and patient manner is a must. Depending on the level of work that must be done, the patient can be very emotional. Being able to assist in their time of need is crucial to the successful treatment of patients.

Patience: One of the main things a nurse must possess is patience. They deal with a number of healthcare professionals, patients and their families. Things may become very stressful at times, and they must be able to handle each situation with poise.

Internship Requirements

Every nursing program has clinical requirements in order to obtain hands-on experience. This varies depending on the type of program the student is in. For the advanced specialization, the nurse must complete two years, or 4,000 hours of experience in ophthalmic registered nursing.

Education Requirements

An ophthalmic nurse must attend nursing school and obtain the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Although the path to obtaining a nursing certification can be done through an associate’s degree and diploma program, a bachelor’s degree will properly position the student for advancement and growth. They must study human anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, physiology, microbiology and nursing. The initial path to a nursing degree under a bachelor’s program is four years.

Once the student has obtained the degree, they must obtain a license to practice as a registered nurse. They must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, which tests the knowledge of patient care, safety and infection control, pharmacology and patient management. There are various requirements for maintaining the license.

Once the license has been obtained, a nurse wanting to go into ophthalmology must obtain their National Certifying Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses certification. Although voluntary, this certification will demonstrate the commitment to the career and will open the doors to other opportunities and career advancement. To obtain this specialization, nurses must have a valid license, take the exam and have the necessary internship requirements.

Many nurses go on to receive their Master’s degree, which is an additional 2 years, and Ph.D. degree, which is another 2 years to advance both professionally and financially. These additional degrees can assist in becoming nursing directors, instructors and more.

If you are looking for a rewarding career path that could make a difference in the lives of patient eye care, this is an excellent career choice. Becoming a nurse is a tedious process that requires extensive knowledge of the human body, but once the criteria has been met, this is a profession that is consistently growing and can be very lucrative. Obtaining a specialization is smart and will quickly help the student stand out in their profession. Nurses are in high demand, and having a specialty in place will give the nurse access to standard general procedures, and operating in other areas where additional education and certifications are required. Being proactive in making the decision to prepare for these additional requirements should be made once the specialty has been determined. For those who believe in the power of good eyesight, this is the right choice.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association
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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
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*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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