Orthopaedic Nurse: Education and Career Information
If you’re interested in performing duties that allow you to care for individuals with special disorders like arthritis, broken bones, osteoporosis, and joint replacements, a career as an orthopaedic nurse would be a good move for you. This can be a very lucrative career path for the right person and involves intense study of the bones and joints. This is a specialized position that could be a stepping stone to advancement. This is a position that could help the right person become a nurse at a very advanced level that requires a number of years of education, but it will be well worth the time and effort involved.
What does an Orthopaedic Nurse do?
An orthopaedic nurse specializes in the care of patients that have musculoskeletal disorders and diseases such as osteoporosis, genetic malformations, broken bones, fractures, arthritis and other conditions. This is for elderly, adults and pediatric patients. They are trained in neurovascular status monitoring, traction, casting and continuous motion therapy. This position works with healthcare professionals and families to disseminate knowledge about the prevention of musculosketal disease, symptoms and treatments. This position has a number of roles, including operating as a nurse practitioner, office manager, director, R/N first assistant, clinical nurse specialist, head nurse, staff nurse and nurse manager. You can find them in emergency rooms, operating rooms, pediatric units, surgical units, rehabilitation facilities, home health agencies, gerontology units and oncology units.
How much does an Orthopaedic nurse earn?
This type of nurses is the sixth highest paid nursing specialty, with a starting salary of $80,000. The amount varies according to education level, experience and location of the job. The job outlook through 2024 is expected to rise 14%, offering additional opportunities for advancement and higher pay. Depending on where the individual is in their career, they can make upwards of $90,000 to over $100,000 annually.
What skills are needed to be successful as an orthopaedic nurse?
Since this is a specialty position, there are a number of skills required to be successful in this career path.:
Communication: Orthopaedic nurses must be able to communicate with healthcare professionals, patients and their families both verbally and in writing, in order to be effective. They must have excellent customer service skills in order to deal with a number of personalities and continuously perform their job well.
Attention: An orthopaedic nurse must be attentive and be able to understand instructions, ask questions, and determine when the patient is having complications.
Persuasion: They must be persuasive enough to get their patients to follow all instructions and change their behavior if warranted.
Sensitivity: Orthopaedic nurses must be sensitive to the needs of others, understand different feelings and reactions, and how others deal with pain. They must be able to detect when the pain is unbearable and be able to deal with a range of emotions from both the patient and their family members.
Assessment and Learning Skills: An orthopaedic nurse must be able to do their own research, understand medical terms and languages, and correctly interpret a physician’s assessment and prescription plan.
Problem solving: An orthopaedic nurse must be proactive, taking the initiative to detect and solve problems that may occur to bring them to the attention of the orthopedic doctor.
Management: Orthopaedic nurses must be a good manager of time and be able to handle a number of administrative skills at one time. This is essential in being able to work well in this position, as it can be very demanding and stressful at times. They must also be able to manage a number of patients at one time.
Since this is a specialty area, internship requirements vary, but most programs require practice of two full years as an RN and work a minimum of 4,000 hours as an RN in orthopaedic nursing. This is after the required internship requirements of the general nursing program.
There are a number of requirements attached to becoming an orthopaedic nurse. The first step is to obtain a nursing diploma from a program, get an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree, or go to a four-year program to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Getting the BSN will properly position you for future advancement. After obtaining the degree, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to get the nursing license. Then, there are a series of additional requirements, including an internship working as an RN in an orthopaedic nursing practice.
While working in the nursing practice, it is a good time to start studying for the Orthopaedic Nurse Certification exam, which is mandatory to achieve this specialty. Once the exam has been completed and passed, the student will qualify for the Certified Orthopaedic Nurse (ONC) specialty. This is a great achievement, and offers additional room for advancement. Individuals who achieve this specialty also go on to get their Master’s Post-Graduate or Doctoral degrees from an advanced practice. (APRN) nursing program that will allow you to go on to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP). This opens the doors for further pay increases and increased responsibility.
This is a very challenging but rewarding career path for someone who wants to care for individuals and give them a better perspective of improving their quality of life as much as they can. This is a highly sensitive position, and is only suited for those who understand the levels of pain that individuals can go through while dealing with joints and bone defects. If you are one of those individuals who has high aspirations and are very interested in the musculoskeletal system, this is definitely a career path for you. Although there are a number of educational requirements involved, this could be a position that not only provides high monetary compensation, but a career that spans a number of areas for advancement.