Health Career Center

Orthopaedic Nurse

Orthopaedic nursing has its roots in Victorian England. Dame Agnes Hunt was an English nurse with septic arthritis who assisted patients with joint problems. Her patients included wounded veterans and crippled children who required orthopaedic type treatments. Until recently, orthopaedic nurses were typically assigned to orthopaedic units and operating rooms. Now most hospitals are equipped with orthopaedic units to treat patients with joint problems. Orthopaedic nurses can also be found in palliative, pediatric, preventative, and rehabilitative care clinics. Orthopaedic nurses must undergo rigorous training prior to becoming licensed.

Roles of An Orthopaedic Nurse

Orthopaedic nurses assist people with musculoskeletal problems, teach at nursing training programs, help people recuperating from knee, ankle, and other joint injuries, and conduct research. Orthopaedic nurses can fill any of these roles:
  • Staff nurse
  • Head nurse
  • Nurse coordinator
  • Case manager
  • Nurse supervisor
  • RN first assistant
  • Nursing educator
  • Director
  • Advanced nurse practitioner
  • Nurse administrator
  • Clinical specialist
  • Office manager
  • Nurse research
Practice Settings

Orthopaedic nurses work for various organizations, including home healthcare companies, universities and colleges, convalescent centers, physicians’ clinics, and hospitals. Orthopaedic nurses also work in:
  • Surgical units
  • Emergency rooms
  • Oncology clinics
  • University athletic facilities
  • Trauma centers
  • Adult orthopaedic units
  • Pediatric orthopaedic units
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Palliative care facilities
  • Hospital nursing schools
  • Gerontology units
Education and Training

Orthopaedic nurses possess specialized knowledge and skills. They can be licensed as vocational, licensed practical, or registered nurses. Orthopaedic nurses often obtain master’s degrees to earn more money and improve skills. Many orthopaedic nurses improve job opportunities by certifying with the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses. To become certified, they’re required to pass a test. Orthopaedic nurses who become certified demonstrate competency and the ability to handle complex assignments.
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