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Perioperative (O.R.) Nurse

Since surgery is more advanced and complex than previously, nurses assigned to operating rooms have additional duties. These nurses are called perioperative nurses. They’re responsible for preparing patients for surgery, helping surgeons, and assisting patients recovering from surgery.

Perioperative nurses serve an important role in surgical units. They must make instant decisions and solve complicated problems. Perioperative nurses frequently meet with patients, their family members, doctors, and surgeons to talk about impeding surgeries and the recovery process. Perioperative nurses also assist doctors who evaluate patients for surgery.

Roles of A Perioperative Nurse

Perioperative nurses assist with surgery preparation and administration and patient recovery. Perioperative nurses can be assigned any of the following duties: patient assessment, patient education, instrument and room sterilization, patient monitoring after surgery, and recovery coordination with doctors, rehabilitative nurses, and other medical professionals.

Perioperative nurses can be assigned these roles:
  • Scrub nurse – help surgeons by preparing and sterilizing tools, providing surgeons with tools they need, and other simple tasks during surgery
  • Circulating nurse – supervise nursing care and make sure surgical rooms are safe and sterile
  • RN First Assistant – suture cuts, control and monitor bleeding, and perform other complex duties. RN first assistants are required to complete extra training
Perioperative nurses sometimes get promoted to operating room directors. These specialists are responsible for managing employees, overseeing budgets, and performing various business functions. Perioperative nurses often land jobs as medical equipment salespeople, researchers, consultants, and teachers after obtaining a certain amount of work experience.


Perioperative nurses often specialize in orthopedic, oral, cosmetic, general, urology, oncology, cardiac, and neurosurgery. There are many other types of surgery they can specialize in.

Practice Settings

Perioperative nurses work in numerous settings, such as:
  • Ambulatory surgery centers
  • Surgical units at hospitals
  • Physicians’ clinics
  • Other medical facilities

Registered nurses usually obtain a few years of experience before transitioning into perioperative nursing. Nurses working in critical care and emergency medicine are best prepared to enter perioperative nursing since they prepare to work in stressful settings where quick decisions must be made.

Perioperative nurses must be excellent communicators since they work closely with others in stressful and fast-paced settings. Perioperative nurses must handle stress effectively since they must remain calm during emergencies and frequently work with people suffering with pain. Perioperative nurses must also provide clear instructions, take responsibility for decisions, and work effectively in groups comprised of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.


You must earn a college degree, become a registered nurse, and obtain some work experience before applying for perioperative nursing education programs.

Salary Range

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, perioperative nurses earn a median annual salary of $41,400. Perioperative nurses with wages in the upper tenth percentile make between $50,000 - 89,000 each year.

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