Surgical Nurse Job Description

Surgical Nurse Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a surgical nurse. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a surgical nurse.


Who is a Surgical Nurse?

A surgical nurse, also known as a perioperative nurse, operating room nurse, or scrub nurse is a registered nurse who has received special training to help during operations. They work on everything from life-saving treatments to elective ones and provide care for patients before, during, and after surgeries. They must have their registered nurse license and have completed an accredited nursing program to work in hospitals, surgery centres, and clinics. The field of surgical nursing presents many opportunities for learning and career advancement. It is dynamic and demanding. Patients must be cared for before, during, and following surgical procedures by surgical nurses. They help the surgical team and give post-operative care to patients.

Their main duties are to care for the patient, support the operating room staff, and record observations and processes. A surgical nurse aids in the pre-and post-operative care of patients as well as during operations. A surgical nurse may be tasked with caring for patients who are in the preoperative, postoperative, and intensive care units daily. They serve as a link between the patient and the surgical team. By offering advice and support, a surgical nurse can aid in reducing a patient’s anxiety.

Surgical nurses assist the surgeon during surgery. They assist with equipment setup and sanitize surgical tools. After surgery, they inform doctors and other medical personnel about the patient’s recuperation in the recovery room. Additionally, they make sure that the demands of the patient are satisfied by collecting vital signs and monitoring anaesthetic levels. Surgical nurses also educate patients and their families before surgery on expected results and recovery in addition to their clinical responsibilities.

The surgical nurse is required during many various stages of surgery to support and help the patient, the surgeon, the surgical technician, the nurse anaesthetist, and the nurse practitioner. The nurse must assist in setting up the patient and operating room before the procedure. They offer assistance to the surgeons and anaesthetists as needed during the procedure. The final stage is post-operative, which involves ensuring that the patients receive the right care and therapies. Those who desire to work as surgical nurses go to nursing school and focus on this field. Before being permitted to work as nurses, they are frequently required to pass exams given by the government or by nursing certification boards. They may also be expected to attend recurring continuing education classes so they can stay up to date with developments in the nursing field. A fast-paced, fascinating vocation like surgical nursing gives you lots of chances to change the world every day. You may help surgical teams, participate in work that saves lives, enhance patient outcomes, and inform and encourage patients and their families. No matter the area of perioperative nursing you choose to specialize in, you can have a fulfilling career that provides chances for professional progress and financial rewards. There are several surgical nursing types and specialties, including:

Scrub Nurse: Before surgery, a scrub nurse checks the operating room to make sure it is sterile, clean, and ready for the patient. Additionally, she prepares the surgical equipment, counting all sponges, needles, and other tools both before and after the procedure. She assists the other members of the surgical team as they “scrub in,” wash their hands, and put on the sterile masks, gloves, and gowns they need to protect both the patient and themselves. She hands the surgeon tools and other instruments during the procedure and frequently has to guess when he will be ready for the next tool and what he will require. She helps to prepare the patient for transit to the recovery room after the procedure by removing the surgical instruments.

Circulating Nurse: The circulating nurse supervises the process and makes sure it adheres to hospital policy and safety regulations rather than taking part in it personally. She starts by checking that all of the surgical supplies are in good working order. She additionally validates the patient’s identity and that he or his family has signed the required consent documents. The surgery type and any unique issues, such as allergies or other medical conditions that could affect the patient’s treatment, are then discussed with the surgeon. She also helps the anesthesiologist put the patient to sleep. She gathers whatever extra supplies or equipment the crew requires throughout the operation.

RN First Assistant: First assistant RNs, who offer hands-on patient care, are frequently the group on which surgeons rely most largely. A patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate, pulse, and respiration, are monitored by the nurse as she keeps an eye out for any potential issues. If she notices any red flags, she promptly tells the surgeon so he can stop the procedure. She follows the surgeon’s instructions while providing emergency treatment, such as performing CPR and stopping bleeding. After the procedure, she applies dressings and bandages and stitches the wounds and the site of the incision. Before surgery and before discharge, she also takes part in the patient assessment. Before taking on a career as an RN first assistant, nurses must have years of surgical nursing experience.

Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse – RN-BC: A cardiac-vascular nurse is another term for a cardiac cath lab nurse. A surgical nurse of this kind helps doctors put a catheter into a heart chamber or artery. Heart problems can be identified or treated with this approach. You might help with coronary catheterization as well. Advanced cardiac care technologies are used in these treatments, which are carried out in highly specialized labs.

Nurse Anesthetist – CRNA: As the name suggests, a nurse anaesthetist provides patients with anaesthesia and care linked to anaesthesia before, during, and after the operation. During operations, a CRNA encounters a wide range of circumstances and unforeseen events. This explains why the entry requirements for this field are so high. One of the most sought-after and well-paid nursing specialties is a nurse anaesthetist.

Ophthalmic Nurse – CRNO: Ophthalmology is a branch of eye care that goes beyond optometry. A crucial part of surgical teams, ophthalmic nurses provide care for patients with severe eye problems.

Otorhinolaryngology Nurse – CORLN: Patients with head-related illnesses, diseases, or disorders are cared for by otorhinolaryngology nurses. The skin, neck, ears, nose, oral canals, and cranial nerves are among the affected areas.

Perianesthesia Nurse – CPAN and/or CAPA: Perianesthesia nurses, often known as recovery room nurses, closely watch over patients while they come to terms with the aftereffects of anaesthesia following surgery. Perianesthesia nurses are skilled in dealing with patients who awaken with unpleasant side effects including pain or bewilderment. Before and after surgery, they frequently consult with patients, giving them information regarding postoperative care at home.

Plastic Surgery Nurse – CPSN or CANS: Patients undergoing or recovering from plastic surgery operations are assisted by plastic surgery nurses. They perform everything from minor, elective surgeries to more involved ones like facial reconstruction.

Transplant Nurse – CCTN: Patients who donate and receive organs are cared for by transplant nurses. These nurses are experts in preparing living donors for transplant procedures and explaining any hazards associated with the gift. Patients receiving organ transplants from deceased people receive comparable services from them. During surgery and afterward, transplant nurses help the medical staff. Patients are closely watched for post-transplant issues such as organ rejection.

Depending on where you are in your nursing school or profession, how many credits you can transfer, and whether you opt for a full-time or part-time program, becoming a surgical nurse could take anywhere from 2 to 5 years. Detail-oriented, adaptable, cool under pressure, and able to effortlessly juggle various objectives are skills required by surgical nurses. In addition, it’s crucial to have solid technical expertise, the capacity to think critically in a hectic, demanding atmosphere, and first-rate communication abilities. Surgical nurses must function successfully in teams due to the dynamics within and outside of the operating room. Due to the frequent interactions, they have with worried or concerned family members, surgical nurses must also possess compassion and emotional fortitude. You need to be composed and quick-thinking, able to work well under pressure, and a good communicator to succeed as a surgical nurse. In the end, a top-notch surgical nurse should be knowledgeable of the most recent advancements in healthcare best practices.


Surgical Nurse Job Description

Below are the surgical nurse job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a surgical nurse job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

  • Give the patient promptly, competent perioperative nursing care.
  • Uphold requirements for competency in surgical services.
  • Carry out all medical orders, give patients their prescriptions, and perform treatments and testing promptly.
  • Help with patient care in the operating room, procedure room, and recovery area.
  • Create and put into action a nursing care plan for the allocated patient.
  • Utilize surgical equipment with utmost care to protect the safety of the operating team and the patient.
  • Keep your understanding of sterile procedures up to date and thorough.
  • Maintain constant communication with the surgical team and other medical personnel to address patient care needs.
  • Help with the procurement, storage, and upkeep of surgical materials and equipment.
  • Prepare the operation area with the necessary surgical supplies, sterile linens, and equipment.
  • Keep the operation room neat and orderly.
  • Prepare patients for surgery by washing and sanitizing exposed body parts.
  • Prepare charts for the patient’s history and recovery promptly and accurately.



  • Registered Nurse (RN) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and State approval.
  • Certification as a nurse in the operating room (CNOR).
  • Clinical knowledge.
  • Expertise in creating and carrying out perioperative nursing care programs.
  • Collaboration skills with medical professionals and surgical teams.
  • Ability to be responsive in times of crisis.
  • Must be amiable and compassionate.
  • Two or more years of experience working as a surgical nurse.
  • Proficiency with electronic patient management programs like Medical and e-MDs Chart.
  • Extensive knowledge of keeping an eye on a variety of medical issues.
  • Comprehensive understanding of surgical nursing best practices.
  • Outstanding organizational, analytical, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills.
  • Willingness to work shifts that alternate between days, nights, weekends, and public holidays.


Essential Skills

  • Communication Skills: To effectively communicate with doctors, patients, and other staff members, surgical nurses must possess great communication skills. There are moments when the operating room is tense. While others are outraged, nurses need to talk quietly and professionally. Patients could feel anxious. Surgical nurses are skilled in using communication to allay patients’ fears.
  • Medical Terminology Knowledge: The language used by medical experts to explain bodily functions, diseases, and treatments is known as medical terminology. To effectively communicate information to other medical staff members, surgical nurses must have a solid command of medical jargon. They are better able to understand patient data and treatment plans thanks to the aid of medical language, ensuring that their patients receive the care they need.
  • Surgical Procedures Knowledge:  A surgical nurse’s main responsibility is to assist with surgical procedures. They must understand surgical procedures and be able to carefully adhere to physicians’ instructions. In addition, surgical nurses must know how to get ready for a range of surgeries, including those that are urgent and for which they may not have much time to prepare.
  • Documentation Skills: Information regarding a patient’s therapy is recorded through the process of documentation. This could be noted in the patient’s recuperation or specifics regarding the treatment, including what tools were used and how long it took. To monitor patients’ health throughout time and guarantee that future medical personnel who treat them have access to their records, documentation is crucial.
  • Teamwork Skills: A surgical nurse must be able to collaborate with a group of medical experts. They frequently collaborate with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other operating room personnel. Additionally, surgical nurses need to be proficient communicators with patients and their families. This calls for teamwork abilities including the capacity to listen to others’ viewpoints and collaborate with others to solve challenges.
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Critical thinking is the capacity to assess a situation and come to decisions that support your objectives. Critical thinking abilities are used by surgical nurses to assess patients, devise treatment strategies, and assess their performance. For instance, if a patient has issues during surgery, an operating room nurse may need to use critical thinking to pinpoint the issue’s root cause and come up with solutions.
  • Emergency Response Skills: Surgical nurses should be skilled in emergency response since they may be the first to act in an emergency. When a patient suffers a medical emergency, or if a fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster occurs at the hospital where they work, they must be able to act swiftly and effectively.


How to Become a Surgical Nurse

Step 1.  Understand the role

You should thoroughly research the responsibilities of the position before applying to nursing school. It’s very emotionally and physically taxing work, even though there are many advantages for people who have the mental fortitude, bedside manner, and technical ability to take on this duty. Then again, there’s a strong chance you have what it takes if you fit the bill and are considering applying for this position. Some nurses choose to pursue more specialization so they may care for patients in particular departments, such as general surgery, trauma, paediatrics, oncology, plastic surgery, transplant surgery, cardiac surgery, and neurosurgery. The earlier you select your speciality, the more time you have to concentrate on improving your resume by gaining relevant experience during your clinical rotations.

Step 2. Obtain the necessary degree

Most surgical nurses begin their careers as registered nurses (RNs), which requires them to complete an ADN or BSN program and obtain licensure. However, if you already have some experience in the sector, there are several options you can explore. A bachelor’s degree offers a complete four-year education, making it the most regarded and sought-after qualification. In the last half of this post, we’ll go into more detail about the various nursing degrees.

Step 3: Obtain the RN licensure

After completing a recognized nursing program, you are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, which will certify your ability to practice. You can begin working as a licensed RN once you have passed the exam and satisfied the requirements of the state board of licensure.

Step 4. Acquire experience

To work as a surgical nurse, you often need to show that you have at least a year of work experience. You can accomplish this while enrolled in a master’s degree program, but you can also enrol in a vocational course of study in the hospital or surgical facility where you already work. The majority of surgical nurses learn on the job from their employers. The duration of this training could range from a few weeks to a few months, and it might involve practising skills, shadowing other nurses, and doing tasks under close supervision.

Step 5. Acquire certification

After gaining relevant experience in medical surgical nursing, you can pursue additional certification to set yourself apart from other candidates on the job market. Alternatively, surgical nurses can take the National Certification Examination for Nurse Anesthetists after completing the CNA program to earn a certain certification. Although this certification is optional, it may be advantageous when applying for jobs or promotions. There are three pertinent certifications: CNOR certification, Certified Nurse First Assistant certification and Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse certification.


Where to Work as a Surgical Nurse

Operating rooms, also known as surgical suites, are where surgical nurses perform their work. Also, they frequently work in hospital departments like the recovery sections, and medical-surgical care units (both inpatient and outpatient). They furthermore work at outpatient facilities, clinics, ambulatory surgery centres, day surgeries, and doctor’s offices. Generally speaking, the office is spotless, well-lit, and ventilated. However, due to the volume of individuals in the operating room and the technology being utilized, it can be noisy. In-depth collaboration between surgical nurses, anesthesiologists, and other surgical team members is common.


Surgical Nurse Salary Scale

The amount that surgical nurses are paid varies according to their degree of training and experience, the size of the hospital or medical centre where they work, and the location of their place of employment. The average surgical nurse earning in the US is $60,831 per year, or $32.14 per hour, according to Salary rises with experience, as it does in most nursing occupations.

A surgical nurse in Nigeria typically earns around 265,000 NGN per month. The typical salary range, which includes housing, transportation, and other amenities, is 133,000 to 411,000 NGN. Call Duty Allowance, Specialist Allowance, Shift Duty Allowance, Clinical Duty Allowance, Teaching Allowance, and Non-Clinical Duty Allowance are just a few of the rewards and allowances available to surgical nurses.

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