Job Requirements: Prepare and maintain all instruments required for the surgical team during surgery.
Education Requirements: Registered Nurse who has passed the National Council Licensure Examination.
Work Locations: Hospitals, Private operating rooms
Salary: $65,000 – $95,000
The Scrub Nurse is a specialty field within preoperative nursing. The scrub nurse assists the surgeon and maintains all materials within the sterile field that surrounds the patient during surgery. He or she is familiar with the procedure being performed and the instruments that the surgeon will require.
In a given work day, a scrub nurse will assist in a number of surgeries and for each one, the process is the same. By maintaining a process, the sterilization and location of instruments will be the same no matter who is working on that day. This eliminates errors in the OR.
To begin, the nurse will go to the scrub sink and scrub his or her arms from two inches above the elbow down to the fingertips. Then the nurse enters the operating room and puts on a sterile gown, gloves and facemask before preparing the sterile field.
The nurse will prepare and set up all instruments needed for the operation. A complete count of instruments will be documented prior to the surgery, again during the surgery and then once more once it is complete to make sure nothing has retained in the patient.
Scrub nurses with years of experience who have become familiar with a wide range of procedures are sought-after members of the surgical team, providing expert support in the operating room making the surgery go smoothly. Nurses at this level can anticipate what the doctor will need to keep the procedure moving forward.
The path to becoming a scrub nurse starts with going to school and becoming an RN. Many students choose to get an Associates degree in nursing, and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination to become an RN. He or she will then gain experience as an RN on the surgical floor (known as surgical nursing) and learn the technical skills, tools and terminology used for various surgeries in the OR. In this role, the nurse does not enter the operating room, but he or she does prep the patient for surgery, provides lab work and health history information to the surgical team and is positioned to care for the patient in the recovery room afterwards. A motivated surgical nurse interested in becoming a surgical nurse will put in extra effort to learn about the instruments used in their
patients’ procedures so that when the time comes, the transition will be focused more on process and less on memorizing instrument types.
An enticing aspect of this career choice is that hours are fairly stable. In a given work day, you’ll know the surgeries on the schedule and when they are done, the day is over. Most nurses however will have a day or two per week where they will be on call for emergencies. Another perk about working in the OR
is the opportunity to work with the latest healthcare technology available and knowing that your knowledge of the tools in the OR will have a direct impact on the patient’s outcome.