Surgical Nurse Job Description

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Table Of Contents

Learn about the essential requirements, obligations, responsibilities, and skills that are helpful in a surgical nurse’s job description. 

Surgical nurses, also known as operating room nurses, scrub nurses, or preoperative nurses, care for patients throughout a surgical operation. These nurses are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being in various settings, including hospitals and inpatient and outpatient surgical centers. 

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Surgical Nurse Job Description Template

Are you a nurse looking to gain more experience on the surgical floor? Do you have years of experience but need somewhere to put your skills to use? We’re looking for new or experienced surgical nurses to join our nursing staff. You’ll care for patients before, during, and after their surgery. This job can be fast-paced, so you need to be able to think quickly and respond to problems in a calm and collected manner. Our ideal candidate is familiar with patient-centered care, passionate about helping others, and pays attention to detail. 

Surgical Nurse Responsibilities

  • Prepare patients for surgery by conducting necessary pre-op assessments
  • Give patients instructions and health education about their surgery before the operation 
  • Work with the surgical team (anesthesiologists, surgeons, and doctors) to provide instruments and supplies 
  • Maintain a sterile surgical environment 
  • Monitor patient vital signs and anesthesia levels throughout surgery and report any changes
  • Manage a patient’s postoperative care by regularly assessing for complications and administering medications or other treatments per the treatment plan
  • Maintain an updated patient health record 
  • Educate patients and their families about the surgical procedure and aftercare

Surgical Nurse Requirements

  • An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing (ADN or BSN) 
  • Valid RN license (in the state you plan to practice in) 
  • Experience working with diverse populations and in a surgical environment 
  • Ability to be flexible and adaptable in emergency situations 
  • Knowledge of medical terminology and surgical procedures 

Download Job Description

Surgical Nurse Duties And Responsibilities

Prepare Patients For Surgery By Conducting Necessary Pre-Op Assessments

Surgical nurses work with patients to prepare them for surgery by conducting a pre-op assessment, gathering medical information, reviewing patient history, performing a basic physical exam, and ensuring that all the required procedures are followed prior to the surgery.

They also work with patients to ensure they’re informed about their upcoming surgery. Clinical knowledge and practical communication skills are necessary for this responsibility so you can help ease patient anxiety and accurately evaluate the patient’s health status. 

If you want to become a nurse, review our guide on how to become a nurse.

Maintain A Sterile Surgical Environment 

Surgical nurses must adhere to mandatory health and safety regulations during surgery. You’re responsible for ensuring that all equipment is sterilized, organized, and ready for the surgery. Be sure to have up-to-date training on infection control and blood-borne pathogens; most healthcare employers require them during employee onboarding. 

Work With The Surgical Team To Provide Instruments And Supplies 

As a surgical nurse, you’ll work alongside the surgical team made up of anesthesiologists, surgeons, and other nurses or doctors to ensure they have the necessary equipment for the procedure. You may also need to anticipate the surgeon’s needs during surgery and respond to quick requests. The ability to work well on a team and flexibility are two useful skills for this job duty.  

Manage Patient’s Postoperative Care

After surgery, surgical nurses are responsible for the postoperative care of their patients. This includes regularly assessing the patient’s condition, monitoring vital signs, and evaluating for any complications. You’ll administer medications and treatments per the treatment plan and document everything you do.

Your clinical knowledge will help you navigate these situations. Critical thinking skills and experience administering medications safely and accurately are also helpful in these situations. 

Monitor Patient’s Vital Signs

From the waiting room to the operating table to the recovery room, surgical nurses monitor a patient’s vital signs, such as the heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. There may also be monitoring techniques for the surgery you must keep track of.

You’ll also closely observe the patient’s response to anesthesia, notifying the anesthesiologist if you notice any changes or have concerns about the patient’s condition. During this time, a patient’s safety requires attention to detail, vigilance, and attentiveness. 

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Surgical Nurse Salary And Job Outlook

Median National Salary: $120,699 per year

Education Required: An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing (ADN or BSN) 

Number of Jobs: 6%

Job Growth 2020 – 2030: 203,300 new jobs per year

The Bottom Line

Surgical nursing is a wonderful opportunity for those who are interested in the operating room, but still value bedside patient care. With strong attention to detail and the ability to work in a fast-paced and quickly-changing environment, this might be a great career for you.

If you’re ready to begin looking for jobs, check our list of the best free job posting sites to help start your search. If you want to add a surgical nurse to your team, post your job description on ZipRecruiter!