What It Takes To Become An Operating Room Travel Nurse
What is an Operating Room Travel Nurse
A travel nurse is a Registered Nurse who works in a specific location for a defined amount of time. An Operating Room travel nurse is a travel nurse who works specifically in the specialty area of OR (Perioperative).
An operating room travel nurse performs the same duties of a traditional OR nurse, including being responsible for patient care in all phases of a procedure: the perioperative, intraoperative and postoperative stages. Today these surgical nurses are more commonly referred to as perioperative nurses, reflecting their broader duties before and after surgery.
What does an Operating Room Nurse Do?
The role of the operating room nurse (perioperative nurse) is to provide care to patients before (pre-op nursing), after (post op nursing) or during surgery. Additional job duties for the OR nurse include patient education and provide care in the recovery room (PACU – Post Ansethesia Care Unit).
Many Operating Nurses specialize is sub-specialty areas. The Circulating Room OR nurse does not scrub in and performs OR job duties that cannot be done by OR staff who are scrubbed in and must remain sterile. The Scrub OR RN is an expert in Operative nursing that assists the surgeon during surgery and maintains a sterile field. The Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) functions as the a first assistant during surgical operations.
Other areas of surgical nurse specialization include: CVOR Nurse (Cardiovascular OR nursing), neurosurgery, oncology, trauma, general surgery, transplant surgery, reconstructive surgery, pediatric surgery (peds OR), general surgery, urology surgery, and ear/nose/throat surgery.
Settings for Operating Room Nursing
Operating Room nurses (perioperative nurses) work in a variety of settings. The most common setting for surgical nurses to work is in hospital surgical departments (inpatient surgery and out patient surgery). Additional settings a surgery nurse may work include surgery centers, various types of clinics and Dr’s offices.
Reasons to Become an Operating Room Travel Nurse
Being an operating room travel nurse brings a wealth of benefits. In addition to enjoying a rewarding career with a higher salary, the variety of settings allows for more advancement opportunities. Free or subsidized housing, free travel and other benefits, such as insurance, direct deposit and having licensing fees and immunizations covered, may be included too.
Salary for Operating Room Travel Nurses
The average salary for an operating room nurse varies depending on experience, training and location, but currently averages $75,472 per year. Travel operating room nurses can make significantly more, especially those who are willing to take travel assignments where there is a limited pool of talent or a nursing shortage exists. Because they aren’t tethered to a permanent job, they have more flexibility to move around, seeking better offers while getting to travel throughout the country.
How To Become a Labor and Delivery Travel Nurse
- Become a Licensed Registered Nurse
An Operating Room travel nurse must first become a licensed Registered Nurse. To become a licensed RN you must graduate from a two year (Associate’s degree) or four year (bachelor’s degree) nursing program approved by your state Board of Nursing. Then the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) must be taken and passed.
- Gain Experience As a Registered Nurse
Once the NCLEX-RN has been passed, you may begin working as a Registered Nurse. It is ideal for the nurse to acquire one year of experience in bedside nursing before transitioning into a perioperative nursing role. Travel OR nurses are required to have a minimum of one year of experience in a perioperative setting and many travel positions require two years of experience.
- Obtain Credentials and Certifications
Operating Room nurses are required to maintain certification in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). The Association for Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) has a variety of certifications available for different roles within the OR:
CNOR for Perioperative RNs
CRNFA for assisting surgeons as a First Assistant
CSSM for Nurse Managers with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing
CNS-CP for Clinical Nurse Specialists with a Master’s degree in nursing
- Compare Travel Nursing Companies
Once the required licenses, certifications and relevant experience are obtained, a nurse is eligible to become a travel OR nurse. There are hundreds of travel nursing companies with OR positions. A nurse should speak with several companies and compare what each company offers. Factors to consider when comparing travel nurse companies are: housing (agency based vs. stipend), benefits (medical, dental, 401k, completion bonus), salary (hourly wage, allowances, overtime), guaranteed hours policy, and travel nursing destinations (availability of jobs in the geographic location the nurse wants to work).
- Choose a Travel Nursing Company & Accept A Position
After comparing travel nursing companies and what each has to offer, the nurse will decide on a position and will be offered a contract. The travel nursing contract must be read carefully and fully understood. The nurse must ensure all questions are answered before signing the contract and accepting the position.