Surgical nurses, also known as medical-surgical nurses, are trained professionals that provide care to patients with a variety of surgical and medical conditions. Top candidates in surgical nursing tend to have determination, strong judgment, patience, critical thinking skills and compassion. They must work well within a team and possess excellent communication skills. Surgical nurses must also work well under pressure with multiple patients at the same time.
Surgical nurses are registered nurses who care for patients in the time before, during or after an operation or surgical procedure. They work in the surgery departments of ambulatory care facilities or hospitals and tend to take on one of three job descriptions.
Scrub nurses are surgical nurses that work directly with surgeons during operations. Circulator nurses observe and manage operations from the background to create a successful surgical experience. RN first assistants aid doctors during surgery by regulating bleeding, handling human tissues, suturing wounds and cutting. RN first assistants are typically the most trained members of the operating room nursing staff.
Surgical nurses may complete either an associate degree, bachelor's degree or hospital-offered diploma program in nursing. They must then pass a licensing examination to become a registered nurse, which is called the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). After becoming licensed, a prospective surgical nurse should gain clinical and medical-surgical experience in a hospital. Lastly, the nurse can become certified as a surgical nurse by either the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB).
According to a report compiled by Salary Expert in 10 major U.S. cities, the top salary for a surgical nurse could be found in Boston, Massachusetts, while the lowest salary was found in Orlando, Florida, at $60,605. The average annual salary for these 10 cities, which also included Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; New York, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; and Phoenix, Arizona, was $74,284 as of January 2011. This compares favorably with the median annual wages of registered nurses, which was $62,450 in May 2008, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for registered nurses in general is positive as the profession is expected to grow 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. This is close to double the expected growth of all professions during the same projected decade. The projected growth rate is higher in physicians' offices at 48 percent than it is in hospitals at 17 percent. Nurses who have specializations, like surgical nursing, will be in high demand, especially in areas that are medically underserved like rural areas and inner cities.