Job Description for a Perioperative Nurse


Perioperative nurses care for patients immediately before an operation, in the operating room (OR) itself, and right after surgery, in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), formerly called the recovery room. (Ref. 1.)


  • A pre-op nurse in the holding area prepares the patient to enter the OR suite. Once in the OR, the patient is cared for by a scrub nurse and a circulating nurse. A PACU nurse monitors the patient's recovery from anesthesia. (Ref. 2.)


  • The pre-op nurse evaluates the patient and gives drugs to help him relax. A scrub nurse assists the surgeon and focuses on the patient's status, while the circulating nurse serves as a liaison between the OR and the rest of the hospital. The PACU nurse monitors heart and lung function, administers pain medications, and watches for surgical complications. (Ref. 2.)


  • A perioperative nurse provides high-touch care in a high-tech environment. She quickly identifies potential problems and acts decisively.


  • Perioperative nurses are employed by hospitals, freestanding surgery centers, and physicians' offices. They serve as an important part of the surgical team, along with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and surgical technicians. (Ref. 1.)


  • According to the 2007 salary survey conducted by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, perioperative nurses earn an average of $60,400 per year. (Ref. 3.)

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Jurek Durczak
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