How to Become a Plastic Surgery Nurse

Plastic surgery nurses assist surgeons in the operating room and during patient recovery.
Plastic surgery nurses assist surgeons in the operating room and during patient recovery. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition,” approximately 2.6 million health care jobs are occupied by registered nurses (RNs). These nursing professionals specialize in the treatment of various diseases and medical conditions, including plastic and reconstructive surgery. Plastic surgery nurses, also known as prerioperative nurses, assist surgeons in the operating room by suturing wounds, staunching bleeding and selecting surgical instruments. As more sophisticated surgical procedures are performed in outpatient facilities and doctors’ offices, demand for registered nurses in these health-care centers is expected to rise in the next few years.

Things You'll Need

  • Two-year or four-year degree in nursing
  • Registered nurse (RN) license

Obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an approved nursing program. Choose an accelerated bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN) or master’s degree in nursing (MSN) if you are switching to a nursing career and hold a degree in a separate field. Take courses that focus on nursing procedures for burns, liposuction, breast augmentation and other reconstructive and plastic surgeries.

Check your state's board of nursing eligibility requirements for nursing licensure. Submit an application and register for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Obtain an Authorization to Test (ATT) and schedule an exam appointment at a local test center (see Resources).

Receive licensure as a RN and work at least two years in plastic surgical nursing. Build practice hours in plastic surgical nursing and gain RN work experience in an administrative, general staff, research or teaching role.

Apply for certification through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). Send a completed application, money order or check, and copy of your RN license to the PSNCB Certification Program. Renew your certification after three years by submitting an application at least 45 days prior to expiration.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider future career opportunities when choosing whether to pursue a two-year or four-year degree. RNs with a BSN or higher receive more educational training and career advancement opportunities than RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing.
  • When applying for plastic surgical nursing certification, make sure your two years of work experience falls within the five-year period prior to the submission date of your application.

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