How to Become an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner

Orthopedic nurse practitioners are vital members of the orthopedics team.
Orthopedic nurse practitioners are vital members of the orthopedics team. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Orthopedic nurse practitioners work closely with orthopedic physicians and surgeons, treating and caring individuals suffering from problems of the musculoskeletal system. Their patients battle everything from arthritis and bone fractures to osteoporosis and bone marrow disorders. Orthopedic nurse practitioners must first complete the requirements to become registered nurses. After a few years of experience working in orthopedics, they can qualify for certification.


Prepare for the career during high school. Take accelerated in classes in biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics and mathematics to form a solid educational base for a career in medicine. Volunteer at your local hospital, community medical clinic or blood drive to gain experience working with patients in a healthcare setting.

Choose a college or university that offers a nursing program and apply for admission. Consider factors like living costs, tuition fees, location, professor-to-student ratio, matriculation rates and reputation when making this important decision.

Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, a four year degree that prepares students for professional nursing careers. Complete the course requirements, such as human anatomy, medical terminology and microbiology. Complete the supervised clinical experience requirements.

Obtain a registered nurse (RN) license. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), a written test offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Submit your application along with academic transcripts and other required documents.

Gain two years of on-the-job experience working as a general RN. Find a nursing job at a medical clinic, hospital or other health care facility.

Complete the 1,000 hours of orthopedic-specific practice. Clinical experience may take place in an emergency room, in a doctor's office that deals with muscular and skeletal issues or even in a home health care setting with a patient afflicted by an orthopedic condition.

Become certified by the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB). Specialize in the area of your choice, whether it be orthopedic trauma, sports injuries or degenerative disease. Pass the required examination and provide proof of your experience and background. Contact the ONCB for more information.

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