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Land Your First OR Nursing Job in 5 Easy Steps


Land Your First OR Nursing Job in 5 Easy Steps

August 6, 2018     

With the wave of retiring baby boomers, the job outlook for registered nurses is much higher than average. So are RN salaries. In fact, surgical nursing salaries start just under $70,000 for staff nurses and can increase to well over $100,000 for OR nurses working in advanced clinical and administrative positions.

Surgical nursing offers RNs an exciting environment with room to grow. Do you have a penchant for high-tech instruments and a rapidly changing environment? Do you enjoy working with a team? With your critical thinking skills, clinical expertise and focus on patient advocacy, you are in high demand in hospital surgical departments and outpatient surgery centers.

Ready to land your first OR nursing job? Here are five steps you can take to launch your career behind the double doors.

Step 1: Make Sure You Have the Nursing Education Needed

To work in the OR in a preoperative, intraoperative or postoperative nursing role, you must have a degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Your nursing education should include supervised clinical experience in surgical nursing, critical care or emergency room care to show you know what it takes to work in a fast-paced, high-stakes care environment.

Many hospitals offer perioperative internship programs to gain this practice experience. These can include AORN’s Periop 101 curriculum—a widely recognized program that offers RNs exposure to the latest surgical nursing standards of care.

Step 2: Stay Current With the Latest Evidence

Reading nursing journals such as the AORN Journal can help you get a feel for what’s happening in the industry. Evidence-based care is an important focus in surgical nursing, so being able to speak confidently about the best nursing practices for positioning a surgical patient or preventing a retained surgical item will take you far in a job interview.

Step 3: Seek Out Mentors

Connecting with experienced surgical nurses can be a great way to understand the ins and outs of daily practice, find job leads, and begin planning your career path in OR nursing. Mentors can include nursing professors and practicing OR nurses you may have worked with during school. Joining AORN as a student member  is another way to tap into the surgical nurse community.

Step 4: Know What You Are Worth

Base compensation and other salary benefits can vary based on experience, role, and surgical setting. Calculate your earning potential  to understand the surgical nurse salary you will negotiate for.

Step 5: Network to Learn and Be Discovered

The Student Nursing Program at AORN’s annual conference, Global Surgical Conference & Expo, is free and can expose an interested nurse to the latest trends and evidence-based practices in perioperative nursing, as well as veteran nurses who can support your job search. It also includes a trip to the Expo floor where recruiters are anxiously waiting to meet OR nurse job candidates.

Get your job hunt game on with career coaching and job postings in AORN’s Career Center. You also can research future employers to learn what types of qualifications you’ll need to develop for success as a periop nurse.