More than 2.7 million people work as registered nurses in the United States. Many of those eventually decide to move into a nursing specialty, working in an area they feel passionate about.
One of those specialty areas is orthopedic nursing. It’s a career that allows people to work closely with patients, helping them to recover from musculoskeletal diseases and disorders. These include such common conditions as arthritis, fractured and broken bones, joint replacements, malformations and osteoporosis.
They also can assist doctors when surgery is required.
Orthopedic nurses can work in a variety of areas, from pediatrics to sports medicine. Getting into the profession requires specialized education, skills and knowledge.
What Does An Orthopedic Nurse Do?
The job duties for an orthopedic nurse can vary greatly depending on the type of healthcare facility they work in and their specialty.
Some of the job duties include:
- Working closely with patients and learning their health history
- Educating patients on their condition and the specifics of their treatment
- Helping them manage pain and the process to recover from a musculoskeletal disease or disorder
- Assisting doctors in surgery when a bone break or other condition requires the patient to undergo surgery, and working with patients during recovery from surgery
- Working with both patients and their families to help them understand specifics of their condition, symptoms that indicate an issue that needs to be dealt with and the details of treatment and recovery
It’s an area where nurses work closely with patients. It’s also an area in demand, especially as the country’s average age gets older and more Baby Boomers move into their senior years.
Job Growth and Pay
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the most respected source for information about jobs in the U.S. However, they do not specifically track numbers in the orthopedic nurse profession.
For RNs as a whole, the BLS projects 16% job growth in the coming years. That’s much faster than the 7% growth average projected for all careers.
Salary for nurses depends greatly on where they work and the type of healthcare operation they work in. For all nurses nationwide, the median pay in May 2016 was $68,450. The top 10% in the profession earned almost $103,000.
As a specialty within nursing, orthopedic nursing positions tend to pay higher. However, attaining these positions also requires a higher level of education and certification.
Because salary potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on factors such as a candidate’s education and experience, as well as regional market conditions, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research.
How To Become An Orthopedic Nurse
The first step on the path to becoming an orthopedic nurse is to become a RN. This requires earning a four-year degree in nursing. Also, to earn the RN designation, nurses must become certified for the position.
To move into orthopedic nursing, a RN must go through a certification course. They then must earn certification as an orthopedic nurse from the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board.
Areas in which nurses are tested to earn certification include degenerative disorders, orthopedic trauma, sports injuries, metabolic bone disorders, inflammatory disorders and pediatric conditions.
Orthopedic nurses can also seek designation as an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner. This requires earning a master’s degree, working 1,500 hours in the field and passing an exam to earn the designation of Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner.
Working in orthopedics allows nurses to work with a variety of different patients. It’s a challenging career requiring specialized education and skills, but a rewarding one for those with a passion for the profession.