What Is A Orthopedic Nurse
An orthopedic nurse is a registered nurse trained to assist patients with musculoskeletal issues. Youll care for patients with broken or fractured bones, joint replacements, and osteoporosis.
Americans fracture bones at a rate of 2.4 per 100 people every year. Thats a lot of broken bones! More men break bones than women, but you can choose to work with one age group or with patients across the age spectrum.
Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Certification
While certification is not required for this nursing specialty, it can lead to higher salaries and better career opportunities. In an increasingly competitive job market, certification can demonstrate your expertise and set you apart from other candidates.
The Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board provides this Orthopedic Nursing certification, which is called the Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner . One of the many benefits of this certification includes the ability to work anywhere, from acute care and emergency rooms to primary and home healthcare settings.
To earn the ONP-C certification, you must pass a 150-question exam. Before you can take the exam, however, you must hold the following credentials:
Below are the current fees for the Orthopedic Nurses exam:
- $345 NAON/AANP/NOVA members
- $460 non-members
Note: There is a group discount for this exam. Five or more nurses testing from a facility will receive 15% off the exam fee when prepaid by the facility.
To learn more about the exam, fees, registration, and study resources, be sure to visit the ONCB website here.
Why Should I Be An Orthopedic Nurse
Working in orthopedics is a rewarding career that lets you make a visible difference in your patientsâ lives. Living with chronic pain or disabilities can present a wide range of challenges that you help them overcome.
You can help people suffering from trauma or those who have been living in pain for a long time. Your care and compassion help make their lives easier, and you can be a part of their support system as they heal and recover.
For patients with progressive diseases or chronic conditions, orthopedic nurses offer ongoing care that makes their symptoms more manageable and less painful.
Where Do Orthopaedic Nurses Work
Typically, orthopaedic nurses work in hospitals, clinics, or private practices. However, the versatility of this nursing specialty means that there are additional settings where orthopaedic nurses are needed, including home health agencies, assisted living centers, and outpatient care facilities like rehabilitation centers. Orthopaedic nurses are also used in sports medicine and physical therapy.
Earn The Orthopedic Nurse Certified Credential
You can earn your ONC through the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board . This credential showcases your commitment to working in orthopedics and your extensive clinical experience caring for orthopedic patients.
Have a valid, unrestricted RN license
Have two full yearsâ experience practicing as an RN
Have at least 1,000 hours of direct orthopedic patient care in the last three years
The ONC welcomes applicants with a broad range of experiences in orthopedics, including administrative work, home health care, emergency room nursing, long-term care, home health care, operating room nursing, and pediatrics, to name a few.
If youâve been developing your sub-specialty in orthopedics, you can rest assured that your clinical experience in a certain area will likely count toward your ONC credential.
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Salary & Career Outlook
According to Scrubs Magazine, orthopedic nurses are some of the highest paid nursing professionals in the medical field. The magazine said orthopedic nurses are the No. 6 highest paid nursing professionals, making on average about $81,000 per year. Orthopedic nursing salaries will vary based on geographic location, practice size, experience, and other factors.
No breakdown on job growth is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for orthopedic nurses, but the bureau does say that positions for all registered nurses is expected to grow by 23 percent over the next decade. Its safe to say that orthopedic nurses, a specialty occupation among registered nurses, will also enjoy strong growth.
Orthopedic nursing is an area of nursing that offers considerable career advancement opportunities. Orthopedic nurses can be found in the following roles in clinics and hospitals:
Duties Responsibilities Schooling Requirements Certifications Job Outlook And Salary
Whether its due to a sports injury, a workplace accident, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, most people will experience an orthopedic injury at some point in their lives. Before the days of modern medicine, even minor orthopedic injuries could cause lifelong consequences. However, thanks to highly-trained specialists like orthopedic nurse practitioners, most people nowadays can make full recoverieseven from the most severe injuries.
If youre excited by the idea of helping people recover from injuries so they can return to work, sports, or daily activities, becoming an orthopedic nurse practitioner should be one of the top nursing specialties on your list. Not only will you be a force for good at a challenging time in peoples lives, its also a great way to make a living. In fact, we recently featured orthopedic nurse practitioners on our list of the highest-paid nursing jobs in 2021.
This career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming an orthopedic nurse practitioner, including the educational requirements, certifications, day-to-day duties, and how long it generally takes to launch your new career.
Not sure if becoming an orthopedic nurse practitioner is the right nursing specialty for you? Click here to see our full list of the highest-paying nursing jobs.
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Earn Your Master Of Science In Nursing Degree
To become eligible for Orthopedic Nursing Certification from the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board , youll have to earn a post-graduate degree from an accredited program. Most Masters in Nursing programs take about 18 to 24 months to complete. However, by earning your MSN, you set yourself up for higher earning potential and a greater job outlook for the rest of your nursing career.
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Earn Your Bachelor Of Science In Nursing Degree
The first step to becoming an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner is earning your BSN degree. A BSN program will take three to four years to complete if you have no prior nursing education or experience.
If you already have an Associate Degree in Nursing , you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. These bridge programs are convenient and can be completed in as little as 20 months.
Accelerated nursing programs are also available to Licensed Vocational Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses who already have their associate degree in vocational nursing . These LVN-to-BSN pathways allow you to skip the first three semesters of the bachelors degree program.
Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Skills
To thrive as an orthopedic nurse practitioner, youll need excellent analytical skills and attention to detail, as diagnosing orthopedic injuries often requires problem-solving for issues that may not be immediately apparent to the naked eye. Interpersonal skills are also a major plus, as youll be spending plenty of time working with patients who are in discomfort and who will want to have their concerns validated and their symptoms taken seriously. Becoming an orthopedic nurse practitioner also requires a certain amount of stamina and dexterity, as youll sometimes need to physically maneuver patients to conduct accurate assessments. Finally, the ability to take charge and keep cool under pressure is a must, as patients suffering from acute injuries may be in shock or in pain, and will greatly benefit from a calming presence.
Obtain Your State License
Apply for your state nursing license through the state where you wish to practice once you have graduated from a nursing program that has been approved or accredited by that state. You must pass the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses in order to obtain your states license. For additional requirements, speak to your nursing board as they differ by state. Keep in mind that you must continue to hold your professional license. To do so, you may need to undergo continuing education.
Orthopedic Nurse Work Settings
Orthopedic nurses may work in a range of settings, including hospitals, outpatient centers, and rehabilitation centers. Some work in orthopedic specialty hospitals. Orthopedic facilities can be very specialized, particularly in urban areas. Case in point: the UW Medical Center, a major research hospital located in Seattle . Among the centers and clinics are the Orthopedic Trauma Surgery Clinic at Harborview, the Orthopedic Oncology Center at UW Medical Center Roosevelt, and the Hip & Knee Center at Eastside Specialty Center.
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How Long Does It Take To Become An Orthopedic Nurse
It takes about 6 to 9 combined years of study and work experience to become an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner.
The time it takes to earn a masters degree from an accredited program depends on your starting point. For example:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing program may take about three to four years to complete
- If you already have an Associates Degree in Nursing , you can complete an RN-to-BSN program in about two years
- The MSN degree would likely require an additional two years of study
OPN candidates must also earn their RN license and work a few years as either an RN or APRN before applying for ONCB certification.
Earn An Adn Or Bsn Nursing Degree
Every orthopedic nurse has first to become a registered nurse. All RNs need a broader education because specialties only build upon what nurses already need to know. With an RN, youâll be qualified to tend to patients of all ages in settings ranging from major hospitals to home care.
You can earn an associateâs degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing . The choice is yours both make you eligible to specialize in orthopedics later. The main difference between an ADN vs. BSN is the length of the program.
An associateâs degree is a 2-year degree that introduces nursing students to the core concepts and competencies of their field a BSN lasts 4-years and expands upon the foundations of the ADN program with advanced nursing coursework.
Both ADNs and BSNs are valuable degrees, but you might find that you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for promotions or even earn certain certifications later. For this reason, many nursing students today opt for the BSN program.
Another benefit of the BSN is two additional years of clinical experience. Most nursing students start clinical rounds in the second semester of their first year. Throughout a bachelorâs degree, theyâll treat dozens of patients and graduate with the confidence and comfort they need to work independently as an RN.
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Where Do Orthopedic Nurses Work
Where you work as an orthopedic nurse depends on your specific interests and goals for your nursing career. You have choices, including:
- Hospital orthopedic units. Patients who have undergone orthopedic surgery need time to heal before going home. Its your job to provide bedside care and work with the physical therapy team to get your patients healthy enough for discharge.
- Orthopedic outpatient clinics. Youll treat a variety of patients in this setting, including those who are recovering from a recent injury or orthopedic surgery. Youll need to educate your patients on the best way to recover and prevent future injuries.
- Orthopedic surgery centers. Nurses are needed at orthopedic surgery centers to assist with the surgeries, as well as patient recovery. In this role, you can work in preoperative, perioperative, or postoperative surgery care.
- Orthopedic physician private practices. Orthopedic private practices need nurses to help with assessing patients. In this setting, you may see patients more than once, so you can build long-term relationships and help them improve their quality of life.
How Long Does It Take To Become An Orthopedic Np
Orthopedic Nurse Practitioners require advanced training in all aspects of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic nurse practitioners work closely with physicians and nursing staff to coordinate patients care from the time of injury to discharge.
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Orthopedic Nurse Roles And Duties
The work can including assessing patients, formulating treatment plans, administering medication, and providing patient education. Orthopedic nurses frequently need to position patients for procedures.
Orthopedic patients are often in a good deal of pain orthopedic nurses may help patients manage their pain through both pharmacological and nonpharmacological processes. Many orthopedic nurses provide perioperative care. They may specialize even further . Post-op orthopedic nurses might provide multi-faceted interventions for patients who had had hip or knee surgery. They can help them reduce swelling, heal physically, and regain mobility. They can assist in managing anxiety and confusion as well as physical pain. Assessment is crucial they assess everything from the status of the incision area to activity tolerance and even appetite.
Some orthopedic nurses are involved in case management. Some provide preventative care.
Orthopedic nurses typically work closely with orthopedic doctors. They may delegate basic duties to unlicensed healthcare workers.
Orthopedic nursing generally requires a registered nursing degree. The Bachelor of Science is preferred in many settings. There are some positions for LPNs in orthopedic settings. However, they do not have the same scope of practice.
S To Becoming An Orthopedic Nurse
Orthopedics is a dynamic and diverse medical field. You have options to specialize your practice even further in areas like pediatrics, gerontology, or operative nursing. Orthopedic nurses who work in private practices or rehabs can work one-on-one with patients daily, giving them assistance, therapeutic services, and care they need to improve their function and live their lives.
Hereâs our 5-step orthopedic nurse career path to help you build your future dream job.
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What Degree Do You Need To Become An Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner
Becoming an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner involves extensive education and training. At a minimum, you must earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree to become one.
While a masters degree may seem strenuous, the hard work does pay off in the end. Orthopedic Nurse Practitioners rank among the highest paying nursing jobs in the US.
Here are the steps required to become an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner:
Gain Experience As A Licensed Registered Nurse
Once youve passed the NCLEX, youll be eligible to receive a nursing license from the state in which you intend to practice. The NCLEX is nationally recognized, which means you can choose between staying close to home or making a fresh start somewhere new! For a future career as an orthopedic nurse practitioner, youll want to gain as much experience as possible working with orthopedic patients. That will likely mean seeking out RN experience at specialty orthopedic clinics, or within hospital orthopedic departments. The more relevant experience you have, the more likely you are to impress potential employers when it comes time to start your career as an orthopedic nurse practitioner.
Nursing license renewal requirements vary by state, but youll generally need to renew your license every two to three years. As long as youve been actively working as a registered nurse or participating in continuing education programs , you shouldnt have much trouble keeping your RN license current.
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Do You Have A Future In Orthopedic Nursing
Orthopedic nursing is unique in the intense pain patients face but also the dramatic recovery that ortho nurses get to witness and the healing they play a big role in. If youre up for those extremes, orthopedic nursing might be right for you.
If youre ready to start down your path of becoming a registered nurse, begin with our article How to Become a Registered Nurse: Your 4-Step Guide.
Though you certainly dont have to choose a specialty before becoming an RN , if youre intrigued by the variety of specialties RNs can work in and want to discover more, check out our article Top 25 Types of Nurses Employers Are Looking to Hire.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.