Take These Steps to Become an Orthopedic Nurse

  • An orthopedic nurse specializes in caring for patients who have musculoskeletal disorders and providing appropriate treatment.  
  • Most organizations prefer experienced nurses to work in the orthopedic department. To gain experience, you can join voluntarily in the emergency or operating room. 
  • Patience, empathy, and active listening skills are essential to thrive as an orthopedic nurse.  

Mariya Rizwan

Pharm D

June 25, 2024
Simmons University

Orthopedic nurses specialize in caring for patients with musculoskeletal disorders and giving them appropriate treatment. Musculoskeletal disorders can include diseases of the muscles, bones, cartilage, joints, and supportive tissues. Musculoskeletal problems include inherited disorders, genetic deformities, and other diseases and injuries. However, the most common cases orthopedic nurses treat are arthritis, sprains, fractures, muscular dystrophy, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and temporomandibular joint disorder. 

Orthopedic nurses are also trained in traction and casting. They often educate the patients regarding their disease and its course.

This article will discuss how to become an orthopedic nurse, the traits and skills required, where orthopedic nurses work, their responsibilities, and the benefits of the job. 

Orthopedic nurse

How to Become an Orthopedic Nurse

The candidate should have the right degree and experience to become an orthopedic nurse. Most organizations prefer that experienced nurses work in the orthopedic department. However, do not let that deter you. To gain experience, you can join voluntarily in the emergency room or operation theater or tell the interviewers that you wish to become an orthopedic nurse and need the relevant experience. 

In order to obtain certification as an orthopedic nurse, you must have worked in an orthopedic setting for at least 1,000 hours. After these required hours are met, you’re able to take the certification exam. 

After gaining the relevant experience, you can obtain an orthopedic nursing certification through the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB). Though not required, it will verify your orthopedic nursing experience and showcase your abilities in the specialty.

To keep the certification valid, keep your CE hours updated. 

Traits and Skills Required to Become an Orthopedic Nurse  

Working as an orthopedic nurse can be challenging because you treat people who are in severe pain. The following skills and traits would be beneficial in the orthopedic field: 

  • Patience and empathy. 
  • Active listening skills and good memory, as some patients will visit an orthopedic specialist until they recover fully. 
  • Calm demeanor. 
  • Resilience. 
  • Flexibility and adaptability. 
  • Critical thinking. 
  • Sound knowledge of anatomy and how the human body functions. 
  • Information about fractures, castings, splints, mobility devices, and pain management. 
  • Knowledge of surgical procedures. 
  • Ability to manage and educate the patient about their condition. 
  • Good communication skills. 

Orthopedic nurses work in various fast-paced environments, from operation centers to intensive care units. Primarily, the orthopedic nurses work in:  

  • Long-term care centers  
  • Home healthcare agencies  
  • Emergency rooms  
  • Trauma units  
  • Nursing homes
  • Sports medicine practices  
  • Rehabilitation facilities  
  • Pediatric, oncology, surgical, and orthopedic units  
  • Outpatient surgical practices and care clinics  
  • Ambulatory infusion centers

Orthopedic nurse  

Job Responsibilities of an Orthopedic Nurse

The job responsibilities of an orthopedic nurse may vary according to the population for whom they work. However, their general responsibilities are:  

  • Take charge of the shift from the previous shift. 
  • Check the patient’s vital signs. 
  • Perform a head-to-toe patient assessment and report any abnormalities to the physician. 
  • Administer medicines and give meals to the patients on time.  
  • Complete checklists to prepare patients for the operating room, administer intravenous infusions, and administer post-surgery medications. 
  • Prepare the patient for physiotherapy. 
  • Check the wound for any signs of infection and change the wound dressing. 
  • Check patient pressure areas, pin sites, skin traction, and complete specialist jobs. 
  • Update all paperwork and make it ready for the next shift to take charge. 

Working as an orthopedic nurse is satisfying, especially if you are passionate about dealing with new and unique cases daily. Benefits of becoming an orthopedic nurse include: 

  • Work-life balance. 
  • Work in various Settings. 
  • Various specialties. You can specialize in orthopedics, trauma, podiatry, sports medicine, joint replacement, or bone health. 

Orthopedic nurse

The Bottom Line

Orthopedic nursing is an exciting job that involves a variety of patients. It is challenging and rigorous, but if you have a passion for caring for patients recovering day after day, it can be a good fit for you.

The career outlook for orthopedic nurses is bright. They are in demand now and will remain so in the future. If you want to become an orthopedic nurse, first become an RN, gain relevant experience, and receive certification. 

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