Operating Room Nurse Training

Nursing students often decide they want to take their nursing degree and go in a specific direction such as working in the operating room. This field of nursing can be a very lucrative one; however, it is also highly stressful and challenging. If you want to pursue working in surgery, you will need to get operating room nurse training in addition to your typical nursing degree.

The information herein should help you accomplish that and get ready to scrub for surgery.

Educational Requirements

The obvious first step to working in the operating room is to have your nursing degree. You will need to have a Bachelor of Science so that you can continue with your nursing education. If you only received a diploma in nursing or an Associate Degree you will have to complete the requirements for a BA before moving forward.

Although there are nurses who work in operating rooms that do not have a certificate or advanced education, it is becoming more and more common for hospitals to require advanced training. Operating room nurses, also known as perioperative nurses, can take courses that prepare them for working with surgeons. These courses include such classes as:

  • Disinfectant and sterilization
  • Operating room safety
  • Surgical tools
  • Communication skills
  • Anesthesia assessment
  • Skin preparation
  • Introduction to perioperative nursing
  • Perioperative assessment
  • Surgical environment
  • Aseptic techniques
  • Operating room safety
  • Scrubbing in
  • Needles and sutures

Students in perioperative training also receive guidance and lectures pertaining to specialty surgeries and a complete overview of surgical procedures. Once the coursework has been completed nurses can take the certification exam.


Nurses who have worked as perioperative nurses for at least two years and can show at least 2400 hours of experience are eligible to sit for the CNOR (certified nurse of the operating room). This certification is not a requirement for working in a surgery suite but is becoming the norm and expected by many surgeons.

Certification allows nurses to fill any of the nursing positions in the operating room, such as:

  • Operating room nurse
  • Scrub nurse
  • Circulator nurse
  • Operating room director

Perioperative Duties

Working in the surgical unit alongside doctors and surgeons will expose you to many different tasks and procedures. Some will be interesting and others will simply be tasks required to get the procedure completed. As a perioperative nurse, you will be responsible for all of the activities in the operating room, including planning, coordinating, and directing the activities and daily schedule. An operating room nurse’s duties typically fall into three different categories, pre-operative duties, operative duties, and post-op duties.

  • Pre-Op Tasks: During training for pre-op, nurses learn how to set up the surgical suite, prepare instruments, and communicate with the family, and more.
  • Operative Tasks: During the surgery, the nurse prepares the patient for surgery, ensures the medications have been prepared, verifies tools and instruments are ready, and assists the surgeon as needed.
  • Post-Op Tasks: Monitors the patient after surgery, communicates patient status to family.

Operating room nurses do much more than simply work in surgery. As a perioperative nurse, your training prepares you for working as a scrub nurse, an RN assistant, and as a circulating nurse. Many perioperative nurses go on to become nurse managers, educators, and more.

 Finding Training Courses

If you have decided that the operating room is where you would like to put your nursing skills to work then you need to locate a training program. There are several options available, including learning on the job and taking a course at the same time in order to have the hours and coursework required to take the exam.

Many community colleges and local universities offer perioperative training classes as do some hospitals and medical facilities. You can also find online training cures that will help you become familiar with the instruments, procedures, and protocols that are used in surgery.

Ultimately, choosing to add operating room nurse training to your education will expand your career options and give you much more flexibility in what part of the medical field you choose to work in. You can advance into a higher position and provide a valuable service to doctors and patients.