A scrub nurse, also known as a perioperative nurse, works in the operating room of hospitals with the surgical team. The job requires long hours, hard work, and a strong stomach. Scrub nurses are responsible for the care of the patient throughout the operation: before, during, and after. They monitor the patient's vital signs and provide assistance to the surgical team. To become a scrub nurse, you must first be a registered nurse, or RN.
An RN has completed at least an associate's degree in nursing, although many continue on to get their bachelor's degree. Nursing schools that offer RN programs are available in most major cities throughout the United States. Many of these programs offer courses in perioperative nursing, allowing students to learn about the roles and duties of nurses in the operating room. These courses are essential for students interested in becoming a scrub nurse.
While training to be an RN, take advantage of any internship programs through local hospitals that your school might offer. Internships are a great way to get experience as a scrub nurse. Many hospitals, however, require that nurses have general nursing experience before doing a rotation in the operating rooms. Once this basic requirement is out of the way, getting into a perioperative internship position can be one of the best ways to get the experience you will need later on to begin your career as a scrub nurse.
After receiving their degree, US students must take, and pass, the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NYCLEX-RN). This examination will test students on nursing skills, knowledge of the human body and health topics, as well as everything else covered as part of the nursing curriculum. This test is the final licensing step for RNs in most states.
Once you have become a registered nurse, your next step is to get hired on by a hospital. Many hospitals will not hire a new RN as a scrub nurse, requiring that they have more experience. If you were able to intern as a scrub nurse during college, that might be enough to get you into a position, depending on the size of the hospital and whether or not there is an open position. Let the person doing the interviews know that you want to become a scrub nurse, as it might affect where you are placed. Some nursing positions in a hospital will give you more relevant experience for becoming a perioperative nurse than others.
After you have a couple years of experience in general nursing at a hospital, begin looking for opportunities to apply for a scrub nurse position. Ask nurses who are already working in the operating rooms to let you know if there are any openings that come up. Begin checking with other nearby hospitals for open positions. Put together a resume that showcases your strengths and any experience you have. In addition, keep your resume updated so that you are ready to submit an application as soon as you hear about an opening.
Although it depends on your location and the number of other nurses who want to become scrub nurses, most nurses are able to get into this position within a few years. Furthering your education, through either college courses or training seminars, can be one of the best ways to improve your chances of getting hired. This is especially important in areas where perioperative nursing positions are in high demand, and therefore harder to get. By making yourself a better prospect than many of the other nurses competing for the job, you have a better chance of getting the position.