We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Become a Circulating Nurse?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Circulating nurses are essential members of a surgical team. They are responsible for preparing operating rooms and observing patients during surgeries, alerting doctors if complications arise. Since the job requires extensive knowledge of patient care procedures, a person who wants to become a circulating nurse usually needs to gain several years of experience in other nursing positions to prepare for the responsibilities of the position. In general, a bachelor's degree, success on a registered nurse licensing exam, and practical training in an emergency room or a critical care unit are needed to find work as a circulating nurse.

An individual who wants to become a circulating nurse can develop technical and personal skills in a four-year nursing program at an accredited university. Some hospitals and community colleges offer two-year programs to prepare new nurses, but most future circulating nurses choose to pursue bachelor's degrees to improve their resumes and their understanding of the job. An undergraduate usually takes classes in medical technology, patient care procedures, math, anatomy, and biology. In addition, many schools offer specialized classes in surgical nursing for students who are interested in perioperative and circulating nurse professions.

Nursing students often have the opportunity to work as interns at local hospitals while pursuing their degrees. A person who wants to become a circulating nurse usually has the option to spend most of an internship in surgical settings, observing procedures and learning about the role of perioperative professionals. Upon graduation, he or she can take a national licensing test to earn registered nurse credentials. Since new nurses are in high demand in most regions, entry-level opportunities for recent graduates are typically plentiful.

Most new nurses begin their careers in emergency rooms, ambulatory care units, and general hospitals. A professional who wants to become a circulating nurse can be exposed to many different types of patients and conditions, learning about emergency medical and surgical procedures. He or she can find out about perioperative opportunities by asking practicing nurses and hospital administrators. In many regions, a nurse needs to complete continuing education courses and a certain number of hours of general nursing experience before he or she can join a surgical team.

When a person does get the chance to begin attending surgeries, experienced nurses can explain the details of the job. A new circulating nurse generally works under supervision for several months, gradually earning more responsibilities. After working for about two years, an individual can take a voluntary certification exam to earn official circulating nurse credentials.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By honeybees — On Dec 16, 2011

It can be a little overwhelming when you are trying to decide which area of nursing to pursue. There also doesn't seem to be a shortage of RN jobs out there.

I am a registered nurse, and there are many advantages to this job, one being you can go just about anywhere in the country and be able to get a good job.

I have been thinking about applying for a circulating nurse position at the hospital where I currently work.

This job would be quite an increase in pay for me, and would also be better hours than what I currently have.

To be honest, the biggest thing that is holding me back is the contact I have with my patients. For me, this is the most rewarding and worthwhile part of my job.

I have a hard time imagining what it would be like if my patients were under anesthesia most of the time.

Of course there are always frustrating days when I am ready to do something else, but most of the time I really enjoy giving the day to day care.

I have all the education and experience needed to be a circulating nurse, I just need to decide if this is for me or not.

By myharley — On Dec 15, 2011

@jonrss - A lot of things depend on experience, but a typical circulating nurse can expect to make around $60,000 - $70,000 a year. It may be more or less depending on where you live and how much experience you have.

To become a circulating nurse, you will need to have experience before applying for a job like this. This would not usually be your first job after graduating.

My sister has worked as a nurse for many years, and as a circulatory nurse for the last 5 years. If you do not want a lot of patient contact, this is one position that you may want to think about.

After all the years of being on the floor, she has found this job to be challenging and rewarding in a different way. Sometimes she misses the day to to contact with the patients, but was also ready for something different.

By jonrss — On Dec 15, 2011

So where does a circulating nurse fit in on the nurse hierarchy. By that I mean, how does this job compare to other nursing jobs in terms of education required and pay expected?

I have been thinking of becoming a nurse for a long time but now that I am finally ready to do it I am finding myself kind of overwhelmed with all of my choices. There are just so many kinds of nursing jobs and so many ways to prepare yourself for them. I will be honest, I am not entering nursing because I love caring for people, I am entering nursing because I want a steady, well paying job.

By nextcorrea — On Dec 14, 2011

Surgeons often get all the credit and definitely get all the money, but in many ways the work that circulating nurses do is just as important as what the surgeon does. Surgery is about more than just the period of time when you are cut open and the surgeon has his hands inside your body. The period before and after is crucial for ensuring an effective procedure and a safe recovery.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.