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How do I Become a Scrub Nurse?

Margo Upson
By
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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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.

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.
Margo Upson
By Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a Practical Adult Insights writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.
Discussion Comments
By anon924932 — On Jan 08, 2014

In Australia, Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses are put through a graduate nurse program and part of this is a rotation through theatre learning the various roles. I completed a year's Graduate Nurse program straight after I received my diploma and have never worked on the wards.

Scrub/scout nursing is hard work and long hours. There is a lot to learn and many different specialties. The best place to learn is in a public teaching hospital!

By quiringhr3 — On Jul 02, 2010

According to the 2007 AORN Salary Survey, a staff nurse, on average, in the U.S., can expect to earn an annual salary of about $60,500. This is, of course, dependent on the geography of the position, experience of the worker, and less might be paid by smaller health care facilities.

The need for nurses, like much of the medical field, is very strongly in demand. This can be attributed to the aging population, Baby Boomers, and the rise in health care costs.

By hrquir — On Jul 02, 2010

A scrub nurse not only plays a very vital role, but appears to also be a rewarding career with several different aspects to offer.

RNs may choose to be scrub nurses, or circulation nurses, but still have the flexibility to work as regular RNs. This provides a person an opportunity that a lot of careers seldom have -- the ability to chose several roles.

It is recommended that a scrub nurse perform at least 2 years of regular nursing duties before specializing in one area.

Also, the scrub nurse must have a well trained eye and strong attention for detail since they have a lot of responsibility.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
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