Surgical Nurse Job Description


A surgical nurse is a specialized type of registered nurse who provides cares to surgical patients before, during and after operative surgeries. The job is demanding and each operating procedure entails alertness and accuracy. The surgical nurse is considered part of a surgical team together with the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and technicians. There are different kinds of surgical nurses; scrub nurses, circulating nurses and RN first assistants and they all play distinct and important roles in medical surgery.


In pre-operative care, the surgical nurse helps the patient prepare for surgery. Surgical nurses need to explain the procedure to the patient and alleviate fears and concerns the patient might have. They check the patient’s vitals, give medications, and sterilize the surgical site. During surgery, they assist the surgeon by handing out instruments to the surgeon as requested, monitoring the patient’s vital signs, and wipe or suction out the accumulating fluids at the surgical site They also make sure everyone in the operating room is sterile. They keep count of instruments and tools to ensure that no inadvertent mistake like leaving instruments inside a patient’s body ever happens. In post-operative care, nurses, monitor the patient’s stability. They are in charge of dressings, monitoring vital signs, observing complications, and giving medications. The surgical nurse sees to it that the swift and smooth recovery of the patient is realized.

Education and Training Requirements:

A bachelor’s degree in nursing, a 2-year associate’s degree program in nursing that specializes in surgical nursing or diploma programs that last 2-3 years are ways in which a candidate can become a surgical nurse. After graduating, students must pass the NCLEX-RN examination to become registered nurses.

Knowledge and Skills Requirements:

Besides in-depth knowledge of medical conditions and treatments, a surgical nurse needs to have excellent communication and critical thinking skills. She needs to remain calm and make right decisions in emergencies; possess empathy; a good listener, organized, always willing to adapt to new skills and has the ability to multi task.

Working Conditions:

Surgical nurses, though having regular working hours, are expected to work long hours under stressful conditions. Their job entails standing for long periods. They may work on freestanding surgery clinics, emergency centers, and hospitals. Surgical nurses also face emotional patients every day, so they must be able to handle stress and emotions properly.


A surgical nurse makes $50,000 annually on average. Factors like size of company, location, nature of the industry, benefits and experience may cause salaries to vary considerably amongst surgical nurses.

Create your own professional looking resume for free using our resume builder!