I've received quite a few PMs recently regarding how I became a surgical NP. Which specialty is the best route and in general what my typical day looks like so I thought I'd post something.
I started as an Med/surg nurse and then a travel nurse in cardiac step-downs but OR nursing always intrigued me. So I became an OR nurse and was there for about 10 years. My hospital had an excellent reimbursement program and a friend of mine had started NP school and I decided I didn't want to be a lifer lol so I decided to start chipping away at an NP program too.
I always envisioned myself doing something procedural based with it. I didn't really see myself as a primary care NP so that was always my goal-although none of my training in NP school was in inpatient surgery. I decided to go with an FNP program figuring that that would be the broadest education. At that time the Acute NP programs were just becoming more popular-still I feel like FNP works well.
It took me quite a bit of work to get my first surgical NP job. I hounded my first boss with emails when I saw position posted and when I finally got an interview I really played up my OR nursing experience.
My training was all hands-on. They were generous enough to pay for my RNFA program-RN first assist program which is required in my state for all NPs to practice in the operating room. It Required about 200 hours of precepting from a surgeon and it took me roughly 5 months together these hours. By no means did I feel skilled at the end of those hours but I felt competent enough for small cases/closures.
I've been at it for about two years now and have since changed hospitals. I do not take call, work weekends or holidays. I typically round by myself and chat with the doctors either on the phone or via text. I assist in the OR almost every day and I love it. I feel like I'm getting a lot better. I occasionally see patients in the ER, consult and consent for procedures. I dictate on consults after speaking with the surgeon and discharge plans. I oversee patients in the day surgery unit and write prescriptions and orders for them as well.
I'm thrilled with my move. I feel like I've been able to spend a lot more quality time with my family and I even still moonlight at my old hospital for 'play money'!
I definitely recommend the specialty although it is difficult to get your first job and your foot in the door as we all know we are not typically trained this way so it helps to know people or to have the luxury of waiting for the perfect job.
Last edit by Alicia777 on Jan 16
Thank you for the insight! Your career is definitely what you make of it.
You're doing so much of what I envision for myself in my future role as a NP. I will complete the RNFA program during my ACNP program (I start the RNFA program this fall). I want a job where I work significantly in the OR and round pre and post operatively on patients. I'm ok with taking call and working my share of weekends - at least at the beginning of my career.
Do you mind sharing what part of the country you practice in?
If you don't mind me asking...how is the pay?
Well I'll be damned..didn't even know that position existed.
Sure, I work in the Northeast and I make roughly 120K with 2 years experience.
I didn't even know this specialty existed for NPs but I'm happy that I came across this post. How long did it take for you to complete your FNP with the RNFA program all together.
Well I did my FNP part-time, that took 3 years and my RNFA was after I became a NP and that took me about 5 months. The amount of time it takes to get the RNFA is all dependent on how much time you can get in the OR to complete the required hours..
Thank you for the information. So did you get hired on at the hospital where you completed your RNFA. How long did it take for you to find a job as a surgical NP? Sorry all the questions lol I'm done I promise.
That's right I completed my RNFA at my first job. They allowed me to work and train simultaneously. It took me about 6 months to find a position but I was happy enough in my RN job to wait for it..
Thank you for sharing! This is a specialty I have my sights set on! I am so ready to further my education
This is all incredibly helpful! I didn't even know this position existed. I have a couple questions about which programs you looked at and the path you took of it'd be alright to pm you?
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