I want to look into surgical nursing, but I'm very new to the medical field. Help?

  1. 0 Good day to all nurses,

    My name is Emma, and I am looking into going to school for nursing.

    What I want is to become a surgical nurse. The nurses that assist in surgeries, and aid the doctors. I'm not sure which program I should be getting into. My dream is to become a trauma surgical nurse.

    I live in Los Angeles, California. I've been looking allover for a good school to go to. My family friends daughter suggested CES of Burbank (http://www.cescollege.com/) and I made an appointment for tomorrow to go check out the school. But if anyone has different schools they'd like to suggest, that would be delightful.

    My main concern is, I'm not sure which program to take for what I want to do. I went to Concorde and I almost signed up until I realized their program was for Surgical Tech. Which is found out is different than Surgical Nurse... you can't really perform surgeries yourself (suturing, etc..)

    Can anyone give me any insight as to how I begin my journey into Surgical Nursing? What programs I should be looking into? And schools, if possible. Thank you so much for your time and concern.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 13, '14 : Reason: spacing
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  3. Visit  theperfectday0 profile page

    About theperfectday0

    Joined Jan '14; Posts: 11.

    28 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  Kuriin profile page
    0
    I don't think LVNs can act as surgical nurses. I think you have to be a full fledged RN before going into PACU and then as a surgical nurse.
  5. Visit  theperfectday0 profile page
    0
    Quote from StephenAndrews
    I don't think LVNs can act as surgical nurses. I think you have to be a full fledged RN before going into PACU and then as a surgical nurse.
    I'm not really interested in LVN. I want to get into RN. I was informed that the best way to go would be go for my LVN and then RN... But I was to be a Surgical Nurse. Not just a regular RN.
  6. Visit  theperfectday0 profile page
    0
    Just for the record guys, I'm not really familiar with the medical terms yet... I'm not sure what a PACU is, or any other acronym... thanks. :-P
  7. Visit  Wile E Coyote profile page
    2
    There are several roles in a surgical team, and varying paths to each role. Some roles can have multiple paths (education and training) to do the same job. Circulator, first assist, anesthesia provider, etc. can all be nurses. What you are describing to me sounds like first-assist. Look that up and the other team member roles and see what fits.
    JustBeachyNurse and RunBabyRN like this.
  8. Visit  SoldierNurse22 profile page
    6
    A surgical nurse is a regular RN. There is no extra certification required to become a surgical nurse, though many hospitals require prior experience. There are certifications available, but they are hardly required in the vast majority of hospitals. Likewise, no nursing school is going to prepare you specifically for a particular specialty in nursing. There isn't a nursing school for oncology nurses or L&D nurses or anything like that. Nursing school ensures that you have a basic comprehension of the foundations of nursing, prepares you to take the boards and lays the foundation for critical thinking.

    You need to go to school for your RN if you want your RN. Getting your LVN and then trying to get your RN while working is just a ridiculous idea unless you have extenuating factors that demand that you get a job fast(ish).

    Surgical nurses more often than not are not actually the ones assisting the surgeon. The majority of surgical nurses, per my experience, are circulators (in the operating room but charting, getting things that are needed by the surgical team, etc).

    As a surgical nurse, you will not be performing surgeries nor will you be suturing. You will not be in the cut with the doc. The surgical tech is the one who handles instruments and provides them to the surgeon during the actual surgery.
    Last edit by SoldierNurse22 on Jan 8, '14
  9. Visit  Kuriin profile page
    0
    Quote from theperfectday0
    I'm not really interested in LVN. I want to get into RN. I was informed that the best way to go would be go for my LVN and then RN... But I was to be a Surgical Nurse. Not just a regular RN.
    Sorry. I thought you checked the school's website that you linked. They do not offer ADN or BSN. They offer LVNs.


    edit: Soldier is right, at least for Kaiser in California. In all my times of being in the OR, the RN acts as a circulator, making sure equipment is all there and if anything's needed, they will go get it. The person handing the equipment to the surgeon will be the Surgical Tech.
    Last edit by Kuriin on Jan 8, '14
  10. Visit  RunBabyRN profile page
    3
    Quote from SoldierNurse22
    A surgical nurse is a regular RN. There is no extra certification required to become a surgical nurse, though many hospitals require prior experience. There are certifications available, but they are hardly required in the vast majority of hospitals. Likewise, no nursing school is going to prepare you specifically for a particular specialty in nursing. There isn't a nursing school for oncology nurses or L&D nurses or anything like that. Nursing school ensures that you have a basic comprehension of the foundations of nursing, prepares you to take the boards and lays the foundation for critical thinking.

    You need to go to school for your RN if you want your RN. Getting your LVN and then trying to get your RN while working is just a ridiculous idea unless you have extenuating factors that demand that you get a job fast(ish).

    Surgical nurses more often than not are not actually the ones assisting the surgeon. The majority of surgical nurses, per my experience, are circulators (in the surgical room but charting, getting things that are needed by the surgical team, etc).

    As a surgical nurse, you will not be performing surgeries nor will you be suturing. You will not be in the cut with the doc. The surgical tech is the one who handles instruments and provides them to the surgeon during the actual surgery.
    I was going to say this, too. If you want to perform surgery, you might need to be a surgeon.
    Surgical nurses go through the exact same nursing program as any other nurse. Also, the job market right now is EXTREMELY competitive, especially for new grads. People are taking what they can get. You may not get RIGHT into surgical nursing out of school. Being okay with that and open to other units for awhile would serve you well.
    Check out the Specialties tab- there are a few specialties you might click on and poke around.
    Also, talk to surgical nurses in your area. Get their words of wisdom.
    I'd look at the CSUs down there that offer a BSN (LB, LA, CI, and others, if I remember right). You'll have a better chance at jobs with a BSN nowadays, especially in that market- I know Cedars no longer hires ADNs (associate-degree nurses).
  11. Visit  theperfectday0 profile page
    0
    Quote from SoldierNurse22
    A surgical nurse is a regular RN. There is no extra certification required to become a surgical nurse, though many hospitals require prior experience. There are certifications available, but they are hardly required in the vast majority of hospitals. Likewise, no nursing school is going to prepare you specifically for a particular specialty in nursing. There isn't a nursing school for oncology nurses or L&D nurses or anything like that. Nursing school ensures that you have a basic comprehension of the foundations of nursing, prepares you to take the boards and lays the foundation for critical thinking.

    You need to go to school for your RN if you want your RN. Getting your LVN and then trying to get your RN while working is just a ridiculous idea unless you have extenuating factors that demand that you get a job fast(ish).

    Surgical nurses more often than not are not actually the ones assisting the surgeon. The majority of surgical nurses, per my experience, are circulators (in the surgical room but charting, getting things that are needed by the surgical team, etc).

    As a surgical nurse, you will not be performing surgeries nor will you be suturing. You will not be in the cut with the doc. The surgical tech is the one who handles instruments and provides them to the surgeon during the actual surgery.

    So you're saying that Surgical TECH will allow me to handle instruments in the OR, but regardless I won't be able to perform anything myself?
    I'm getting different information from different people. I was led to believe that Surgical Tech does not handle equipment, merely sanitizes and preps the OR.
    Are you familiar with the salaries of a Surgical Tech VS. Surgical Nurse?
    I've been informed, not only does a Surgical Tech. get paid significantly more, they actually have a part in the OR.

    As an experienced nurse, do you have a suggestion as to which program is more suitable for what I'm interested in?
    I want a well paying salary, of course (with all that student loans I'll need to pay it off quick!) but I also want to scrub in. If I choose Surgical RN, I will be able to scrub in right?
  12. Visit  theperfectday0 profile page
    0
    I see, but Surgical Techs barely make a living! I don't want to sound melodramatic, but the standard of living is so high right now... I need to be able to financially support myself and a family. I'm probably leaning more towards RN, I've heard an RN can scrub in.. is that not the case? I talked to a West Coast University admissions rep and he said that you take the program (3 years and 3 months) and then you take the license test (forgot the name of it), and then you get to choose your field. So what exactly does a "Surgical" Nurse do, if not maintain the OR?
  13. Visit  SoldierNurse22 profile page
    4
    So you're saying that Surgical TECH will allow me to handle instruments in the OR, but regardless I won't be able to perform anything myself? Correct. Surgeons actually perform surgery--hence the name.

    I'm getting different information from different people. I was led to believe that Surgical Tech does not handle equipment, merely sanitizes and preps the OR. That is incorrect. Surgical techs may very easily be responsible for prepping parts of the OR, but they absolutely handle the instruments. That is one of their primary functions in every hospital I've been in.

    Are you familiar with the salaries of a Surgical Tech VS. Surgical Nurse? A quick google search gives $42,000 a year for a tech and $64,000 a year for a nurse. Techs can get their educations at technical schools (9-15 months for schooling) or an associate's degree (about 2 years). An RN-BSN has a 4-year degree--a bachelor's in nursing. An ADN has an associate's in nursing, which takes anywhere between 2-3 years to complete.

    I've been informed, not only does a Surgical Tech. get paid significantly more, they actually have a part in the OR. On the whole, that is incorrect. Nurses will almost always make more. That may vary if the nurse and tech in question both have an associate's degree.

    As an experienced nurse, do you have a suggestion as to which program is more suitable for what I'm interested in? Honestly? It sounds like you want to be a surgeon. If you want to be performing the surgery, suturing, etc, that is what you're interested in. If you want to be involved in the surgery but not have to deal with the schooling required for surgeons, I'd suggest a surgical tech.

    I want a well paying salary, of course (with all that student loans I'll need to pay it off quick!) but I also want to scrub in. If I choose Surgical RN, I will be able to scrub in right? Not necessarily. A circulating nurse (a common role of a surgical RN) is the one person in the room that isn't scrubbed in. They chart for the surgical team and obtain equipment that may be needed in the OR.
    JustBeachyNurse, DoeRN, loriangel14, and 1 other like this.
  14. Visit  RunBabyRN profile page
    3
    Quote from theperfectday0
    I talked to a West Coast University admissions rep and he said that you take the program (3 years and 3 months) and then you take the license test (forgot the name of it), and then you get to choose your field.
    I'm assuming West Coast University is a BSN program, then?
    I would REALLY try to save your money on a private university and look at the CSUs. Don't waste a gagillion dollars on a private school if you can attend a state school. I know CSULB has a 2 year BSN, where you go through the summers as well (that's one school I got into, but chose a different CSU that's also 2 years).
    The test you take is called the NCLEX, and all nurses must pass this exam in order to become licensed. You'll see there's a whole forum devoted to that- big source of stress for nursing students!
    You DO get to choose your field, simply by applying for jobs that interest you. There isn't necessarily something that happens that makes you a peds nurse or a cardiac nurse or a surgical nurse, other than working on those units.
  15. Visit  SoldierNurse22 profile page
    3
    I see, but Surgical Techs barely make a living! $42,000 isn't a bad salary. It really depends on your definition of a "living".

    I don't want to sound melodramatic, but the standard of living is so high right now... I need to be able to financially support myself and a family. I'm probably leaning more towards RN, I've heard an RN can scrub in.. is that not the case? They can, but again, that is not their primary function in most ORs anymore. Surgical techs have taken over the role of the nurse in the OR when it comes to being directly involved in surgery.

    I talked to a West Coast University admissions rep and he said that you take the program (3 years and 3 months) and then you take the license test (forgot the name of it) that's the NCLEX, and then you get to choose your field. Actually, in this economy, you'll look for a job and pray you get one. Whether or not that's in surgery, that's a crap shoot. There are many, many new grad RNs who cannot find work. It isn't a new grad's market.

    So what exactly does a "Surgical" Nurse do, if not maintain the OR? They chart. They chart as the surgery is occurring. They get things that are needed by the surgical team. Because they aren't scrubbed in, they can obtain materials that are in sterile wrapping and transfer them to the sterile field for use in surgery.
    OCNRN63, loriangel14, and RunBabyRN like this.


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