Orthopedic Nursing is rooted in Victorian England. As a 9-year-old child, the specialty's matriarch, Dame Agnes Hunt, was crippled from septic arthritis of the hip (osteomyelitis). She overcame obstacles to become a Nurse and devoted her entire nursing career to improving the lives of crippled children.
Hospital acute units
Hospital surgery units
Outpatient surgical centers
Oncology units (in -/out-patient bone cancer treatment)
Orthopedic private practices
Easter Seals organization (congenital defects, pediatric trauma)
Early intervention clinics
Long-term acute care rehab hospitals
Duties and Responsibilities
Caring for patients who have orthopedic injuries or who are having or have had orthopedic surgery
set broken bones
apply casts and/or splints
In-patient rounds and documentation
Coordinate plan of care
Interaction with orthopedic healthcare colleagues
physicians and surgeons
Pre -/Intra -/post-operative care
preparing for an orthopedic surgical procedure
patient recovery from orthopedic surgery
Counsel patients contemplating joint replacement
Facilitate acute care for critically ill patients with multi-organ trauma and/or multiple fractures/trauma
Assist with rehab
coordinate care of physical and occupational therapists as well as ancillary personnel
assess the environment
provide advice for safe transferring, bathing, cooking, overall living
Professional Orthopedic Nursing Organization
The National Association of Orthopaedic Nursing (NAON) is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization. They sponsor conferences and define standards of practice and research guidelines for Nurses. It is an accredited provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation (ANCC - COA).
Graduate from an accredited school of nursing that offers a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) program
LPN/LVN: Certificate, Diploma, or Degree
RN: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Diploma in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) - Advanced Practice Nurses (NP, CNS, etc.) have at least an MSN or higher degree
Successfully pass the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN examination
Current, unencumbered RN or LPN/LVN license in the U.S. state of practice
The Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB) offers the ONC® certification, the ONP-C® certification, and the ONC-A™ Advanced Certification (by portfolio) examinations.
ONC® Exam Eligibility (not all-inclusive)
Candidates for the ONC examination are not required to have a BSN
2 years of full-time experience practicing as an RN
Minimum of 1,000 hours work experience as an RN in orthopedic nursing practice within the past three years
Current, unencumbered RN license in the U.S. or its possessions, OR hold a current, full and unrestricted license to practice as a first-level, general nurse in the country in which the candidate’s general nursing education was completed, and have educational equivalency established by outlined agencies (see site)
ONP-C® Exam Eligibility (not all-inclusive)
3 years of full-time RN or APRN experience
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or higher, from an accredited APRN nursing program as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) - NOTE: Candidates must have earned graduate degrees in the U.S.
Minimum 2,000 hours of APRN experience within the past 3 years and presently be functioning as an NP who cares for patients with musculoskeletal conditions
Current, unencumbered license as an RN in the U.S. or its possessions OR hold a current, full and unrestricted license to practice as a first-level, general nurse in the country in which the candidate’s general nursing education was completed, and meet the eligibility criteria for licensure as an RN in the U.S. in accordance with requirements of outlined agencies (see site)
ONC-A™ (by portfolio) Eligibility (not all-inclusive)
3 years (full-time) RN experience
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or higher, OR related discipline with direct involvement in musculoskeletal health (not available to Nurse Practitioners)
Candidates whose graduate degrees were earned abroad are not eligible to apply for this certification
Minimum 2500 hours work experience in musculoskeletal health since completing the graduate degree OR within the last 3 years if degree completion was more than 3 years ago
Current, unencumbered RN license in the U.S. or its possessions
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for an Orthopedic RN in the U.S. is $96,259 a year with annual salaries as high as $144,000. The majority of Orthopedic RN salaries currently range between $69,500 to $120,500 across the U.S.
According to salary.com, the average Orthopedic NP salary in the U.S. is $113,300 with the range falling between $105,800 and $120,500.
Orthopedic nurses can fulfill many nursing roles in many varied environments. As healthcare continues to evolve, it will be very important for the Orthopedic Nurse to take advantage of continuing education (CE/CEU) opportunities as well as experience in a variety of orthopedic specialties.
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