Are you interested in breaking into a fast-paced operating room nurse career? 

Thousands of people are drawn to operating room (OR) nursing for the rewarding work and job benefits it offers. Yet, some people feel intimidated by the career and are questioning whether it’s worth it. 

Taking the time to evaluate if OR nursing is a good fit for you is a good next step.

In this guide, you will understand what operating room nurses do and the opportunities available to move into this career if it is the right choice for you.

Table of Contents



What Is It Like to Be an Operating Room Nurse? 

Operating room nurses (OR nurses) or perioperative nurses provide care for patients who are undergoing surgery. They may be responsible for taking care of patients undergoing surgery.

OR nurses perform tasks such as assisting with:

  • Anesthesia
  • Monitoring vital signs; and
  • Helping the surgeon operate

Having excellent communication and organizational skills is necessary for OR nurses to provide the best possible patient care.

OR nurses typically work long hours. To provide the best patient care, these nurses work in shifts so that everyone can take time off between their demanding schedules.

Many nurses choose this career because of their dedication to patient care and the responsibility that comes with it. 

Do you enjoy helping people and feel a sense of fulfillment in what you do as a nurse? If so, you may be a good fit for an operating room nurse career.

Let us at Trusted Nurse Staffing help you locate your travel nursing opportunity by creating your profile. Click below.


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Is It Hard Being an Operating Room Nurse?

Although “hard” is subjective, the fact is OR nurses work in high-stress situations.

They provide critical care — often under extreme conditions — which requires OR nurses to be able to:

  • Think on their feet
  • Make quick decisions
  • Remain calm under stress
  • Work closely with surgeons; and
  • Handle difficult patients and situations


what is it like to be an operating room nurse


What Does an Operating Room Nurse Do? 

Operating room nurses are responsible for providing care to patients before, during, and after surgery. They work with …

  • Surgeons
  • Anesthesiologists; and
  • Other medical professionals

… to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

Operating room nurses may perform duties in the following three phases of surgeries: 

  • The preoperative phase is the time leading up to surgery and assigned to a pre-op nurse.
  • The intraoperative phase is the time during the surgery and is accompanied by an intra-op nurse.
  • The postoperative phase is the time following the surgery and is serviced by a post-op nurse

Now that you know nurses are involved in all phases of surgery, let’s find out what they typically do during each one.

Pre-Op Nurses

Pre-op nurses help medical professionals prepare the patient for surgery. They are the lead person who can spot concerns before a patient goes into the operating room.

Before surgery, pre-op nurses may:

  • Provide directions to the surgery area
  • Explain the procedure to be performed
  • Inform the patient of the risks and benefits of surgery
  • Review any preoperative directives that have been given
  • Answer any questions the patients or their families may have
  • Assist with any prep work required for surgery; and
  • Check-in patients to ensure they have information they need about the surgery

Intra-Op Nurses

Intra-op nurses are in charge of the care of the patient during the surgery and also assist the medical team when necessary.

During surgery, intra-op nurses may:

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Stay with the patient
  • Ensure a safe and efficient surgery; and
  • Work with the anesthesiologist and administer medicine

Post-Op Nurses

Post-op nurses provide support to patients who have undergone surgery. They help them recover from the surgery and get back to their normal life.

After surgery, post-op nurses may:

  • Provide pain medication as needed
  • Follow up with the patient after surgery
  • Prescribe antibiotics if necessary after surgery
  • Answer any questions that the patient may have
  • Check on patients to make sure they’re doing well after surgery; and
  • Track vital signs and respond to any emergencies that may occur postoperatively


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What Surgeries Do Operating Room Nurses Assist With?

Operating room nurses are typically responsible for providing direct patient care, assisting with procedures, and providing support during surgery.

Generally, operating room nurses assist surgeons during common surgeries, such as:

  • Trauma
  • Neurosurgery
  • Cardiac surgery
  • General surgery
  • Transplant surgery
  • Breast cancer surgery
  • Plastic or reconstructive surgery
  • And any other type of surgery

Operating room nurses play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. They must be skilled in a variety of medical procedures such as:

  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia; and
  • Critical care

Where Do OR Nurses Work?

Operating room nurses are the backbone of efficient and safe surgeries across the country. 

OR nurses work in the operating room, which is a sterile and controlled area where surgical procedures are performed.

Because of the critical nature of their work, it is common for OR nurses to work in high-quality medical facilities.

Cancer Centers

Cancer center operating room nurses are in charge of cancer patient care during medical procedures.

They work in a specific area that is identical to a hospital’s operating room, which regularly undergoes:

  • Surgical
  • Procedural
  • Diagnostic; and
  • Interventional procedures

Outpatient Clinics

Operating room nurses are the first line of defense in providing quality patient care in outpatient clinics and often spend more time with patients than physicians or other providers.

They have a wide range of responsibilities in the operation room, such as:

  • Preparing patients for surgery
  • Monitoring anesthesia levels
  • Fluid administration; and
  • Running the room

Emergency Rooms

Operating room nurses in emergency rooms provide care to patients who have been brought in with emergency injuries or medical conditions.

Including the standard operating room nurse care, they are responsible for:

  • Creating a safe and comfortable environment for the patient; and
  • Ensuring that they receive the best possible care during surgery

Military Bases

Operating room nurses work on military bases and provide care to soldiers during their operations.

The role of the operating room nurse is to provide:

  • A safe environment for soldiers during their operations
  • Leadership in taking charge in case of emergencies; and
  • Treatment of soldiers who were injured before the operation

What Are the Requirements to Become an Operating Room Nurse? 

Becoming an operating room nurse requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. With the right education and experience, you can become an operating room nurse.

As an operating room nurse, it is important to have the following:

  • Experience working in a hospital setting
  • Knowledge of cardiac arrest protocols
  • A degree in nursing or a related field; and
  • Certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

Many of the requirements for operating room nurses vary depending on the specific facility or hospital where you want to work. 

Job requirements for operating room nurses vary depending on the specific hospital or clinic, but usually include excellent communication and organizational skills. 

Most hospitals will require that you have at least two years of experience as a registered nurse. 

Other skills OR nurses need include being able to:

  • Problem solve
  • Work with a team
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Communicate effectively
  • Handle high levels of stress; and
  • Respond to emergencies quickly


operating room RV


How Much Do Operating Room Nurses Make? 

Operating room nurses are one of the most important members of the surgical team. The job is very demanding, so it is no surprise that OR nurses can earn high salaries.

According to Indeed, the average salary for operating room nurses is:

  • $164,720 per year
  • $11,662 per month
  • $77.69 per hour

This figure varies depending on the experience and location of the job, but it tends to be higher than other nursing roles.

According to self-reported salaries in the United States, the highest paying cities for OR nurses are:

  1. New York, NY
    $91.83 per hour
  2. Baltimore, MD
    $91.12 per hour
  3. Seattle, WA
    $85.36 per hour
  4. Chicago, IL
    $85.30 per hour
  5. St. Louis, MO
    $84.00 per hour
  6. Portland, OR
    $77.09 per hour
  7. Houston, TX
    $76.22 per hour
  8. Richmond, VA
    $69.54 per hour
  9. Birmingham, AL
    $48.71 per hour

Ready to Establish Yourself as an Operating Room Nurse and Travel the Country? Trusted Nurse Staffing Is Here to Help You Find the Career of Your Dreams

Establishing yourself as an operating room nurse can be time-consuming and difficult without the right support. You will need to be in the right location to gain experience on the job, and this can be a hard task to accomplish when looking for a job.

Trusted Nurse Staffing is an agency that specializes in placing nurses with medical facilities across the country. 

We make it our priority to help you find your ideal job as an operating room nurse.

With Trusted Nurse Staffing, you get the best of both worlds:

  • Top-notch staffing services
  • Job placement expertise

By talking with one of our professional team members, you can learn about the operating room nurse career and determine if this is the right field for you. 

You can also explore different roles and find out what job requirements are necessary to become a successful OR nurse.

Are you ready to begin your journey into an operating room nurse career?

Trusted Nurse Staffing can help you find the career of your dreams. Click below to create your profile today.


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