Scrub nurses work in a perioperative role, assisting surgeons during procedures in the operating theatre. A scrub nurse is responsible for passing instruments and sponges to the surgeon during surgery. Scrub nurses work within the sterile field of medical care. They scrub their hands and arms with strong disinfectant soap to prepare for procedures and wear gowns, caps and protective gloves. The average salary of a scrub nurse as of June 2010 was £26,000, according to the Simply Hired job search and salary information website.
A scrub nurse must first qualify as a registered nurse, or RN, by completing a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree or a diploma course in nursing. RN programs are available at community colleges, nursing schools, medical institutes and universities across the United States. Some programs offer specific modules that cover perioperative care nursing duties. These courses are crucial for anyone who wants to train as a scrub nurse.
RN students should apply for any internships run by their college or nursing school. These usually take the form of work placements in local hospitals. An internship is an excellent way to gain experience as a scrub nurse in a practical medical setting. However, competition for places is often fierce and some hospitals only accept applicants with previous nursing experience.
Once you have completed your nursing degree, you can take the registered nurse National Council Licensure Examination, or the NCLEX-RN. The exam will test your general nursing skills, your knowledge of human anatomy and subjects covered in your RN training, including nutrition, biology and infection control. Once you pass the exam you can apply for a nursing license from your state medical board.
Once qualified as an RN, you should apply for entry-level nursing roles in hospital. Most hospitals will not take on recently graduated nurses as scrub nurses. However, applicants with experience in perioperative care from a college internship program may be eligible. When applying for entry-level nursing positions, you should tell your interviewer that you wish to move into a scrub nurse role. Some hospitals may provide basic training in perioperative care roles if resources are sufficient. This will provide valuable experience for your future development as a scrub nurse.
Many RNs move onto scrub nurse roles after a few years experience in traditional nursing positions. Developing your skills by obtaining advanced education, such as a master’s of science in perioperative nursing, will boost your chances of securing a position.
Candidates for scrub nurse roles can complete a surgical technologist program. This takes nine months to two years to complete and results in the award of a certificate, diploma or associate degree, according to the Degree Directory website. The course covers areas including microbiology, sterile techniques and surgical patient care. The surgical technologist program requires less training than the perioperative master's degree, but the duties you can perform as a scrub nurse are more restricted so securing employment may be difficult.