You might say orthopedic RNs are the backbone of musculoskeletal patient care! This fantastic group of healthcare professionals is also often referred to as ortho RNs and sometimes by the alternate spelling orthopedic RNs. Especially with the rapidly aging Baby Boomer population, there’s major demand for orthopedic nurses and other healthcare professionals to work in orthopedics. With this consistent need, come all kinds of well-paying travel orthopedic jobs throughout the nation! If you’re a current or aspiring orthopedic RN — or an occupational therapist, physical therapy assistant, tech, or surgery tech working in orthopedics — keep reading to learn more and explore nationwide job opportunities to find your perfect fit.
Orthopedic Nurse Career
Many Orthopedic RNs who work in travel nursing say they benefit from their career choice by avoiding nurse burnout and hospital politics while still sharing their skill, experience, and much-appreciated talent with facilities nationwide. With a variety of new locations and facilities to choose from, being a travel orthopedic nurse is a great way to stay motivated and focused on providing great patient care. Working as a travel ortho RN is a fantastic way to keep sharpening your clinical skills, gain more experience with a variety of patient populations, and build your resume — plus, you get to explore the country and embrace the many professional and personal opportunities available to you!
What Does an Orthopedic RN Do?
Orthopedic nurses perform various duties related to the treatment of patients suffering from musculoskeletal diseases, injuries, and conditions. This includes assisting in ortho surgeries and after-care measures like casting, traction, and other such therapies and treatments. Ortho RNs also help patients recover from surgery by monitoring pain, strength, and range of motion, and treating to ensure expected recovery. They also help educate patients and families/caregivers on the best ways to treat and lessen symptoms, regain mobility, and avoid future injuries and/or further deterioration.
To succeed as an orthopedic RN, you must be calm, patient, and an excellent communicator who enjoys working closely with patients. The best ortho nurses are resourceful, quick thinkers who appreciate working with a variety of patients, but don’t mind a highly structured environment. Excellent observation and assessment skills are also key.
An orthopedic nurse’s ultimate goals are to ensure each patient in an acute situation of musculoskeletal injury or surgery is treated (whether that means surgery, casting, traction, etc.), regains full (or as full as possible) mobility, and is ultimately discharged with proper education. When it comes to chronic and longer-term musculoskeletal issues, the ortho RN’s ultimate goal is to educate, assess, and treat the patient as best as possible on a continuing basis.
Where Do Orthopedic RNs Work?
Orthopedic nurses help care for patients with musculoskeletal conditions, diseases, injuries, and disorders. They’re most likely to work in acute hospital settings, clinics, or private practices. However, with so much variety in this specialty, other likely work environments for them include long-term care facilities, ambulatory infusion centers, rehab centers, sports-related environments, physical therapy centers, government/military facilities, home health settings, community-based healthcare centers, via telehealth, in educational settings, and other such places.
Who Works with Orthopedic RNs?
Depending on the setting, orthopedic nurses work with a multidisciplinary team of fellow healthcare and administrative professionals. They’re most likely to work with surgeons, occupational therapists, physical therapy assistants, surgery techs and other techs, NPs, LPNs, CNAs, social workers, charge/clinical coordinators, specialists, dieticians, clinical pharmacists, clinical psychologists, and administrative staff.
Who’s Treated by Orthopedic RNs?
Since ortho nurses treat patients with musculoskeletal issues, they’re most likely to see patients with osteoporosis, broken bones, fractures, joint replacements, various types of arthritis, genetic orthopedic malformations, musculoskeletal masses, degenerative disorders, orthopedic surgeries.
Quick Orthopedic RN Facts
- Commonly required Orthopedic RN education: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and/or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), plus passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
- Commonly required orthopedic RN certifications: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), Orthopedic Nurses Certification (ONC)
- Commonly preferred orthopedic RN certifications: National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Commonly required experience to become an orthopedic RN: Facilities typically require at least two years of recent, in-hospital experience to hire you as an orthopedic nurse. To protect your license and deliver the best possible patient care, you’ll appreciate the benefit of experience before you start your travel RN career!
- Average orthopedic RN salary range: $67,500-$120,500
Locations where orthopedic RNs are in high demand: Demand for orthopedic nurses is growing nationwide, particularly with the large Baby Boomer population aging fast. However, several states like Washington, Maryland, New York, Virginia, Nebraska, Delaware, Idaho, California, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Hawaii reflect high demand for ortho RNs with the highest average salaries for that role.