Jobs and Salaries in the Operating Room

The Operating Room is a fun and exciting place to work; here we will explore some of the different jobs and responsibilities for those interested in surgery.

Education: 4 years of undergraduate work, 4 years of medical school and 3-7 years of additional residency and fellowship training.
Salary: $175,000 and up, surgeons income can increase substantially with one’s own practice, opportunities to invest in surgical facilities and consulting opportunities with medical device manufacturers.

Job description: To provide anesthesia though a variety of methods to patients undergoing surgical procedures while monitoring and adjusting physiologic function such as heart rate, blood pressure and respirations.
Education: 4 years of undergraduate work, 4 years of medical school and 3-5 years of additional residency and possible fellowship training.
Salary: $190,000 – $450,000
Additional notes: While surgeons typically need an office, medical assistance and nurses to see patients prior to and after surgery increasing their operating cost, anesthesiologists typically see their patients the day of surgery and require little follow-up after surgery thus able to decrease overhead costs and decrease the amount of call when not in the operating room.

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Job description: According to statistics, approximately 60% of anesthesia is provided my CRNAs. Nurse Anesthetists have similar responsibilities to Anesthesiologists, to provide safe anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical procedures with oversight from an anesthesiologist. This means one might find one anesthesiologist responsible for providing support to a group of surgical rooms each with a CRNA providing care to the patient.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Nursing followed by at least one year of critical care experience such as ICU nursing prior to entering a 2 year Master’s of Nursing program focusing on Anesthesia.
Salary: $90,000 – $150,000

Physician Assistant (PA)
Job description: The PA assists in the Preoperative evaluation of patients, assist during surgery, and follows patient after surgery. They are the right hand of the surgeon often writing the orders for medications and medical interventions nurses use to care for hospital patients. The PA will often take “call” with the surgeon and be responsible for taking phone calls from patients in the post operative period as well as assist with emergency care of patients at night and on the weekends.
Education: Masters Degree from a physician assistant program.
Salary: $70,000 – $120,000
Registered Nurse, Operating Room (RN)
Job description: To provide nursing care to surgical patients. The registered nurse is responsible for ensuring safe and effective care for patients undergoing surgical procedures. This includes preoperative evaluation of surgical patients to ensure they are ready for surgery such as labs, EKG and other pre operative requirements. They are responsible for ensuring the surgical theater has everything necessary for the surgical procedure such as the appropriate instrumentation and surgical implants, assisting the anesthesiologist while putting the patient to sleep, positioning and prepping the patient, documentation of the surgical procedure, and providing support to the surgical team by opening additional surgical items needed during the surgical procedure. When in the scrub nurse role the RN will participate in the surgical procedure by both assisting the surgeon as well as manage the sterile instruments during the surgery.
Education: Associates or Bachelors Degree in Nursing and 6 month – 1 year operating room internship.
Salary: $50,000 – $120,000
Salaries for nurses in the operating room can very greatly because of addition pay for overtime, call pay, and pay for special call teams such as the cardiac or transplant teams, and leadership positions.

Surgical Tech
Job description: To manage the surgical instruments during the surgical procedure and to assist the surgeon. This includes making sure all necessary instrumentation and implants are present prior to the surgical procedure and preparing the room for the surgical procedure.
Education: 1 year surgical technology program
Salary: $35,000 – $85,000
Salaries for surgical technologists in the operating room can very greatly because of addition pay for overtime, call pay, and pay for special call teams such as the cardiac or transplant teams.

Operating Room Attendant
Job description: Assist in transporting patients, moving patients, and setting up the surgical rooms for procedures by moving the surgical bed and other equipment into the necessary configuration prior to surgery.
Education: High School and on the job training or the Operating Room Assistant Training .
Salary: $12 – $18 per hour, additionally attendants will commonly take call for the operating room increasing their pay and opportunity for overtime substantially.

Job description: Ensuring the operating room is clean after each surgical procedure
Education: On the job training
Salary: $9 – $13 per hour, typically no opportunity for call, limited overtime opportunity

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Steps to retire with $1,000,000 as a RN

As nurses, we are lucky to be in a profession which is both personally rewarding and relatively insulated from the poor economic times causing havoc for many of our neighbors and family members outside of health care.

Just the other day I overheard a coworker in the nurse’s lounge say, “Well, I’ll never be a millionaire, but I’ll always have a job.”

I’ve been considering that statement for the past few days, and to be honest, I don’t see any reason why most nurses can’t retire with that million dollars most seem to think is so elusive. I’m going to spoil the story and tell the ending first and then give you the details so you can consider your own situation.

I expect my hospital is fairly average when it comes to retirement benefits, so I’ll assume yours is similar. Take a 30 year old nurse at my hospital earning $35 per hour and working three 12 hours shifts per week, and take $126 per pay check out for retirement, by age 60 this will likely grow to over $1,000,000.

$126 out of your paycheck and you end up a millionaire.

This next part is for those of you not interested in the details and simply wanting to take the 15 minutes to put the plan in to action and never think about personal finance or investing again. Nothing fancy here and no worries, and it doesn’t involve sending me money.

My hospital has a 401a as well as a 403b plan for retirement. The hospital automatically puts 1% of an employees pay into the 401a account and will then match employee contributions up to 3%. So I give 3% to the 401a and the hospital gives me 4% for a total of 7% of my salary going to retirement. So step 1, find out if your employer offers a matching plan for retirement, this is free money and no matter what your situation you should take advantage of this. Contribute as much as possible to get the matching funds. Step 2, the magic number is 10% of salary for a nurse as described above. So you need to put another 3% into the retirement account. In the case of my hospital this can go into the 403b account, the government will not take taxes out of the paycheck for this amount. Because the hospital chips in the matching funds to the 401a and the government gives a tax break with the 403b, each paycheck is only reduced by $126 dollars, but $252 dollars is contributed to the retirement account. And when started young enough to give 30 years for it to grow, the opportunity to become a millionaire is very real.

That’s the magic formula, 10% of a nurse’s paycheck goes to retirement equals retire a millionaire. But it’s important to understand, time is not you your side. The most important piece of this is the nurse has 30 years to see the money grow. If you wait, the amount of money needed to contribute starts rising quickly. A nurse age 35 will need to contribute 16% or $227 out of each paycheck to reach that million at age 60. And Starting at age 40 will require 27% or $413 per check.
An now for those of you who like the fine print and would like to see just how we arrived at our nurse retiring on a tropical island. Actually it is pretty straight forward.

1. Pay rate of $35 per hour working 36 hours per week. Higher pay or working overtime gets you to a million quicker.

2. 10% of pay goes to retirement until you get to a million. So as salary goes up, the percentage remains the same but a few more dollars are invested.

3. We assume an average 3% pay raise per year.

4. We assume an inflation rate of 3%, this is the historic average.

5. We assume an average annual rate of return of 8% after fees and expenses from the retirement plan. This is the most common number used for projecting long term stock market returns, and this is the area we have the least assurance of. Changing this number up or down changes our chances for reaching a million the most.

6. We assume the 401a contribution is after taxes and the 403b is before taxes, and a federal tax rate of 25% and state tax rate of 8%. Along with the hospital match, this is why each paycheck $252 dollars goes to retirement but your paycheck is only reduced by $126 dollars. A different hospital match or different tax rate will change the difference between what comes out of your check and what goes into your investment account.

An Operating Room Nurse’s Guide to Travel Nursing

Are you ready for some adventure? Perhaps soak up some sun with a California Travel Nursing Assignment, or live in the big city Travel Nursing in Boston. This article will provide some of the information you need to make your best career decision.

The Benefits of Travel Nursing:
The Pay is Good – In addition to a competitive salary you will receive a generous housing stipend. Imagine sipping your morning coffee in a café while travel nursing in Seattle a few feet from your furnished apartment which you don’t pay a cent for. Or if you choose not to take the free apartment, you will receive a tax free living stipend. Tax free should put a smile on your face. It’s no secret; nurses are earning pretty good money these days. And if you’ve looked at your paycheck, you’ll see Uncle Sam has also noticed and is taking his fair share. But not so with your housing stipend, no taxes means all this money stays in your pocket, at least until you spend it.

Obviously the opportunity to travel and see the country is one advantage of being a travel nurse. But in addition, having nursing experience from multiple facilities and locations will only help to make you a better informed and more well rounded nurse. Plus it’s a great way to give a hospital or a new city a trial run without the commitment of taking a fulltime position.

The Downside to Travel Nursing:
Travel Nurses are expected to hit the ground running. I have often found it strange that hospitals require lengthy orientations for new employees yet put travel nurses into rooms with very little or no orientation. As a travel nurse you must be comfortable with a new environment and with less support from day one as a new employee to a hospital.

In addition, chances are you won’t be able to accrue the same kind of benefits a long term employee will have. Annual raises, vacation time, paid sick time, hospital bonus and hospital scholarships just to mention a few.

There are many things to consider before embarking on a Travel Nursing adventure, more than have been discussed here. If you are interested in traveling, I suggest reading the site below. Mark discusses many of the questions you need to ask before making any commitments.

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More Procedures
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Tips For Learning the Surgical Instruments

If you are new to the operating room or need to learn about surgical instruments, congratulations and welcome. You’ve come to the right spot!

Being scrubbed in for surgery the first time can be quite nerve wracking and even scary. Wearing a mask and sterile gown, most people feel a bit claustrophobic and are afraid of accidentally contaminating something. Don’t worry, it’s normal, everyone feels this way. There’s a lot to learn.

The best way to become familiar with the surgical instruments is by holding them and getting to know them first hand. Actually go into the OR or the sterile processing department and get one of the basic instrument sets. Find a partner, either a fellow student or someone who knows the instruments already, such as a preceptor. Lay out the instruments on the back table and have one person play the role of the Scrub and the other play the part of the surgeon.

The surgeon then calls for the various instruments to be passed. So for instance, when the surgeon says, “Kelly”; the scrub will find the “Kelly” clamp and pass it to the surgeon. Not only does this help you learn the name of the instrument, it’s also good practice in passing the instrument properly and immediately ready for use.

So what about when you don’t have the Operating Room and Sterile Processing Department at your finger tips? The “Surgical Instrument Guide” and the “Surgical Instrument Quiz Book” is the next best thing. The OR can be overwhelming and there is a lot to learn. But the Guide and Quiz book are specifically designed to teach you the instruments you need to know for the basic General, Orthopedic, GYN, Neurologic and Vascular surgeries you are most likely to encounter in your first months in the Operating Room.

The Surgical Instrument Guide divides the instruments into their various specialties and then teaches the name, function and common nicknames of instruments to make sure you aren’t left confused when a surgeon calls for a “snap” instead of its proper name “kelly”.

The Surgical Instrument Quiz book then takes the learning process one step further and gives the surgical instruments to you in a fun interactive quiz format so you’ll be ready to impress from day one in the Operating Room.

More Instruments
More Procedures
The Expanded Surgical Instrument Guide
Only $11.95