Could you become a reconstructive surgery nurse?

July 22, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Reconstructive surgery is a type of plastic surgery in that it involves the restoration or reconstruction of physical parts of a person’s body. The big difference between the two is that reconstructive surgery is usually performed not only to make a person more attractive but primarily to help improve the function of certain body parts, most commonly the face.

The main aim of reconstructive surgery is to correct deformities such as cleft palate or facial bone fractures caused by traumatic injuries, genetic abnormalities, severe burns and other illnesses and injuries.

A reconstructive surgery nurse focuses on assisting reconstructive surgeons and caring for their patients before, during and after any type of reconstructive surgery.

Detailed Job Description

Pre-surgery duties of a nurse in this specialty involve conducting a thorough assessment of the patient using X-Rays, ultrasounds and other specific methods depending on the type of procedure that the patient will be undergoing. This is to determine the feasibility and safety of the surgery.

Pre-surgery responsibilities also include prepping patients for surgery and educating patients about the procedure and what precautions need to be taken.

Reconstructive surgery nurses are present during the procedure as well. They sterilise and set up equipment and tools needed for surgery, help administer anaesthesia and assist the surgeon by handing them the required tools and performing basic surgical tasks. They are also responsible for monitoring patients during the procedure to ensure they remain stable.

These nursing professionals play a key role in caring for patients after their reconstructive surgical procedure as well. Reconstructive surgery nurses monitor patients till they come out of aesthesia and help ensure that they remain stable. They also administer medications, change dressings and assist patients with everyday tasks, such as dressing and bathing.

Getting patients ready to go home is also part of a reconstructive surgery nurse’s responsibility. This involves showing the patient and their family members how to care for wounds and how to change bandages and dressings. They also give patients daily living tips on what to do and what not to do after they go home.

Workplace Settings

The majority of nurses in this speciality work alongside plastic surgeons in hospitals and private clinics. They typically work in the operating room and recovery room settings in hospitals but may also work in the office in private clinics.

Education & Training

In order to practice as a reconstructive surgery nurse, you will first need to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, which could take about 4 to 6 years. It is a good idea to take several courses in general surgery and patient recovery while you are earning your nursing degree.

After you’ve earned your degree, you will then need to pass the proper licensure examination to become either a registered nurse or and advanced practice nurse. To be eligible to take the certification examination, you will need to have at least 2 years of nursing experience in a plastic surgery setting within the five years prior to taking the examination.

A career in this field requires dedication, passion and an excellent attention to detail. This is a great option to consider if you have the necessary attributes and are interested in helping people gain or regain normal function and also helping boost their confidence by making them more attractive. Witnessing a positive change in somebody and knowing that you played a key role in their recovery can be immensely satisfying.

If you’re looking to make sure nursing is right for you before committing to a full degree, consider completing some work experience in a nursing setting. 



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.