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Orthopedic Nurse Role Evolves as Surgeries Move to Outpatient Settings

Nurse.com interviews Barbara A. Kahn, BSN, ONC, OR nurse at HSS about the changes in the role of orthopedic nurses and the skill set required for optimal patient care.

Since many common orthopedic surgeries have moved from acute care to the ambulatory setting, today’s orthopedic nurses focus more on teaching. They’re also building patient confidence that they can safely go home the day of surgery and following through to make sure patients are taking their medications, taking care of their wounds, and elevating their extremities — whatever they need to do at home to avoid a complication, according to Kahn. “Now it is the nurse who is going to do the preop, the intra-op, the hospitalization (if patients are hospitalized), and the postop,” she explained.

Nurses with a keen interest in how the body works — such as how bones and muscles interact, posture, and how people move — will likely enjoy this nursing specialty. “I walk down the city streets and watch everybody walk,” cited Kahn. “If somebody is limping, I diagnose them. I watch football because I want to get the injury before it’s announced. I think it’s very important that you have that kind of desire.” 

The Nurse.com orthopedic nurse certification review course includes reviews on the anatomy, orthopedic assessments, medical complications, metabolic bone conditions, tumor disorders, and pediatric orthopedics. There is a lot to know for the certification exam, according to Kahn, and learning must go past orthopedics. “You need to know the medicine behind it, as well,” she noted. Orthopedic conditions can lead to blood clots or can be more complex due to rheumatoid arthritis and some autoimmune diseases, for example. “That gives you a whole different array of medications that you need to know about that can compromise the immune system or raise blood pressure. You really need to have a good medical background,” said Kahn.

Read the full article at Nurse.com.