A look at a career as a reconstructive surgery nurse

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Reconstructive surgery is a surgical speciality that involves the reconstruction or restoration of a physical part of a person’s body. It is a type of plastic surgery but with a difference – it is more than about simply improving a person’s looks. Reconstructive surgery is often performed in order to correct deformities caused by several different factors, from accidents and injuries to genetic abnormalities. Many patients who opt to undergo these procedures do not do so only for aesthetic reasons. More often than not they have to, purely for functional reasons.

Also known as plastic surgery nurses, reconstructive surgery nurses are licensed registered nurses (RNs) with additional certification in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. A career as a plastic surgery nurse involves prepping patients for the surgery, assisting surgeons with various procedures and caring for patients during their recovery. These nurses care for patients who are dealing with everything, from cosmetic procedures to reconstructive treatments for victims of burns and other injuries.

Students observing surgery inside the operating theatre in Tanzania. Detailed Job Function

Assessing a patient prior to their reconstructive surgery procedure typically involves conductive an in-depth physical examination. In many cases, to ensure that the surgery is safe and feasible, internal images, such as x-rays and ultrasounds, also need to be examined before the actual surgery is done.

As a reconstructive surgery nurse, you would also do the task of prepping patients for surgery, advising patients on what to do and what not to do before the procedure and for sterilising and setting up equipment and tools needed for the surgery.

You would also be present during the surgeries where you may be required to assist surgeons by handing them tools when necessary and performing basic surgical tasks. You would also be in charge of monitoring your patients to ensure they remain stable during surgical procedures.

Reconstructive surgery nurses play an key role in caring for patients after the procedure as well. They monitor the patient them until they come out of anaesthesia and ensure that they remain stable. These nurses will also need to administer medications, change dressings and assist patients with everyday tasks, such as bathing and dressing.

As a reconstructive surgery nurse, you will also be responsible for getting patients ready to go home. This includes demonstrating how to care for wounds and change bandages and dressings and giving their patients daily living tips.

Like registered nurses of all kinds, plastic surgery nurses have job opportunities in hospitals, outpatient care centres and private clinics where they work alongside plastic surgeons.

Education & Training Requirements

To practice as a reconstructive surgery nurse, you will first need to earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. While you’re earning this degree, you should take various courses in general surgery and patient recovery.

Once 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 with at least two years of nursing experience in a plastic surgery setting within the prior five years to taking the examination.

Skills Needed

Plastic surgery nurses must possess a high degree of sensitivity to the patient’s needs, excellent interpersonal skills and an ability to communicate effectively with surgeons and patients. Because plastic surgery nursing is a multidisciplinary field that includes various operations ranging from face-lifts and liposuction to burn treatment and facial reconstruction, a comprehensive knowledge of reconstructive and cosmetic surgical procedures is essential, along with an ability to learn and adapt new techniques quickly.

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