orthopedic nurse

Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Career

An orthopedic nurse practitioner’s job description includes managing the care of patients who suffer from a range of musculoskeletal conditions. From prescribing medications for the pain of a broken bone to analyzing x-rays of a hip replacement, orthopedic nurse practitioners take care of patients with bone, joint, and muscle problems from all populations. An orthopedic nurse practitioner would be expected to conduct physical exams on such patients, take detailed patient histories, prescribe tests and treatments, and analyze those tests and treatments. Orthopedic nurse practitioners work closely with physicians and nursing staff to coordinate patients’ care from the time of injury to discharge. Orthopedic nurse practitioners can work in physicians’ offices, clinics, and hospitals.

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Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Salary

An orthopedic nurse practitioner’s salary is estimated at $70,000 per year, but that figure is dependent on experience, location, certification, and venue.

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Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Education

To become an orthopedic nurse practitioner, a student must complete a master’s-level nurse practitioner program that offers an orthopedics specialty. The course work of the master’s program prepares an orthopedic nurse practitioner candidate to pass a certification exam administered by the American Nursing Credentialing Center. To be eligible to test, candidates must have a current registered nurse (RN) license, a post-graduate degree from an accredited adult nurse practitioner education program, and at least 500 supervised clinical hours. The certification examination will evaluate the student’s knowledge of advanced physiology, health assessment and pharmacology.

In addition to the required certification exam for nurse practitioners, some orthopedic nurse practitioners opt for national certification through the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board to obtain the ONP-C® (Orthopaedic Nurse Practitioner – Certified) designation. This is a value-added credential which demonstrates specialty expertise. To sit for the exam, candidates must have a valid RN license, three years of experience as an RN, a master’s degree or higher in advanced nursing, have at least 2,500 hours of orthopedic nursing practice in the prior three years, and must currently be employed as a nurse practitioner in an orthopedic setting.

Curriculum and Core Classes

Programs that offer the area of concentration in orthopedics lead to either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a PhD. Admissions criteria will vary somewhat from university to university. In general, all nurse practitioner education programs require students to have a current RN certification in the state they will be attending school (or at least be eligible for certification), and at least two years of relevant work experience in a clinical setting. Some universities and colleges may require specific course requirements in fields such as nursing or statistics and a minimum score on the GRE. Most universities require a 3.0 GPA. The curriculum typically includes lecture and clinical orthopedics training in areas such as emergency treatment of conditions and rehabilitation. Simulated events are typically part of the curriculum to give degree candidates hands-on experience.

For universities and colleges that do not specifically offer the subspecialty of orthopedics in their MSN program, prospective students should consult with school officials to determine the best course of study to obtain clinical experience in the orthopedic setting in order to sit for the national ONP-C certification (if this credential is desired).

Program Length

Students who enroll in a full-time occupational health nurse practitioner education program can expect to graduate in approximately two years, depending on how quickly the clinical hours can be completed. Alternatively, RNs who wish to earn the PhD instead of the MSN may attend classes and clinicals for an additional period of time, depending on the specific program requirements. Part-time options are traditionally available depending upon the college or university.

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Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Certification

OrthopaedicNursingCertificationBoard (ONCB)

Type of Certification: Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner – Certified (ONP-C)

Eligibility Requirements: Nurses must hold a valid RN license.

Certification Process: Nurses can complete the online application or download the candidate handbook and apply via mail. Once they are deemed eligible to test, applicants can take the exam in March, May, August, and November. Further instructions come with the authorization to test.

Fees: $405 for non-members

Renewal Process: Certification is valid for five years. Recertification requires 100 contact hours and a current RN license.

Learn about other advanced practice nursing specialties.

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State Nursing Certification Information