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Scrub Nurse Training and Certificate Program Information

Perioperative nurses, sometimes called scrub nurses, care for patients undergoing surgical procedures. Research certificate and training programs for aspiring scrub nurses. Learn about education prerequisites, courses and career options to make an informed decision on your education.

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Essential Information

Most scrub nurses receive their surgical nursing training as part of their registered nursing (RN) education. However, a few schools offer certificate programs in scrub nursing, often called perioperative nursing, that focus exclusively on this specialty. Applicants generally must possess an RN license, although a few programs will accept licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Most certificate programs in perioperative nursing prepare nurses to work in all phases of surgical care, from preoperative assessment to postoperative evaluation. These programs also train nurses to work as a surgeon's assistant during the operation. About five courses are called for, usually including an internship as a scrub nurse.

These programs may give new nurses a foundational knowledge of operating room procedures or help experienced nurses to qualify for professional certification in perioperative nursing. Certification usually calls for training and experience in perioperative nursing as well as passing a comprehensive exam.

Scrub Nurse Certificate

Training and certificate programs that focus exclusively on scrub nursing are rare. However, many schools do offer certificate programs in perioperative nursing, which can prepare individuals to work as both a scrub nurse and a circulating nurse. Through such a program, licensed and registered nurses can gain a foundational knowledge of the operating room.

Generally, a certificate program in perioperative (or scrub) nursing prepares students to provide continuous care to individuals undergoing surgical procedures. Some programs may provide students with the opportunity to complete a clinical nursing experience in the role of a scrub nurse. Typically, a scrub nurse's responsibility is to provide the surgeon with the correct instruments and supplies used during a procedure. Students may also gain experience in the circulation nurse role, which involves caring for a patient not only during a procedure, but also during the pre- and post-operative stages.

Education Prerequisites

To be admitted into the program, students should have their RN license. Some Scrub Nurse Certificate programs also accept licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Course Topics

Typically, coursework centers on teaching perioperative nursing techniques to students with minimal knowledge of operating room procedures. The curriculum may also offer students the ability to develop the capabilities to manage both people and resources with the operating room setting. Course topics in the program might include:

  • RN first assistant
  • Perioperative nursing theory
  • Health care management
  • Principles in perioperative nursing
  • Fundamentals of surgical care

Popular Career Options

Students may find themselves working closely with the patient and their family as well as other health care professionals involved in the procedure. Scrub nurses can work in a variety of health care settings including hospital surgical departments, out-patient surgical centers or a physician's office. Career options for a student interested in working as a scrub nurse might include:

  • Circulating nurse
  • PACU nurse
  • Pre-operation holding nurse

Continuing Education Information

A nurse interested in becoming certified in preoperative nursing might consider gaining certification through the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) or the Certification Board for Perioperative Nursing (CNOR). However, these certification programs might require individuals to gain a minimum number of years of experience in the perioperative nursing field before they can become certified.

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