Certified Plastic Surgery Nurse Education Requirements

Sep 10, 2019

Plastic surgery nurses require significant formal education. Learn about degree programs, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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To become a plastic surgery nurse, student must first become a licensed RN and can choose to take a number of supplementary courses that cover the many aspects of plastic surgery, such as burn and reconstruction surgery, liposuction, and patient recovery. The following information will give the specific requirements to become a plastic surgery nurse and detail any licensure requirements.

Essential Information

Registered nurses (RNs) with experience in plastic surgery have the option of earning professional certification as certified plastic surgery nurses. To become an RN, they must complete a diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree program in nursing and gain RN licensing in their state. After gaining at least two years of experience in plastic surgery nursing, they can take the voluntary plastic surgery nursing certification examination. Some nurses also pursue specialty training in plastic surgery nursing through a postgraduate program.

Required Education Diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing
Requirements for Certification RN license and two years of experience as a plastic surgery nurse, including 1,000 practice hours over two of the past three years
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 12% (for all RNs)*
Median Salary (2018) $71,730 (for all RNs)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Plastic Surgery Nurse Certification Requirements

Voluntary certification for plastic surgery nurses is offered by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board, part of the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses. To be eligible to test for national recognition as a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN), applicants must meet three criteria. First, they must have current licensure as an RN in either the United States or Canada. Also, during two of the past three years, applicants must have at least 1,000 hours of experience in plastic surgical nursing as an RN, either in general staff, administration, research or teaching. They need at least two years total of plastic surgical experience.

Education Requirements

Becoming an RN

To become an RN, students must earn a diploma, a 2-year associate's degree or a 4-year bachelor's degree in nursing. These programs often include studies in anatomy and physiology, biology, health assessment and basic pharmacology, as well as numerous supervised clinical experiences.

Every state requires prospective nurses to undergo licensing before they are allowed to practice in a hospital or other health care facility. In addition to meeting education requirements, RN applicants must pass the National Council Licensure Examination -Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Other requirements vary by state.

Plastic Surgery Nursing Courses

Full programs in reconstructive or plastic surgery nursing aren't available; however, courses in this specialty are often included in postgraduate RN First Assistant and nurse practitioner programs.

Students in these classes learn to conduct pre- and post-operative assessments, observe plastic surgery patients' recovery and provide patients with pre- and post-operative instructions. Specific topics covered in plastic surgery nurse training might include the following:

  • Burns and plastic surgery nursing
  • Liposuction nursing procedures
  • Aftercare for reconstructive surgery to the head and neck
  • Recovery and care for breast augmentation
  • Nursing techniques for abdomen patients
  • Medical terminology in plastic surgery nursing

While it is not possible to choose a degree program focusing on plastic surgery, nursing programs may include courses or electives with a plastic surgery emphasis. It is required to be registered and licensed as an RN, but certification as a plastic surgery nurse is optional. To become certified as a plastic surgery nurse, an applicant must be a registered nurse with 1,000 hours and at least 2 years of plastic surgery experience.

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