I’m approached frequently by people wanting to know about getting into a career as a plastic surgeon. I’ve even written on the subject here, but only recently was I asked about a career as a nurse within a plastic surgeon’s office. So in the interest of fair play, here is what I know about this field and how you can get into it.
First, let me state that this is a worthwhile career goal to pursue. After all, cosmetic surgery is growing in popularity across the country and even in other nations. While cosmetic surgery was once the exclusive domain of the wealthy, today, all lifestyles and income levels seek out plastic surgery procedures. Because of this, not only is there a growing demand for surgeons, but for the nurses who assist them, as well.
Maybe I’m biased, but I think that nurses who specialize in the plastic surgery field experience something that many other nurses don’t: a positive outcome on most of the cases where they serve. No matter the circumstances that bring a patient into the surgeon’s office, almost all leave looking better and feeling better about their lives than they did prior to the visit. What a feeling of accomplishment this is for the surgeon and the nurse who assists her!
On the other hand, this is not a job for those with weak stomachs. You’re likely to see lots of blood and inside the skin and other areas that many other nurses never see, if you pursue this line of work.
So what do you need to get into the field? First, you must have a background in critical care and the operating room. You also must be ACLS certified. The basic steps to becoming a plastic surgery nurse:
1) Get the necessary training. To become a plastic surgery nurse, you’ll usually need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). although many RNs also are able to get into the field. 2) After you get your degree, you’ll need to become licensed. This means passing the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. After this, you need to earn your wings by getting some entry-level nursing under your belt. This means working wherever you can, just so you can say on your resume that you’ve already done some nursing. 3) Once you have this real-world experience, you can start zeroing in on plastic surgery. Look for a position where at least 50 percent of your time is devoted to patients undergoing cosmetic procedures. You need at least two years of this kind of experience to qualify for your certificate as a plastic surgery nurse. 4) Which means the final step is to take the certification exam administered by the ASPN (American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses), to get the credentials that will open doors for you for the rest of your career.