How Do You Become a Plastic Surgery Nurse?

Of all the different specialized healthcare fields that registered nurses (RN) have the option of entering, plastic surgery is one of the more academically demanding options. An RN may be permitted to conduct some plastic surgery nursing practices without being officially certified, but a fully certified plastic surgery nurse will have access to a much larger pool of potential employment opportunities.

Education and Experience Requirements

The highly sensitive and risk-heavy nature of surgical procedures creates a high need for extensive education in those licensed to carry it out. Those who want to pursue full certification as plastic surgery nurses must acquire a bachelors, associate’s or diploma specifically in nursing. Aside from enrolling in college and acquiring a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing before attempting to gain professional experience, one may also apply to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) to gain years of facility-based experience before attempting to earn their BSN degree.

Following graduation, one must pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). The examination requires a strong level of familiarity with both basic and advanced concepts of the biological, physiological, pharmacological and anatomical sciences. After becoming an RN, aspiring plastic surgery nurses will need to accumulate at least two years of professional nursing experience in the field of plastic surgery before being considered eligible candidates for full certification through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). A qualifying RN who intends on taking the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nursing (ASPSN) exam must complete their two years of relevant on-the-job experience immediately before attempting it.

Within the two required years of necessary plastic surgery nursing experience, there will need to be at least 1,000 logged hours of practice. Aspiring plastic surgery nurses should ensure that they’re consistently and accurately keeping track of each hour of plastic surgery nursing practice that they log.

Specialized Postgraduate Training Courses

Some RNs may elect to go a step beyond simply attempting the certification exam after accumulating the necessary experience. An RN may choose to enroll in an optional posgraduate RN program designed to give participants more knowledge in a variety of practice fields, plastic surgery included. Though many postgraduate skill enrichment courses offered to RNs do cover the topic plastic surgery nursing, there are no RN programs that are specifically focused on rigorous plastic surgery training. Nevertheless, some aspiring plastic surgery nurses may still find something of value to take away from general postgraduate courses that do contain plastic surgery nursing material in the curriculum.

While it isn’t necessary to take an auxiliary postgraduate course to pass the plastic surgery certification exam, those who do may benefit from more conceptual and hands-on familiarity with responsibilities of a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN).

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Transplant Nurse?

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the most likely job growth rate for plastic surgery nurses by the year 2024 is 16 percent. In terms of annual salary, the BLS reports that the median salary for registered plastic surgery nurses is approximately $67,500.