How do I Become a Circulating Nurse?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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Circulating nurses are essential members of a surgical team. They are responsible for preparing operating rooms and observing patients during surgeries, alerting doctors if complications arise. Since the job requires extensive knowledge of patient care procedures, a person who wants to become a circulating nurse usually needs to gain several years of experience in other nursing positions to prepare for the responsibilities of the position. In general, a bachelor's degree, success on a registered nurse licensing exam, and practical training in an emergency room or a critical care unit are needed to find work as a circulating nurse.

An individual who wants to become a circulating nurse can develop technical and personal skills in a four-year nursing program at an accredited university. Some hospitals and community colleges offer two-year programs to prepare new nurses, but most future circulating nurses choose to pursue bachelor's degrees to improve their resumes and their understanding of the job. An undergraduate usually takes classes in medical technology, patient care procedures, math, anatomy, and biology. In addition, many schools offer specialized classes in surgical nursing for students who are interested in perioperative and circulating nurse professions.


Nursing students often have the opportunity to work as interns at local hospitals while pursuing their degrees. A person who wants to become a circulating nurse usually has the option to spend most of an internship in surgical settings, observing procedures and learning about the role of perioperative professionals. Upon graduation, he or she can take a national licensing test to earn registered nurse credentials. Since new nurses are in high demand in most regions, entry-level opportunities for recent graduates are typically plentiful.

Most new nurses begin their careers in emergency rooms, ambulatory care units, and general hospitals. A professional who wants to become a circulating nurse can be exposed to many different types of patients and conditions, learning about emergency medical and surgical procedures. He or she can find out about perioperative opportunities by asking practicing nurses and hospital administrators. In many regions, a nurse needs to complete continuing education courses and a certain number of hours of general nursing experience before he or she can join a surgical team.

When a person does get the chance to begin attending surgeries, experienced nurses can explain the details of the job. A new circulating nurse generally works under supervision for several months, gradually earning more responsibilities. After working for about two years, an individual can take a voluntary certification exam to earn official circulating nurse credentials.


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Post 4

It can be a little overwhelming when you are trying to decide which area of nursing to pursue. There also doesn't seem to be a shortage of RN jobs out there.

I am a registered nurse, and there are many advantages to this job, one being you can go just about anywhere in the country and be able to get a good job.

I have been thinking about applying for a circulating nurse position at the hospital where I currently work.

This job would be quite an increase in pay for me, and would also be better hours than what I currently have.

To be honest, the biggest thing that is holding me back is the

contact I have with my patients. For me, this is the most rewarding and worthwhile part of my job.

I have a hard time imagining what it would be like if my patients were under anesthesia most of the time.

Of course there are always frustrating days when I am ready to do something else, but most of the time I really enjoy giving the day to day care.

I have all the education and experience needed to be a circulating nurse, I just need to decide if this is for me or not.

Post 3

@jonrss - A lot of things depend on experience, but a typical circulating nurse can expect to make around $60,000 - $70,000 a year. It may be more or less depending on where you live and how much experience you have.

To become a circulating nurse, you will need to have experience before applying for a job like this. This would not usually be your first job after graduating.

My sister has worked as a nurse for many years, and as a circulatory nurse for the last 5 years. If you do not want a lot of patient contact, this is one position that you may want to think about.

After all the years of being on the floor, she has found this job to be challenging and rewarding in a different way. Sometimes she misses the day to to contact with the patients, but was also ready for something different.

Post 2

So where does a circulating nurse fit in on the nurse hierarchy. By that I mean, how does this job compare to other nursing jobs in terms of education required and pay expected?

I have been thinking of becoming a nurse for a long time but now that I am finally ready to do it I am finding myself kind of overwhelmed with all of my choices. There are just so many kinds of nursing jobs and so many ways to prepare yourself for them. I will be honest, I am not entering nursing because I love caring for people, I am entering nursing because I want a steady, well paying job.

Post 1

Surgeons often get all the credit and definitely get all the money, but in many ways the work that circulating nurses do is just as important as what the surgeon does. Surgery is about more than just the period of time when you are cut open and the surgeon has his hands inside your body. The period before and after is crucial for ensuring an effective procedure and a safe recovery.

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