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Operating Room CNA – Job Description, Salary and Job Outlook

After completion of your CNA course and obtaining nurse aide certificate, you can choose to work in a nursing home, hospice, assisted living centers, hospitals or any healthcare institute, under the supervision of a registered nurse. Most of the CNAs perform the similar tasks; however, their duties change according to the department they are working in. Here we have described the job description and salary of the nursing assistants working in the operating rooms.

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Education Requirements for Operating Room Nurse Aides

The aspirant must hold a high school diploma or equivalent qualification. In order to work as an operating room assistant, you need to enroll in a surgical technology program which takes 9 to 24 months to complete. This program is offered by hospitals, technical schools, or community colleges, and offer certificate, diploma or associate’s degree. You will be deemed eligible to appear for the certification exam only, if you have graduated from the program recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The certification exam is conducted by the NBSTSA (National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting). You receive CST (Certified Surgical Technologist) credential after qualifying the test. However, obtaining this certificate is not mandatory, but certified candidates are given preference by the employer.

Skills Required for Pursuing a Career as an Operating Room Nursing Assistant

  • A nurse assistant must have excellent personal skills, such as compassion, patience, ability to make a quick decision and think rationally.
  • You are expected to have knowledge of the basics of emergency procedures, understanding of how the equipment operates and which machine is used for a particular operation.
  • Before you become an operating room nursing assistant, you must first work as a nurse aide in a hospital to learn the basic responsibilities.

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Job Description of the Operating Room CNAs

Operating room nursing assistants work under the supervision of RNs and surgeons. They assist the surgeons while an operation is being performed. Their basic duty is to observe the patients’ vital signs and to provide the equipments necessary for the surgery. Besides this, they perform the below given tasks:

  • Ensuring that the operation theater and all the recovery rooms are clean and free from infection. The nursing assistants have to follow the health-care rules and regulations as specified by the county, state and the organization itself.
  • Cleaning and maintenance of all the equipments needed in the operation theater (OT).
  • Preparing the OT for surgery by making sure that all the tools and equipments required for the particular operation are available and arranged in a systematical order.
  • Making sure that all the prescribed drugs are kept in order, as well as monitoring and supervising the intake of intramuscular medications.
  • Overseeing the procedure of giving anesthesia and giving the surgeon updates of related equipments during the procedure.
  • After surgery, nursing assistants shift the patients to the recovery room and observe their vital signs.
  • Helping patients once they are conscious after the surgery.
  • Making sure that all the attachments to the body including oxygen mask (if applicable), are functioning properly.
  • After the surgery, it is the duty of the nursing assistant to make sure that all the tools used have been disinfected and sterilized before they are put away. Also, they must keep a record of all the tools used and replaced.
  • Other duties include collection of specimen, dressing of wounds, ensuring that the patient is comfortable, etc.

Job Outlook and Salary

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities for operating room technicians are anticipated to grow by 30%, between 2012 and 2022. This growth is attributed to increasing number of surgical centers and surgery cases.

According to, as of December 2014, the surgical technologists earned $28,561 – $54,184 per annum, and $13.62 – $25.00 per hour. The statistics of states that these professionals took home around $38,000 per annum in February 2015. As per the reports of the BLS, the mean annual and hourly income (as of May 2013) of surgical technologists was $44,420 and $21.36, respectively.

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