In Demand: Plastic Surgeon Nurse

Assisting surgeons with procedures, treatment and patient recovery.

Jim Williams

HealthKey.com contributor

June 7, 2010


Nurses are, arguably, the backbone of the health-care industry. And, in the realm of plastic surgery, they are equally critical to both surgeons and the patients they serve. Plastic Surgery Nurses provide patient care and surgical assistance before, during and after cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in an array of work settings. With 6 years of education - including 2 years of on-the-job experience, professional licensing and a certification exam - a professional in the Plastic Surgery Nursing profession can enjoy high potential earnings and diverse day-to-day responsibilities.

What They Do

For many patients who undergo some form of cosmetic surgery, it's the plastic surgeon nurse with whom they are most likely to spend the most time with. These specialized registered nurses provide patient care and surgical assistance before, during and after cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in an array of work settings.

As licensed RNs, they are highly trained, but also certified in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. These nurses help patients who are dealing with everything from cosmetic procedures to reconstructive treatments for victims of burns and other injuries. Like registered nurses of all kinds, plastic surgeon nurses have job opportunities in hospitals, private clinics and outpatient care centers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Qualifications and Education

Plastic surgery nurses must first earn a nursing degree; most pursue bachelor of science in nursing, though some begin by participating in a one-year licensing program through a hospital, community college or vocational school to become licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses. To practice, RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Then, the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nursing requires that licensed RNs have two or more years of experience in plastic surgery nursing and spend at least 50 percent of their practice hours in the field for two years immediately preceding the ASPSN certification exam.

Compensation and Demand

The BLS projects that registered nurses, including plastic surgery nurses, will see more nursing jobs generated over the next 5 to 6 years than almost any other profession, and an increasing demand for cosmetic surgeries indicates that plastic surgery nursing will grow accordingly.

The average salary for a registered nurse, according to Salary.com, ranges from $55,000 to $62,000 per year, with some plastic surgery nurses enjoying even higher earnings, depending on experience and place of employment.