Orthopedic problems are among the leading reasons that patients seek help from a primary care physician or specialist. They are also one of the leading causes of work disability. Because these problems are so prevalent in society, orthopedic nurse practitioners are in high demand. An orthopedic nurse practitioner is an advanced nursing certification, acquired after years of experience, that brings greater responsibilities and higher pay.
Orthopedic nurse practitioners help patients alleviate musculoskeletal problems that affect the bones and muscles. These can include bone fractures, arthritis, joint problems, genetic issues, surgery and physical therapy to regain mobility. Orthopedic nurse practitioners can work in emergency rooms, nursing homes, doctor's offices or even on sports teams. A nurse with this certification has a wide variety of work options from which to choose.
The first step to becoming an orthopedic nurse practitioner is being certified as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). This requires getting a bachelor of science degree, preferably in nursing. You must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination to be a certified RN or LPN.
Obtaining a ONP-C (Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner certificate) requires a combination of advanced education and training. You must have a master's degree in nursing from an accredited school within the United States. You must also have three years of work experience as a practicing RN or the equivalent. If you already are certified as an orthopedic nurse, which requires working as an RN for two years, you only need 1,500 hours of advance practice hours. If you do not have an orthopedic nurse certification, you will need 2,500 hours of advance practice. (
The test to be certified as an orthopedic nurse practitioner isn't easy. It's a three-hour test with 150 multiple choice questions. The test covers tumors, neuromuscular issues, degenerative disorders, trauma, sports injuries, inflammatory disorders, metabolic bone disorders and childhood/congenital diseases. The test also covers your ability to handle issues as a clinician, an educator, a manager and a researcher.
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