Ortho Nurse Duties: What Does An Orthopedic Nurse Do?

by | Feb 9, 2021 | Ortho Nursing | 0 comments

Learn all about the responsibilities and ortho nursing duties. This is what an orthopedic nurse does every shift.

Types Of Patients Ortho Nurses Care For

Orthopedic nurses care for a wide range of patients. These are the most common types of patients you will care for as an ortho nurse.

  • Recovering from hip replacement surgery
  • Knee replacements
  • Severe fractures that needed to be surgically fixed
  • Spine procedures
  • Traumas

Essentially, you are taking care of patients after surgery.

Ortho Nurse Duties: What Does An Orthopaedic Nurse Do?

Ortho Nurse Duties

Now that you know what types of patients you will be caring for, let’s look closely at how you will be caring for them. What does an ortho nurse do?

#1 Pain Management After Surgery

All of these patients are recovering from pretty major surgeries, so they will need your help to manage the pain efficiently.

Knee replacement and back surgeries come with different kinds of pain but both of them are very serious amounts of pain that require intervention.

There is no way to recover from these major surgeries without pain, and it is your job as the nurse to help them manage it.

The physicians will order the medication, but you as the nurse will be responsible for giving it to the patient on a specific schedule. You will also need to follow up to make sure the medicine is working like it is supposed to.

#2 Collaborate With Medical Staff

You will also be working closely with surgeons, their advanced practitioners such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants (and even residents).

You will need to collaborate with them and know their preferences. You might have some surgeons that want you to care for the patient in a specific way after the knee replacement surgery and then a different surgeon will want different things.

It’s your job as the nurse to learn their preferences and how they want you to care for the patients after they do the surgeries. You should also understand why they have those preferences so you know how to care best for the patient.

#3 Ortho Nurse Duties: Work Closely With Physical and Occupational Therapy

You will also be working closely with both OT and PT to help the patient recover.

Orthopedic procedures really impair a patient’s ability to take care of themselves. It might be difficult for them to do things like walking to the restroom or sitting on the toilet or even feeding themselves.

There are going to be a lot of specific goals they will have to reach before they are discharged and sent home. Pain management ties in very closely with those goals.

Therapy is going to be ordered on all of your patients, and you will have to coordinate your pain management with them. Make sure it coincides with when they will be working with your patient.

You also need to make sure that any resources that are set up for discharge also go with the therapist’s recommendations.

This can be kind of a complex process.

#4 Ensuring A Safe Discharge Home

Even though the physicians do their rounds with the patients, you are there the most and know the most about the patients. So if your patient does not appear safe to go home or there are concerns that the physician isn’t aware of then it is your job to communicate those.

You will be working closely with case management and social work as well as therapy services and the physician to make sure that the patient can go home and will do ok.

These orthopedic surgeries only keep the patients for about 1-2 nights. Most of the patients will go home to recover. It’s your job to make sure they not only have all the resources they need but that you educate the patient as well.

When you educate the patient, reinforce the orders from the physician and the therapists. Make sure they know who to call with questions and that they have everything with them.

Ortho Nurse Duties Video:

More Resources for Ortho Nurse Duties:

Ortho STRONG: Crash Course For New Ortho Nurses

If you want to learn more about this job so you are more convincing in the interview, check out this ultimate resource for new ortho nurses.

Ortho Strong

Ortho STRONG is written by a phenomenal nurse practitioner who works with some of the best ortho surgeons in the country. She put everything that she learned into this course. It is highly valuable.

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Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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