Orthopedic Nursing

  • Article by: NANCY GIGUERE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: June 24, 2009 - 3:27 PM

Practitioners of this specialty care for patients with musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. They work in a wide variety of settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and home health.

Orthopedic nursing was one of the first modern nursing specialities.  Its founder, Agnes Hunt, was an English woman disabled in childhood by sceptic arthritis, and untreatable condition in the 19th century.  Trained as a nurse, she devoted herself to bettering the lives of disabled children and adults.  In 1900, she opened a hospital devoted to orthepedic care.  After the outbreak of World War I, she treate wounded souldiers.

Today's orthepedic nurses care for patients with musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.  They work in a wide variety of settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and home health.  Their areas of practice include emergency and trauma care, surgery, pediatrics, gerentology, oncology and rehabilitation. 

Caring for Kids
Janet Bazzachini is a certified orthepedic nurse in the medical/surgical unit of Gillette Children Healthcare in St. Paul.  She care for patients with conditions like cerebral palsy, scoliosis, spina bifada, clubfoot, and complex fractures. 

Patient education is an important component of her work.  For instance, she and her collegues help patients adapt to a cast.  "We teach children and their families how to care for the cast - how to keep it clean and dry, avoid cracks and keep the skin underneath healthy, " Bazzachini says.  "We also teach families pain management techniques for home."

Rewarding Work
Six to eight weeks after surgery, patients return to Gillette to have their casts removed and be fitted for braces.  Nurses play an important role in follow-up care, collaborating with families, physicians, physical and occupational therapists, orthodists, and other professionals. 

"This is rewarding work," Bazzachini says.  "We build close relationships with our patients because many of them will have multiple surguries at Gillette.  Some can't walk when we first see them.  Then months or years later, they stop by just to say 'hi.'"

  • Specialty Certification

    To be eligible for certification by the orthopedic nurses certification board, candidates must have:

    • A current RN Licence.
    • Two full years of nursing practice.
    • 1,000 hours of work experience as an RN in orthepedic nursing practice within the past three years.

    Learn more at www.orthonurse.org.

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