How Much Does The Scrub Nurse Make?

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It is a fact that nobody denies that “Nurses are a crucial part of the hospital without whom the hospital cannot run.” In the same way operation theater is also the department where qualified scrub nurses are needed to take care of patients in peri, during, and postoperative procedures. 

Who is the scrub nurse?

A scrub nurse is also known as a surgical nurse, operating room nurse, and perioperative nurse, who has expertise in operative nursing and serves the surgeon and other surgical staff members. They help in the operative room to ensure a smooth procedure by minimizing complications and continuously supporting a sterile field to the end of the procedure. 

Surgical nurses have a meaningful role in life-saving and improving patient health through surgery. Becoming a scrub nurse is a satisfying nurse specialization.

Being a scrub nurse is not an easy job because working during the day shift during the regular workweek in both the inpatient hospital and the outpatient surgery center. 

Sometimes surgical nurses are required to be “on-call” during the evenings, weekends, holidays, and nights for emergency surgery, which can occur 24 hours /7 a week.  In large settings, scrub nurses may also specialize in a particular type of surgery, like cardiac, orthopedic, ENT, or general.

Role of surgical nurse in operation theater

 Surgical nurses have a prominent role in preparing the operating room, patient, and surgical instruments for the operation. Some of the roles played by operating room nurses are;

  • Addresses the circulator nurse to manage the operating room and keep it sterile
  • Communicates with surgeons and sterile team throughout the procedure to ensure a successful operation
  • Analyzes potential complexities during the procedure and creates a plan of action should if the team has to take lifesaving measures
  • Stay on-call to be part of emergency surgery
scrub nurse

When a scrub nurse is sterile and wears a gown, he /she is not allowed to break sterility until the procedure ends, so they demand their needs from the circulating nurse or other circulating staff members.  

What skills do the scrub nurse possess?

Operative nurses have many responsibilities to ensure the welfare of their patients, for this purpose operative nurses, should possess.

  • Being a scrub nurse, he/she must be organized and prepared for the surgery and any possible complications during surgery. 
  • Scrub nurses should be detail-oriented, problem-solving, and have critical thinking skills to assure patient safety because small mistakes in the procedure can mean the difference between life and death. 
  • A surgical nurse must have good communication skills to be conscious of the needs of the surgeon and convey them to the circulating surgical team.  
  •  Surgical nurses must be excellent in team play because the collaboration of a surgical team keeps patients breathing. 

How to become a qualified, licensed, and expert scrub nurse?

To become a qualified, licensed, and expert scrub nurse, a person would have to take the following steps;

  • First obtains a graduate degree in nursing (BSN) or 2-year associate degree in nursing (ADN). The only difference between both the fields is that BSN allows more in-depth instruction into nursing specialties. 
  • Second, to obtain a registered nursing degree, a person can give the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed registered nurse.
  •  The Critical Care Nursing Certification (CCRN), Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR), and Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (MSNC) are some specialty certifications that provide the advanced expertise that needs to plan for dealing with surgeries, navigate emergencies, critical care, trauma settings.
  • Then practice for the scrub nurse position. Surgical nurses may choose further training to become a Registered Nurse First Assist (RNFA) to continue as part of an intraoperative team with more responsibility and higher pay.

How to apply for CNOR Certification?

The Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) certification is authorized by two agencies;

  • The National Commission for Certifying Agencies 
  • The American Board for Specialty Nursing Certifications.

For a CNOR certificate, a candidate takes the perioperative nursing exam that can be given three months after applying to sit for the test. The exam holds approximately three hours and 45 minutes. For the CNOR exam, a candidate must have;

  • A current and cleared Registered Nursing license,
  • Be a present perioperative nurse in the fields of nursing education, administration, research, or clinical practice,
  • Having a minimum of 2- years of perioperative nursing experience 
  • Participate at least 2400 hours in perioperative nursing cases and have spent a minimum of 1200 hours in the intraoperative nursing role.

The job description of the surgical nurse

The following are the job descriptions that scrub nurses should be expected to perform. But the description varies based on the settings of a person working.

  • A person should know the scrubbing techniques that they properly disinfect themselves, and wear a dress and gown with sterile technique.
  • Help the other surgical team member scrubbing in for surgery.
  • Equip the operating room by maintaining sterile procedures to set out instruments and set up other surgical equipment.
  • He/ she should be fast at work and remain organized during complicated procedures.
  • Understand the importance of time-outs and other safety checks.
  • Use analytical thinking skills to determine surgical complications and the appropriate next steps to take.  
  • Should have a knowledge of all surgical instruments and be comfortable in assisting a variety of surgical procedures.
  • Understand medical issues, drug dosage, complications, contraindications, and interactions
  • Should Know how to correctly label medication on the surgical field
  • Remember when and how to conduct proper surgical instruments and sponge counts to ensure patient safety.
  • Cooperate with the surgical team members and promote teamwork to secure patient safety
  • Recognize respiratory and cardiovascular decline and know what will be the initial steps to obtain to stabilize your patient.

Where an operating room nurse can work?

operative nurses can serve in various facilities, from large, high-volume hospitals to modest outpatient clinics. According to the Association Operative Registered Nurse (AORN)  survey calculated that;

  • nurse in free-standing mobile surgical centers earned an average salary of $9,100 a year
  •  Nurses in hospital-based ASCs earned an average salary of $16,600 
  • perioperative nurses in acute-care hospitals earned $21,000 more than average.
  •  Nurses in nonprofit hospitals outearned their companions in for-profit facilities by an average of $2,300 a year, 
  • nurses in VA hospitals averaged $8,900 more.

How much does the scrub nurse make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the hourly earnings of scrub nurses is as high as $80.05 and as low as $11.30, but the majority of Scrub Nurse salaries currently range between $26.20 – $58.17 across the United States (US). This suggests that there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location, and years of experience.

According to the 2 March 2021 record, the average hourly salary for a Scrub Nurse in the US is $41.6 per hour and $ 86,621 per year.

The average scrub nurse’s total salary in Karachi, Pakistan is Rs 3,064,672 or an equal hourly rate of Rs 1,473- Rs. 6,596. This range is 9% higher than the average surgical scrub nurse salary in Pakistan. 

Top Paying Cities for Scrub Nurse Jobs

San Mateo, California$111,353$53.54
Richmond, California$104,109$50.05
Stamford, City in Connecticut$101,377$48.74
Bellevue, Washington state$101,134$48.62
Brooklyn, New York $99,852$48.01


Scrub nurses working in the operating room may have to work long hours for surgical cases, which can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Every day in the operating room is not the same.  Scrub nursing is a challenging and exciting career with a good wage.