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Careers in Plastic Surgical Nursing FAQs



Q: I am a nurse who is interested in specializing in Plastic Surgery. How do I make this transition?

A: ASPSN is always interested in helping nurses transition to the field of Plastic Surgical Nursing. Plastic surgical nursing positions vary and include: office based, peri-operative based, or sales to name a few. Positions can further be divided into aesthetic, reconstructive, pediatric, and or adult. Salaries vary depending on location, experience and practice type. As the nursing shortage continues, we have not heard of anyone interested being unable to find employment.

To make the transition to this specialty, look for an office or plastic surgery center that is willing to offer a solid orientation program. Most are good about providing education to that affect but it is important to get specifics. Many are also willing to do on the job training for nurses without previous plastic surgical experience. Be sure that you choose an office that has "board certified plastic surgeons". As you know, many surgeons are "doing" plastic surgery and call themselves plastic surgeons. The correct "board certification" is the distinguishing factor between a board certified plastic surgeon and a surgeon board certified in another area and "doing" plastic surgery. Also, consider joining a specialty organization, such as ASPSN. There are many specialty nursing organizations out there, but I would caution you to be sure they are recognized by the ANA as an "official specialty organization in the field of plastic surgical nursing." Always be sure the organization you chose to get involved with has a proven track record.

If you are interested in becoming certified, be sure there is a separation between the certifying board and the nursing specialty organization. You should not have to be a member of the organization nor be mandated to take any specific courses to sit for a certification exam. The fees may vary for association members and non members, but that is the only acceptable variance. Plastic surgical nursing certification is offered through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board. However, two years of plastic surgical nursing experience is required to qualify to sit for this exam. ASPSN strongly recommends that all nurses specializing in the field of plastic surgical nursing become certified and once passing the exam, certified nurses have the right to include CPSN (certified plastic surgical nurse) as part of their credentials.

Membership to ASPSN would provide you with information on all aspects of plastic surgical nursing through our conventions, Journal and newsletters. These would give you a great overview of what plastic surgical nursing is all about as well as networking opportunities with plastic surgical nurses worldwide. You might also want to negotiate with the office, prior to accepting a position, the offices willingness to support your involvement in a specialty nursing organization. Negotiating support for attending national and regional conferences as well as membership dues has been successful for many, when discussed prior to accepting a contract / position.

You may also want to consider purchasing, for yourself, or having your new employer purchase ASPSN's Scope and Standards of Practice book, published by the ANA. This foundational book articulates the essentials of our nursing specialty, its activities and accountabilities – the who, what, when, where, and how of practice – at all care levels and settings. It is a core resource for the nurse who has chosen to focus professionally on the needs and characteristics of this patient population. Our Core Curriculum for Plastic Surgical Nursing is also available. The Core book is an essential study guide for anyone sitting for the CPSN exam as well as an invaluable resource to any plastic surgery practice. Both texts are available in our Online Store.

Q: I am a high school student who is looking to pursue a career in Plastic Surgical Nursing. What is the best way to do this?

A: Plan to attend a 4-year nursing school where you would receive your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Gaining general nursing experience is also a good idea prior to specializing in any field, including plastic surgical nursing, as it will give you a well rounded and solid knowledge base to pull from. You may also want to consider joining an organization such as ASPSN. Candidate memberships are geared for students who are in their undergraduate programs and are available for a period of two years. Candidate membership would provide you with information on plastic surgical nursing through our conventions, Journal, and newsletters. This will give you a great overview of what plastic surgical nursing is all about.

Plastic surgical nursing positions vary and include: office based, peri-operative based, or sales. Positions can further be divided into aesthetic, reconstructive, pediatric, and or adult.

Q: How do I go about becoming a nurse injector?

A: First, you might want to check with your State Nursing Board regarding your State Nurse Practice Act. Not all states allow nurses to work as nurse injectors. Then you need to decide if you are interested in working as a nurse in a plastic surgery setting or return to school to get your esthetician's license. Many plastic surgeons are willing to hire nurses with little or no experience to work in their office or surgery center; however, it is unlikely a plastic surgeon would hire an inexperienced nurse as a nurse injector.

Look for an office or plastic surgery center that is willing to offer a solid orientation program. Many are also willing to do on the job training for nurses without previous plastic surgical experience. Be sure that you choose an office that has "board certified plastic surgeons". As you know, many surgeons are "doing" plastic surgery and call themselves plastic surgeons. The correct "board certification" is the distinguishing factor between a board certified plastic surgeon and a surgeon board certified in another area and “doing” plastic surgery. Consider joining a specialty organization, such as ASPSN. There are many specialty nursing organizations out there, but I would caution you to be sure they are recognized by the ANA as an “official specialty organization in the field of plastic surgical nursing.” I would also caution you to be sure the organization you chose to get involved with has a proven track record. If you are interested in becoming certified, be sure there is a separation between the certifying board and the nursing specialty organization. You should not have to be a member of the organization nor be mandated to take any specific courses to sit for a certification exam. The fees may vary for association members and non members, but that is the only acceptable variance.

Q: I am former nurse who has not been in practice for some time and am interested in pursuing the specialty of Plastic Surgical Nursing.

A: Nursing in general is a wonderful profession, so dust off those degrees and let's see if we can help you get on the right track. How long has it been since you worked as a nurse? I suppose that would be your first challenge. If it has been awhile, you might need to take a few refresher courses. But let's move on from that and say you are ready to look for a position. Please see I am a nurse who is interested in specializing in Plastic Surgery. How do I make this transition?