Evolution of Orthopaedic Nursing in Canada

Table of Contents
Orthopaedic Nursing

Musculoskeletal diseases and disorders are prevalent all over the world leading to common conditions such as arthritis, bone fractures, joint replacements, osteoporosis, etc. To take care of patients who suffer from these conditions, there is a need for nursing professionals who can help in pain management, casting, traction, operating mobility devices, etc.  Oftentimes, musculoskeletal conditions need surgery and orthopaedic nurses assist the physicians with the preparation for the procedure while assisting the patients with the postoperative recovery. After completing their nursing courses in Canada, orthopaedic nurses are formally trained to work in the operating room, hospital units, outpatient care clinics, offices, etc.  Mostly, orthopaedic nurses are familiar with a wide range of medical conditions, operations, and medications. Orthopaedic nursing has its roots in Victorian England and in the past few years, many new units have evolved into mixed care units caring for a diverse patient population.  Below, we will see more about orthopaedic nursing in detail while also understanding the evolution of orthopaedic nursing in Canada

What is Orthopedic Nursing? 

Orthopaedic nursing is a speciality that is focused on the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. It ranges from acute problems such as fractures, chronic systemic disorders such as loss of bone density or lupus erythematosus, joint replacement, etc. The orthopaedic nurses have specialized skills such as neurovascular status monitoring, casting, traction, continuous passive motion therapy, external fixation, etc.  In the past few years, orthopaedic nurses have practised in hospital settings in either exclusive orthopaedic units or in the operating rooms. With the speciality of orthopaedic nursing, many jobs for nurses have emerged in the recent past. Today, orthopaedic nurses can be found in an endless array of practice settings. 

Who is an Orthopaedic Nurse? 

An orthopedic nurse is a professional who helps patients suffering from musculoskeletal issues such as broken and fractured bones, osteoporosis, joint replacements, injuries, diseases, etc. An orthopedic nurse is someone who works closely with the patients, their families and the orthopedic teams to ensure that there is clear client education, a smooth recovery, and minimal complications.  It is the responsibility of an orthopedic nurse to perform musculoskeletal health exams, assist with casting and traction, and administer pain medication. An orthopedic nurse spends time encouraging patients to increase their mobility, educating the patients about how to protect their joints and bone health, and implementing strategies to minimize their pain and complications.  As an orthopedic nurse, you must be empathetic while working with patients who deal with chronic pain and mobility concerns. You should have impeccable communication skills to make sure that the healthcare provider or the physician is well aware of the patient’s needs while facilitating an appropriate follow-up. Down the line, some orthopedic nurses take care of postoperative orthopedic patients which also opens a whole new world of nursing skills. 

What Does an Orthopaedic Nurse Do? 

The orthopaedic nurses have many job duties as they see many patients with different musculoskeletal disorders. These nurses can evaluate patients in a clinical setting or a hospital setting while ordering imaging, treatments and procedures. From assisting in orthopaedic surgeries and setting broken bones to performing joint injections, setting casts, and placing splints, orthopaedic nurses do a lot.   These nurses can track headlines from treatment interventions and order subsequent tests, plan a follow up care, and collaborate with members of the healthcare team for ensuring that the patient needs are met. In sum, the roles and responsibilities of an orthopaedic nurse include: 

  • Assisting the doctors in offering care for musculoskeletal problems 
  • Assessing the vital signs of patients 
  • Helping treat injuries with serious wound dressings and castings 
  • Assigning a patient on a pain management schedule and assisting in pain medications while monitoring for reactions and allergies. 
  • Educating and sensitizing patients on how to safely heal from surgery or injuries at home. 
  • Enabling the patients to improve strength and mobility after the correction of a musculoskeletal problem. 

Becoming an Orthopedic Nurse: 

To become an orthopedic nurse, you must complete an accredited nursing program. There are many hospitals that prefer a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing degree but that is not a requirement for all hospitals. Earning a degree in advanced nursing courses in Canada and then passing the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed is required. The nurses who wish to continue their orthopedic education are encouraged to complete a master’s degree.  For gaining experience, nurses who have already worked in critical care, emergency room, surgical and other applicable settings are well poised to work within the orthopedic speciality. There are also many courses related to orthopedics that can be completed for the ones who are interested in going into the field including the specialized courses in osteoporosis care, body trauma, and osteoarthritis care.  As far as the certifications go, the “Basic Orthopedic Nursing – Canadian Orthopedic Nursing Certification Exam Prep Course” by Canadian Orthopedic Nurse Association is the specific certification for the orthopedic nurse in Canada. This course is a series of three online learning modules that cover some common orthopedic trauma conditions and orthopedic surgery. These modules are suitable for all nurses who wish to learn more about orthopedic care and orthopedic nursing. 

Canadian Orthopaedic Nurse Association 

The Canadian Orthopaedic Nurse Association or CONA is an association of orthopaedic professionals who care for their patients across different healthcare settings and communities. It is an active association with a strong vision and mission to be a driving force in Global Health Care that engages orthopaedic professionals so that they can excel.   Dedicated to promoting and advancing excellence in orthopaedics with education, research, and innovation practice, the Canadian Orthopaedic Nurse Association supports competence along with personal and professional growth. It informs and influences healthcare improvement from the local level to the international level with strategic partnerships.   There is a yearly conference organized by CONA in different cities across Canada where orthopaedic professionals come together to learn from one another, enjoy friendships and explore new places. As an orthopaedic nurse, if you choose to become a CONA executive then you will be a part of dedicated volunteers who enable the growth of orthopaedic nursing in Canada.    

History of CONA:  

The Canadian Orthopaedic Nurse Association or CONA came into existence on 24th January 1978 as an organization of nurses and allied health professionals who perceived orthopaedic nursing as a distinct speciality requiring advanced knowledge and clinical skills. Within a few months, the association held its national conference, published a journal and extended its membership base widely.  CONA is an association that has played a significant role in the evolution and growth of orthopaedic nursing in Canada and has chapter representation in the field of orthopaedic nursing at many places in Canada. The members of CONA have dedicated nurses and other healthcare professionals who are working consistently for the growth of orthopaedic nursing in Canada.   

Future of Orthopaedic Nursing In Canada:  

Orthopaedic nursing is constantly evolving and there are more and more jobs for nurses being created in this field. The demand for orthopaedic nurses is continuously growing in Canada and the nursing career path provides many worthwhile benefits such as improved salaries, numerous career opportunities, and a feeling of fulfilment that comes with treating others.   Ageing population in Canada is one of the biggest factors why there is a rising demand for orthopaedic nurses and the job outlook looks promising in the future. Healthcare employers in many settings need skilled orthopaedic nurses so RNs who choose this speciality can be attractive hires.   The average salary of an orthopaedic nurse ranges from $67, 234 to $116, 572 with the best making as much as $134, 468 annually. Multiple things end up affecting the scale of salary including location, certifications, location, experience, etc. The setting of an orthopaedic nurse practice can also lead to wage fluctuation because an orthopaedic nurse has an option to work in wide settings.  No matter which setting you may be employed in, as an orthopaedic nurse you will have the opportunity to help patients heal from injuries, diseases, and surgeries. In addition, ortho nurses also have an opportunity to educate patients on lifestyle changes that can improve bone health and improve the quality of life for years to come.  

Conclusion:  Orthopaedic nursing is unique in the sense that it is a speciality that deals with the intense pain that the patients face but also the dramatic recovery that professionals get to witness and the healing that comes with it. If you are someone who can thrive in these extremes then orthopaedic nursing is right for you.  


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