How to Become a Scrub Nurse: Education, Training, and Certification

Scrub nurse
Portrait of a young female doctor in scrubs and a protective face mask preparing an anesthesia machine before an operation

In the heart of every surgical procedure, a dedicated professional is the scrub nurse, ensuring precision, sterility, and patient safety. If you’re drawn to the dynamic world of the operating room and aspire to play a pivotal role in surgical interventions, you’re on the right path.

Scrub nurses play a pivotal role in surgical procedures, ensuring a sterile environment and providing critical support to surgeons. If you’re considering this career path, it’s crucial to understand the educational, training, and certification requirements. 

This guide will walk you through each step, equipping you with the knowledge needed to become a proficient scrub nurse.

Education Requirements to be a Scrub Nurse

Scrub nurse in operating room

High School Diploma or Equivalent

To begin your journey towards becoming a scrub nurse, obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent is the first crucial step. This foundational education provides the necessary groundwork for further studies in healthcare.

Pursue a Nursing Degree

Enrolling in an accredited nursing program is the next pivotal step after high school. Whether a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), these programs will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for a successful nursing career. The BSN program typically spans four years and offers a more comprehensive education, while the ADN program takes approximately two to three years.

Clinical Experience

During your nursing education, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in clinical rotations. These hands-on experiences in healthcare settings, including the operating room, provide invaluable exposure to real-world patient care scenarios and surgical procedures.

Training and Skill Development

Scrub nurse writing patient data 

Specialized Training in Perioperative Nursing

Specialized training in perioperative nursing is critical to becoming an adept scrub nurse. This training is focused on surgical procedures, aseptic techniques, and the proficient handling of surgical instruments. It provides the specialized knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the operating room especially during hospital code blue situations.

Operating Room Familiarization

Familiarity with the operating room environment is paramount. Spending time in the OR allows you to become acclimated to the unique setting, the array of equipment, and the specific

protocols followed during surgical procedures. This hands-on experience is instrumental in becoming a proficient scrub nurse.

Sterile Technique Mastery

Scrub nurse wearing medical gloves

Mastery of sterile techniques is a fundamental skill for scrub nurses. Maintaining a sterile field during surgery is a crucial responsibility, as it prevents infections and ensures the safety of the patient.

Certification and Licensing

Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

Upon completion of your nursing program, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse. This exam evaluates your competency to practice safely and effectively as a registered nurse.

Pursue Certification in Perioperative Nursing

While not mandatory, pursuing certification in perioperative nursing from a recognized organization, such as the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI), is highly beneficial. This certification demonstrates your expertise and dedication to the specialized field of perioperative nursing, enhancing your credentials and job prospects.

Continual Professional Development

Scrub nurse helping in operating room preparation

Staying informed about advancements in healthcare is crucial for a scrub nurse. The healthcare field is dynamic and constantly evolving with new technologies, procedures, and best practices. Engaging in seminars, workshops, and continuing education programs ensures that you remain up-to-date and can provide patients the highest level of care. You must also understand the importance of communication in healthcare to maintain a good working relationship.

Joining professional associations like the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) offers numerous benefits. It provides opportunities for networking with fellow healthcare professionals, grants access to valuable resources, and serves as a platform for ongoing professional development.


Becoming a scrub nurse is a rewarding journey that demands dedication, education, and hands-on training. Following these steps, you can confidently pursue a career in this crucial healthcare role. Continuous learning and a commitment to patient care are the cornerstones of being an exceptional scrub nurse. Best of luck in your pursuit of this fulfilling profession!

As you embark on your path to becoming a scrub nurse, remember that persistence and a commitment to factual information in healthcare are essential. Stay focused on your goals, and you’ll find success in this vital role within the healthcare community.

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