Travel Nursing August 15, 2019

What are the CNOR Certifications

Surgery works much like a symphony. While there is a conductor (or surgeon) who understands the surgical procedures inside and out, they cannot perform alone and must rely on a dedicated team to put all the pieces together. In surgery, this dedicated team consists of perioperative nurses.

Perioperative nurses require many years of experience, study, and training to be allowed in the operating room. Surgery is a procedure that not only requires knowledge and skills, but also patience and diligence, with some taking up to an average of five hours. It’s this marathon-like focus that separates OR nurses from registered nurses. While they may not be the ones cutting into patients, their roles are equally significant to the success or detriment of that patient.

Due to the number of complications and unique situations perioperative nurses can find themselves in, additional training and studying are often preferred. For this, there’s the CNOR certification. Becoming certified is a recognition of competence in the operating room. It’s the difference between someone that’s qualified and someone that’s an ace.

To learn about the certification program process and its benefits, read ahead.

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How to Become Certified

All certifications are issued through the Competency and Credentialing Institute (or CCI). They are the lead credentialing program that offers assessment and education for nurses striving to provide the best patient care. The steps to becoming certified include: confirmation of eligibility, applying through CCI, studying, and completion of the exam.


There are a few requirements needed before you can apply to take the certification exam.


The educational requirements consist of either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is either a two-year program or four-year program, respectively, and must be completed before the NCLEX.

Registered Nurse

The NCLEX is the examination that decides whether or not a nursing student is prepared to be a registered nurse. The NCLEX is provided through the NCSBN, or the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. It is a psychometrically sound exam that ensures proper nurse licensure.

A further requirement for certification eligibility is that the RN license must be unrestricted. This means having no suspensions or job duty restrictions due to misconduct. Also, RNs must be working in perioperative care for two years (2,400 hours), with a minimum of 1,200 hours inside the actual operating room familiarizing themselves with all surgical procedures and standards of practice.

Applying Through CCI

Applying is a simple process. Once you’ve met the eligibility requirements, you need to register through CCI and apply through their site. Upon confirmation, they will offer you a three-month window to take the exam. Be sure to sign up for a date as soon as possible to ensure you have enough time to study and don’t miss the deadline.

Studying for the Exam

On average, nurses report spending between two to three months studying for the exam. It might be helpful to outline which areas you need to focus on and learn before applying. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to adequately prepare.

CCI does provide which subject areas are covered on the test, study resources, and a CNOR practice test to assist your studies.

The test subjects include: Intraoperative Care, Preoperative Patient Assessment and Diagnosis, Communication, Perioperative Plan of Care, Instrument Processing and Supply Management, Transfer of Care, Emergency Situations, and more.

Taking and Completing the Exam

When you arrive on test day, be sure to have an ID with you. The exam itself is 200 questions and takes about 225 minutes (or 3 hours and 45 minutes). This means you have about one minute per question with some extra time for especially difficult questions.

You will receive your score immediately following the completion of the exam, and, if you pass, the certificate will be mailed within seven to ten business days.

If you do not pass the exam, you will be shown which areas need improvement, and you’ll be provided instructions on how to retake the exam.

What Does CNOR Stand For?

Although commonly mistaken for an acronym of “Certified Nurses, Operating Room,” CNOR is actually a definition. CNOR is the validation of professional achievement for nurses in the field of perioperative care, including pre-, post-, and intra-surgical intervention.

Why Become Certified?

Certified nurses are known for their specialized skills and knowledge in the operating room. They have increased standards and responsibilities and can apply for more significant job opportunities. Hospitals are quick to hire CNOR certified nurses because of their reliability in the operating room and the ability to provide quality patient care.

Increased Salary

According to surveys taken by the Advance Healthcare Network, a certified perioperative nurse can expect about a 14% increase in pay. This is because as a certified OR nurse, you’ve demonstrated your commitment to providing the highest quality care to ensure patient safety.

Is Certification Right For You?

If you’re someone who thrives in teamwork-oriented fields, and can handle high-stress environments, perioperative care is the field for you. Becoming OR certified is a well-worth step in your nursing career. Not only will you enjoy a bump in your OR nurse salary, but the increased job responsibilities, professional development, and career options make you a leader in the room. You’ll be better equipped to anticipate the surgeon’s needs and be able to provide the most sophisticated care for patients.

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