Career Info
Our Mission

Our Members

Our Sponsors

Sponsorship Info

Career Info

Resource Info

Education Info

Campaign News

Our Honorary Chairs

Contact Us



Orthopaedic nursing has its roots in Victorian England. The specialtyís matriarch, Dame Agnes Hunt, was crippled from septic arthritis of her hip. She devoted her entire nursing career to bettering the lives of crippled children and those injured by the ravages of war. In our more recent past, orthopaedic nurses have practiced in hospital settings in either dedicated orthopaedic units or in the operating room. Within the past few years, many orthopaedic units have evolved into mixed units caring for a diverse patient population. With this shift you will now find orthopaedic nurses in an endless array of practice settings. These settings encompass the entire continuum of care from birth until death, illness to prevention, acute to rehab to care in patientsí homes. Nurses who care for patients with musculoskeletal injuries and conditions need to have the appropriate knowledge and skills specific to the orthopaedic specialty.


The role of the orthopaedic nurse is to advance musculoskeletal health care by promoting excellence in orthopaedic research, education, and nursing practice. You will find orthopaedic nurses in a variety of organizations as: 

  • Staff nurses
  • Head nurses 
  • Clinical Specialists 
  • Supervisors/Coordinators 
  • Nurse Managers 
  • Directors 
  • Nursing Instructors 
  • Administrators 
  • RN First Assistants 
  • Case Managers 
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Office Managers
  • Researchers
  • Educators

Practice Settings:

Orthopaedic nurses have a wide variety of settings from which to choose. You may find the orthopaedic nurse in the hospital, in a physician practice, in a nursing home, in industry, in academia, or in home health. Their areas of practice include but are not limited to:

  • Emergency Departments
  • Operating Rooms
  • Adult Orthopaedic Units
  • Pediatric Orthopaedic Units
  • Adult Medical/Surgical Units
  • Pediatric Medical/Surgical Units
  • Trauma Units
  • Gerontology Units
  • Rehabilitation Units
  • Oncology Units
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Universities/Colleges of Nursing


Orthopaedic nurses are professional nurses who have successfully passed their Boards for RN or LPN/LVN. Many orthopaedic nurses go on to complete graduate degrees, including masterís and doctorates. The National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses has a certification exam that many nurses take. This credential indicates proficiency within the specialty and is the only credential that documents expertise in the practice of orthopaedic nursing.


National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses
401 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 2200
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 800-289-6266
Fax: 312-527-6658