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Beena Rajan Shares What It Means to be an Ortho-Certified Nurse

By: Lauren McRae

Beena Rajan, wears her ortho-certified RN title like a badge of honor.

Aside from having the general experience of an RN, Rajan has earned the only credential that recognizes orthopaedic nursing experience – nursing board certification from the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB).

After receiving her certification, she’s responsible for assessing new orthopaedic patients for their conditions, watching the condition of current patients, and providing treatment and medications. As part of this role, she also monitors vital signs, changes dressings and notifies the doctor of any changes in a patient’s condition, amongst other duties.

“Becoming an ortho-certified nurse has helped me provide the best care I can for patients, along with contributing to my professional growth,” she said.

Rajan is currently working at the NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute located on the Skokie Hospital Campus. Her career started as a patient care technician at Rush NorthShore, and then after a year, she became an RN in the medical-surgical unit at Skokie Hospital. In February of 2012, she was transferred to the orthopaedic unit, became certified as an ortho-certified RN in 2016, and has been working there ever since.

“While working at the Orthopaedic & Spine Institute, I’ve become skilled at working with orthopaedic patients,” she said. “I see similar types of patients every day and I have become proficient in working with them," said Rajan.

Rajan sees all kinds of patients from those who have hand and upper extremity injuries to those who need total joint reconstruction to those undergoing spine surgery.

Being an ortho-certified nurse is a gratifying field. “The most rewarding part is discharging a patient knowing that I did my part in assisting with their recovery process,” she said. “Being certified means I am well-versed in handling orthopedic patients and the patients can rest assured knowing that I have a lot of experience in working with them.”

However, it has its trials, too. “The most challenging part is dealing with symptoms from surgery. Once patients are on the floor, we must constantly monitor their pain and deal with other complications like nausea, hypotension, and dizziness while getting up. We as a team work together to ensure patients are in as little pain as possible while still remaining safe.”

Rajan can remember one patient experience that hit home. “About 5 years ago, I took care of a patient who was a prominent figure. I was worried because they had a big back surgery and had to stay longer because of it. When I was discharging the patient, they told me I was their Florence Nightingale. This was not only a huge relief, but it made me feel great joy. I was so glad I was able to help them that much they would compare me to such a figure. Also, this kind of experience assured me that I was proficient in my duties.”

Rajan says becoming certified not only teaches you essential information about caring for surgical patients, but it’s a badge you can proudly wear to show your expertise. “I would highly encourage anyone who plans on remaining in the ortho field to become certified,” she said.