Medical-surgical nursing is the largest nursing specialty in the U.S. and is considered by many as the foundation of nursing practice. Medical-surgical nurses are RNs who work mainly in hospital units or at acute care facilities with patients who are experiencing a wide range of medical issues and diseases, or patients who are recovering from surgery. Often, RNs begin their careers as medical-surgical nurses. The specialty requires the nurse to acquire and maintain a broad array of knowledge and skills in different areas of nursing care and then apply them in a fast-paced, acute care hospital environment.
Some typical tasks that are carried out by medical-surgical nurses include:
Medical-surgical nurses typically find employment in the following environments:
When the nursing profession was in its infancy, most nurses who worked in hospital wards performing bedside care were classified as medical-surgical nurses. Today, medical-surgical nurses work in many different positions on the hospital floor as well as in other settings. Quite often medical-surgical nursing is the very first step that freshly licensed RNs will take during their careers, since jobs in bedside post-operative patient care are some of the most plentiful around. Because there is such a wide variety of patients which come through the hospital units of a medical-surgical nurse each week, new nurses can gain a vast amount of nursing experiences, practice, and perspectives that they might not otherwise get in other nursing specialties. Becoming a medical-surgical nurse requires the right combination of education, clinical training, and experience.
Future medical-surgical nurses will first need to earn an ADN or BSN degree from an accredited university or college. These days, a BSN degree is increasingly preferred by employers. Once the program has been completed, the next task is to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and then gain licensure as an RN. Some initial experience in the medical-surgical specialty and a number of hours of continuing education within the area of medical-surgical nursing will lead to eligibility for certification as a medical-surgical registered nurse (MS-RN).
Medical-surgical nurses will need to hold an unencumbered RN license and have some experience in the field. An ADN or BSN degree will be required. These nurses will also need to undergo several hours of continuing education in medical-surgical nursing in order to obtain a specialty certification as a Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (MS-RN).
The Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (MS-RN) certification is granted via the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB) which is affiliated with the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN), the American Nurses Association (ANA), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
To be eligible to become certified as a medical-surgical registered nurse (MS-RN) you will need to have fulfilled the following requirements:
MS-RNs must re-certify every five years.
Medical-surgical nurses should not only be exceptionally knowledgeable in a wide variety of nursing topics, but they must also be able to keep calm and maintain a cool head under stressful conditions. As a medical-surgical nurse, you will be confronted with a vast assortment of medical issues, diseases, and illnesses, all of which will require the close attention and advanced skill set of the MS-RN. Medical-surgical nursing is one of the oldest nursing specialties around and is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, so it's an excellent career choice.
According to PayScale, the median annual salary for medical-surgical nurses comes in around $61,178. Exact figures will depend on factors such as education level, amount of clinical experience in the field, city and state of employment, the employer, and any other certifications or credentials the MS-RN may have. Employment benefits packages will also depend upon the same factors. Most MS-RNs who are employed full-time will receive some kind of medical, dental, vision, prescription, and less frequently life insurance coverage from their employers. It also isn't out of the norm for these nurses to enjoy a couple to a few weeks of paid-time off each year. This, however, will also depend on the employing organization.