It's estimated that around 50 million Americans have to live with some form of pain daily. Living under constant pain often makes leading a productive life difficult, sometimes even next to impossible. Pain management nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for and helping patients with chronic and debilitating pain to live more fulfilling and active lives. One way pain management nurses do this is by helping to ease and manage their patients' pain via the administration of pain medication, as well as various non-pharmacological treatment methods including acupuncture, massage, and biofeedback. Increasingly, due to the addictive nature of opioid pain medications and America's growing opioid epidemic, pain management nurses are looking more and more to non-pharmacological treatment options and techniques. Common ailments that pain management nurses encounter include nerve or spinal injuries, degenerative disc disease, cancer pain, diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia, broken bones, chronic headaches and more.
Common tasks of pain management nurses include the following:
Pain management nurses can find employment wherever their services are needed. These settings typically include:
Before you gain your specialty certification in pain management, you will learn the basics of pain management nursing during your RN degree program. You will learn how to evaluate a patient's pain level, administer treatment as per the doctor's orders, and to assess a patient's response to treatment. Those who choose to go into the profession should have exceptional assessment skills, be able to read non-verbal cues and body language well, and should be both empathetic and compassionate. Because the pain management field is constantly changing, you should also be prepared to be a life-long learner.
Prospective pain management nurses will need to first complete a nursing degree (ADN or BSN) at a two or four-year college or university. Today, many healthcare organizations will prefer their employees to have earned their BSN, so be mindful of this. Upon completing your degree, the next step is to pass the NCLEX-RN exam that's required for RN licensure. Once this is completed, you will need to accumulate about three years of clinical experience and undergo some continuing education before you can apply to sit for the exam to become certified in the pain management nursing specialty.
Pain management nurses must possess an unencumbered RN license and have some experience in the field in order to gain a specialty certification. These nurses will also need to go through some continuing education courses in pain management before they are certified. This specialty does require an ADN or BSN degree at minimum.
Those who seek to gain a Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) credential in the specialty of Pain Management through the ANCC and ASPMN will need to have fulfilled the following requirements before they are permitted to sit for the exam:
An Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and sedation certification also may be needed in the case that invasive pain management procedures are carried out.
Pain is one of the most common ailments that people seek medical treatment for. As opioid pain medications are used less and less due to their addictive nature, people will continue to look to pain management nurses to provide alternative methods for treating their pain.
As per PayScale, pain management nurses earn an average annual salary of approximately $60,000. Pay rates will inevitably vary depending on things like the employing organization, the city or state a person is employed in, what credentials they have, the amount of clinical experience they have in the field, and of course their education levels. Similar factors will exert an influence on what benefits a pain management nurse receives. Most who are employed, however, will receive medical, vision, dental, prescription and sometimes life insurance coverage from their employers.