How to Become a Medical-Surgical Nurse

How to Become a Medical-Surgical Nurse

Medical-surgical nursing is the foundation of all nursing care because it used to be where all nurses started. Medical-surgical nurses are registered nurses that provide care to a variety of patients in many different settings.

What does a medical-surgical nurse do?

Medical-surgical nurses focus on the promotion of health and basic medical care to patients diagnosed with a variety of medical and surgical conditions. They focus on maintaining the physical and psychosocial health of their patients. They obtain medical histories, examine patients, observe and record vital signs and other observations in medical charts, and provide medication and other treatments. They provide education to patients regarding surgical procedures and provide the necessary care before, during, and after procedures. They strive to help patients feel as comfortable as possible and they perform a variety of tasks to assist in management of pain. Medical-surgical nurses are also responsible for planning discharges and providing education to patients about follow-up care.

What kind of training does a medical-surgical nurse need?

Medical-surgical nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs include intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Most medical-surgical nurses also become board certified from either the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB). A current RN license, minimum clinical and medical-surgical experience, and continuing education are required for certification. Medical-surgical nurses must complete continuing education on a regular basis to maintain their licenses and certifications and keep up to date on the advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a medical-surgical nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increase in surgical procedures will drive job growth of medical-surgical nurses.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for medical-surgical nurses that have professional certification and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace medical-surgical nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do medical-surgical nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for medical-surgical nurses is $49,000; average annual medical-surgical nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a medical-surgical nurse is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in medical-surgical nursing and providing care to a variety of patients. Medical-surgical nurses must have a solid understanding of many different medical conditions and the appropriate treatment methods. Patience, determination, critical thinking, good judgment, and compassion are necessary characteristics. Medical-surgical nurses must have excellent communication and ability to work as part of a team. They must be able to work under stress and care for many patients at one time.

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