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Medical Surgical Nursing

What is Medical-Surgical Nursing?

Medical-surgical nursing began as an entry-level position and has grown into a popular nursing specialization. These versatile nurses work in many different settings including hospitals, ambulatory care units, clinics, surgical centers, and skilled nursing homes. According to Johnson & Johnson, medical-surgical nurses make up about 1/6 of the nursing profession. This is a diverse and highly skilled nursing specialty that is focused on adult care. Medical-surgical nursing requires individuals to master a large variety of adult care tasks, and often to care for a relatively high number of patients at one time. Patients in medical-surgical settings often have multiple medical diagnoses, so these nurses are faced with increased complexity.

What are the Skills and Qualities a Medical-Surgical Nurse Should Have?

Medical-surgical nursing is a fast-paced and complex. Nurses in this specialization must have a vast medical and nursing knowledge, as patients may have multiple diagnoses and nurses are likely to encounter many different kinds of conditions. Understanding these medical conditions and having the ability to explain them to the patient and his or her family is a valuable skill. Medical-surgical nurses must be great at multi-tasking and managing stress, as they may care for as many as 5-7 patients at the same time.

What are the Benefits of Working as a Medical-Surgical Nurse?

Working as a medical-surgical nurse is challenging and rewarding. It is a great specialization for those who enjoy the challenge and excitement of juggling many different tasks. These nurses deal with a large variety of medical conditions and are constantly learning on the job. Medical-surgical nurses are in high demand due to the diverse nature of their work, so specializing in this area is likely to yield many opportunities.

What are the Education and Certification Requirements?

The first step in becoming a medical-surgical nurse is to become a registered nurse. To become an RN, one must earn a diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited program. After graduation, the individual must pass the NCLEX-RN and apply for a license to work as a registered nurse.

There are two different certification examinations offered for medical-surgical nursing. One is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and those who become certified via this exam earn the Registered Nurse - Board Certified (RN-BC) credential. The second certification examination is offered by the Medical-Surgical Nurse Certification Board (MSCB) and endorsed by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). Both of these organizations require 2 years experience working as an RN before taking the certification exam, though the ANCC specifies that this must be clinical experience. Both also require 2,000 hours of experience in the past 3 years working as a nurse in a medical-surgical setting. The AACN also requires that applicants have completed 30 contact hours of continuing education related to this specialty area.

What is the Average Salary and Job Outlook?

A 2010 report by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) states that the median salary for a registered nurse is $64,690. In this same report, the BLS also predicts the employment outlook for registered nursing to be excellent. From 2010-2020, the BLS predicts 26% job growth in this career.

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