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Medical Surgical Nursing

Posted by travel | August 22, 2012 | Travel Nursing Jobs

medical surgical nurseIf  you are a person who likes challenges and enjoys helping people, then you should consider becoming a medical-surgical nurse. Once considered a general nursing profession, changes in the way healthcare is provided has caused medical-surgical (or med-surg) nursing to evolve into a specialty profession. The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses states that this field is the most demanding of all the nursing professions and is considered the foundation of every medical institution.

Medical-surgical nursing is a very challenging career. People are living longer and developing more serious and sometimes multiple medical conditions (e.g. diabetes and heart disease). In addition to that, patients are being discharged from healthcare facilities faster, which mean med-surg nurses must provide care and educate patients within a short period of time. Nurses in this field are now handling discharge planning and it is not unusual for them to be admitting and discharging patients on a regular basis (sometimes at the same time). Advancements in technology add another level of complexity to an already difficult job.

However, for people that feel they are up to the challenge, medical-surgical nursing is a rewarding job. Here are some of the basics about this nursing profession.

Medical Surgical Nursing Certification

Formal education from an accredited post-secondary school is required to enter the medical-surgical nursing profession. Interested individuals can obtain specialized education and training from community, vocational, or career colleges and four-year universities. Some programs are even offered online through Internet-based schools. While not required, having experience with adult patient care is helpful.

Recent nursing graduates are welcomed in the field of medical-surgical nursing. For many years, this field was actually the first area new nurses worked in before moving on to other specialties. Today, nurses have many other options. Even though medical-surgical nursing can provide a person with a great foundation for future endeavors, this field of nursing is not for everyone.

Certification is not required, but can be immensely helpful in securing employment. Certifications can be earned by passing exams offered by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Only those with at least two years of experience in the med-surg field and have completed 2,000 hours of nursing within three years are eligible to take the tests.


What Med-Surg Nurses Do

The job of a medical-surgical nurse is multifaceted. In addition to caring for surgical patients before and after their procedures, med-surg nurses provide medical care to people suffering from a wide variety of medical problems including congestive heart failure, diabetes, dementia, and physical disability. The workload changes from day to day and sometimes on an hourly basis. A med-surg nurse may be preparing a patient for a blood transfusion one minute and teaching a diabetic how to test his or her blood sugar levels the next minute. People in this field also assess patients, give medications, and develop care plans with other healthcare professionals.

Because of the varied amount of work they do, medical-surgical nurses must be highly organized and efficient. They are required to care for multiple patients (up to seven at one time), and must manage the numerous demands on their time and attention by prioritizing the work and delegating duties to other appropriate medical staff. For example, a med-surg nurse may assign a CNA or LPN to empty bed pans or give sponge baths so he can administer medication to one patient and prepare another for a biopsy. Typically, nurses in this field quickly become expert multi-taskers.

Characteristics of a Great Med-Surg Nurse

To do well in this field, a person must possess the following skills and characteristics:

  • Compassion: Nurses care for humans of all races, ages, nationalities, disabilities, etc. You must be able to empathize and sympathize with patients and care for them equally.
  • Critical Thinking: This job requires the nurse to assess patients and make decisions regarding their care. You must be able to analyze available information and make decisions based on your conclusions, sometimes in a matter of seconds.
  • Creativity: Nurses must think on their feet and out of the box. Many situations will require creative solutions. For example, a nurse may use a toy to distract a child while she gives him a shot.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Nurses work with other medical staff to provide care to patients. They must be willing and able to interact with their coworkers in a professional and cooperative manner.
  • Flexible: The conditions in a medical facility can change rapidly. A patient that appeared to be doing fine can suddenly take a turn for the worse. Nurses must be flexible enough to deal with whatever happens during the day.

Medical Surgical Salary

The average salary for medical-surgical nurses is between $55,000 and $80,000 per year. This is based on a variety of factors including education, experience, and work schedule. In general, med-surg nurses made more money working for a staffing agency than as an employee of a medical facility.