What Is A Medical Surgical Nurse?
All nurses everywhere used to be considered to be medical surgical nurses. Now it has become a specialty in adult health care. It was once considered to be a stepping stone in the health profession, but now it is seen as the backbone specialty that keeps all health care facilities going. These nurses work practically everywhere, including:
- Inpatient care units
- Ambulatory care units
- Home health care
- Long-term care
- Skilled nursing homes
- Urgent care centers
- Surgical centers
Nature Of The Work/duties
According to http://www.amsn.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/AMSNMain.woa/wa/viewSection?s_id=1073744083&ss_id=536873248 the following tasks are performed by medical surgical nurses:
- Have knowledge in all aspects of adult health
- Teach patients, families, peers, and other health professionals
- Provide comfort and attention to people who, at that moment, need someone to take an interest in their lives
- Heal patients physically and emotionally through intuitive experiences that rely on observation and touch
- Support patients in their efforts to identify what is in their best interests
- Care for patients of all ages
- Assist patients in returning to their highest level of functioning
- Provide dignity and respect in end-of-life decision-making and care
- Manage the care of patients with multiple medical, surgical, and/or psychiatric diagnoses
- Manage the care of patients with diagnoses across all medical specialties
Medical surgical nurses usually work n preoperative settings. These can be found in:
- Hospitals – this is the most common place to find a medical surgical nurse although, in actual fact, they work just about anywhere.
- Acute Care Units – these are facilities where there are serious illnesses that require treatment.
- Long-term Care Facilities – these are situations where a patient needs care for months rather than days due to the nature of their ailment.
- Outpatient Clinics – this the opposite of long-term care as these are places where patients come for a day or a few hours to be checked up on.
- Home Care settings – these are situations where a nurse goes to a patient’s home and takes care of them there; elderly patients often require this type of care.
There are a number of fairly strict requirements for specializing in this area of nursing. In to become a medical surgical nurse you need to have a current and active RN license and you must have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse before you can become a medical surgical nurse. In addition you must have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the specialty area of medical-surgical nursing within the last 3 years before applying to become a medical surgical nurse, and you must have completed 30 hours of continuing education in medical-surgical nursing within the last 3 years. This is an intensive area of nursing that will require a great deal of hard work and many years of your time in order to get into it at a serious level.
These are some of the personality traits and personal skills that will assist you in being the best medical surgical nurse possible:
- You will need to have excellent assessment, technical, organizational, and prioritization skills.
- You will need to understand the importance of measuring and improving the quality of care delivered.
- An attitude that always celebrates that there is always something new to learn will stand you in good stead.
In addition you should also have all of the skills that other nurses have such as compassion, attention to detail, patience, an ability to function well under pressure, the ability to take order from those in a more senior position top yourself, the ability to make split second decisions, and empathy.
In order to become a medical surgical nurse you will first have to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This will make you an RN and is a minimum requirement for entering this area of nursing. To enter a program such as this you will need to meet the following requirements:
- You will have to hold a high school diploma or equivalent thereof.
- You may be required to pass a basic skills test before you will be allowed to enter the program. This test will cover basic things such as your reading, numeracy, and comprehension skills as these are all very necessary both for the RN training program as well as for your actual career as an RN once you have completed the program, passed the exam, and become licensed.
There is no licensure per se for a medical surgical nurse in particular, but you will need to attain licensure as an RN. This is done by:
- Completing an accredited program
- Writing the NCLEX-RN examination
- Applying for your license with your state board of nursing
- Passing all of the required background checks and so on
Then you need to find a job in a preoperative setting in a hospital. This will also you to start getting your experience as a medical surgical nurse, something which will take a fairly long time to do as you generally need to have about four years in the field of medical surgical nursing before you can be given the title of a medical surgical nurse, this is a long term commitment that will require a lot of hard work.
How To Become A Medical Surgical Nurse
Training, Advancement and Other Qualifications
Having the right amount of clinical experience is a very important aspect of becoming a medical surgical nurse. A good way to ensure that you get the right amount of clinical experience is to ask to do your clinical experience in a preoperative environment when you are in the process of completing your nursing program. This will allow you to get a head start in preparing for the area of nursing that you would like to specialize in. many schools are more than happy t acceded to requests such as this as it shows that you have clearly thought out the direction that you would like your career t take and that you know where you are going and what job you would like to have as a nurse in the future.
Source An Accredited Education Program
When you decide to become a medical surgical nurse you will need to get your qualification through either:
- AMSN, or
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
You also need to make sure that your initial RN training program is accredited by the appropriate bodies. If it is not you will be wasting your time and your money when you attend that program. The best way to check f a program is accredited is to enquire at your state board of nursing and see whether or not they have the program listed. These boards always have a list of programs available to you of schools that are accredited ad that are therefore considered ‘safe’ to enroll at in terms of getting your RN qualification with as little trouble as possible at the end of the day.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
For many nursing specializations all you need is an associate’s degree. However, when it comes to being a medical surgical nurse, you need to get at least a bachelor’s degree. This will take four years of intensive study and training, but it is required because of the large concentration of important information that you will be exposed to in this training program. It is important that you go through your state board of nursing when looking for these programs as there are plenty of nursing program opportunities out there that are not, in fact, genuine. In addition there are a number of genuine schools that make false claims or that are not of good quality in that the students that attend those schools do not have a high pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.
Obtain Your Licensure
You need t obtain your license as an RN before you can practice as a medical surgical nurse. To get your license you will have to pass the exam, and so on, and register with your state board of nursing. After you have done that you can consider becoming a registered nurse first assistant (RNFA). This will take something like 4 years to achieve as that is the amount of clinical experience you will need to have in a medical surgical setting before you will be considered for this type of qualification. Schedule a date for this exam with your state board of nursing. To become a registered nurse first assistant (RNFA), you need to demonstrate an ability to handle tissue and use instruments in the correct way. This will open up more doors of opportunity for you.
Online/Distance Education Programs
It is impossible to complete an RN qualification entirely online. If you come across a training program that claims to offer this, treat it with suspicion. Do not enroll in that program. To be an RN you have to complete a training course that includes:
- Theory work
- Clinical work
The second has to be done in a hands-on setting, and therefore it cannot be completed online. There are ways to balance online theory learning with clinical practice. These ways are a viable option, and you should give it a try if it is a possibility for you. However this can also be a lot more complicated and could take a lot of time. This is especially true when you have to source a location to do your clinical work yourself.
The job outlook is excellent for medical surgical nurses. Job opportunities for all registered nurses (RNs), including surgical nurses, will grow by 22% from 2008-2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate is much faster than the average career growth for all occupations during that time period. The middle half of surgical nurse first assistants earned between $65,350 and $92,860 in July 2011. As careers go this is certainly one that offers a far higher degree of stability as well as a higher salary. Because the industry is growing you will always be able t find a job. In addition the medical field itself is one that will always be necessary, so if you have a qualification in that field you will b in a position to always have a job no matter what.
Medical surgical nurses earn around $50,000 a year, the same as average registered nurses. However they are in higher demand and have many more job opportunities available to them than average nurses. Let’s look at other salaries to compare:
- Registered nurses earn around $50,000 a year
- Clinical nurses earn around $48,000 a year
- Practical nurses earn around $32,000 a year
- Licensed practical nurses earn around $29,000 a year
- Nurse specialists earn around $54,000 a year
- Operating room nurses earn around $46,000 a year
- Vocational nurses earn around $29,000 a year
- Nurse practitioners earn around $60,000 a year
- Physician assistants earn around $58,000 a year
- Clinical research nurses earn around $54,000 a year
- Operating room nursing assistants earn around $29,000 a year
Many nurses are medical surgical nurses, so there is a lot of competition. In a lot of ways they are similar to regular RNs. However you will be in greater demand if you are listed as a medical surgical nurse because this will serve as proof that you know what you are doing and that you have the educational experience as well as the practical, hands-on experience required to be an excellent asset to any health care organization. This is not a bad specialization to aim towards as you will be eligible to earn a higher salary than if you were just an LPN. You may also have more opportunities for advancement.