What is Medical-Surgical Nursing & the Skills Needed to Advance Your Career

Medical surgical nurse assisting senior female patient in hospital bed

As the largest nursing specialty, medical-surgical nursing is an exciting specialty allowing nurses the opportunity for professional growth and education through a wide range of patient needs and illnesses, making it a high-demand nursing career.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed registered nurses is expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030. This growth can be attributed to many factors such as an increase in chronic conditions, the aging patient population, a greater emphasis on preventative care, and the retiring nurse population.

Due to its diverse nature, what exactly is medical-surgical nursing? And what are the skills and certifications needed to advance in a medical-surgical nursing career?

What is Medical-Surgical Nursing?

A medical-surgical nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in providing direct care to patients with a variety of medical issues who are preparing for or care recovering from a surgical procedure. According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) med-surg nurses have “a broad knowledge base and are experts in their practice. Medical-surgical nurses have advanced organizational, prioritization, assessment, and communication skills and are leaders in coordinating care among the interprofessional health care team.”

Medical-surgical nursing is a diverse specialty that provides nurses the opportunity to work in various healthcare settings. Due to its diverse patient population, med-surg RNs may encounter patients ranging from diabetes to pneumonia to amputations and brain injuries. Traditionally, med-surg nurses worked in an acute care hospital but it’s now practiced in settings from hospitals and outpatient settings to home health and telemedicine.

For a medical-surgical nurse, surgical patient safety and care are at the forefront of the specialty’s responsibilities. Typical responsibilities include:

  • Assessing patient conditions
  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Wound care and changing dressings
  • Keeping records up to date

In addition to these responsibilities, med-surg nurses are also advocates and health education for patients and their families.

As a large and diverse field, medical surgical nursing demands extensive knowledge of medical issues and training. Some of the core skills needed to excel in this specialty include:

  • Excellent observation and assessment skills
  • Administering medical treatments and examinations
  • Exceptional time management and communication
  • Ability to rapidly adapt and handle multiple priorities

How to Advance Your Medical-Surgical Nursing Career

For medical-surgical nurses interested in advancing their careers within the specialty, there are additional credentials and certifications an individual can pursue. The three most common certifications/credentials for med-surg nurses are:

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (RN-BC): This certification is issued by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC). It is a competency-based exam that assesses the clinical knowledge and skills of the RN related to the medical surgical field. Recertification is required every five years.
  • Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse Certification (CMSRN): This certification program is administered and issued by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB). According to the AMSN, this certification is the “recognized path for registered nurses to build and demonstrate commitment, confidence, and credibility.” Registered nurses hoping to obtain the CMSRN certification must meet all of the eligibility criteria and pass an exam that assesses proficiency in medical-surgical nursing. The CMSRN certification is valid for five years.
  • Certified in Care Coordination and Transition Management (CCCTM): This credential is issued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). RN’s who obtain the CCCTM credential successfully passed an examination that validates subject matter proficiency. This certification is available for renewal only.

Start a New Med-Surg Nursing Opportunity with CareerStaff

As a medical-surgical nurse, you’ll have access to an exciting and diverse variety of job opportunities that allow you to treat a variety of conditions while acquiring new knowledge and skills.

At CareerStaff, we know how important it is to find career opportunities that align with your life goals and personal preferences. If you’re seeking a new med-surg nursing career opportunity, we have openings across the United States. We invite you to browse all the available job opportunities with CareerStaff now, and apply for a med-surg nursing job today!

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