Medical Surgical Nurse

The medical surgical nurse is considered a specialized area of nursing now but at one time was the catch all for anyone admitted to a hospital not in intensive care, labor and delivery or pediatrics. The medical surgical nurse will usually have many different types of cases on her patient load in a single day.

Individuals who are stabilized after surgery are often moved into the med surgical floors, patients hospitalized with broken bones, infections or breathing problems will normally be placed on the medical surgical floor and in the care of the medical surgical nurses.

Medical Surgical Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

The medical surgical nurse performs her duties in a hospital or clinic setting and cares for patients moved to the med/surg floor. The nurse must be well versed in infection control, pain control, patient assessment as well as wound care. The med/surg nurse will care for all ages and types of illnesses.

At one time, the medical surgical floor was where all nurses began and most left the floor to specialize in other areas. Now, medical surgical nurses are considered specialists in their own right and some make a career of it. The nurse will admit patients, discharge patients, perform treatments and administer medications for patients on their floor.

Medical surgical nurses may have patients with all manner of monitors on their floor. The nurse must know how to interpret the data from heart and O2 saturation monitors, start, change IVs, and change dressings on wounds.  All care and medication given to these patients must be documented as well as admissions and discharge of patients.


How to Become a Medical Surgical Nurse

The medical surgical nurse must have superior time management skills. This type of nursing specialty requires an RN degree that may be a 2-year associate degree or a 4-year Bachelor degree.

The med/surgical nursing position may be the easiest for the new graduate to enter. The shortage of nurses all over the country is very noticeable on hospital medical surgical floors. The sometimes-hectic pace of a medical surgical floor is an excellent place for a graduate nurse to gain experience. Certification as a medical surgical nurse is not required but may be helpful.


Medical Surgical Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

  • The medical surgical nurse must graduate from an accredited nursing school.
  • A medical surgical nurse must pass the licensing examination and receive an LVN/LPN or RN license.
  • Medical Surgical RNs can apply to take the CMSRN certification. The Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB) administer the certification exam required to become a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN). Applicants must currently work in the surgical field and have two years experience as a medical-surgical RN. Applicants must also have 2,000 hours experience obtained during the three years prior to the exam. Exams are given by the Center for Nursing Education and Testing (C-Net). Some applicants may be able to obtain certification without taking the exam. Nurses who are certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a medical-surgical nurse may be exempt from taking the exam. The CMSRN is endorsed by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN).


Medical Surgical Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

Job growth for the medical surgical nurse is projected to be at least 21% through the year 2018. The career prospects for a med/surg nurse are limited only by their education level. The nurse with a 4-year RN or a Master degree may be in line for administrative positions as well as floor nursing jobs.

The average salary for a medical surgical nurse is around $54,000 per year.