Surgical Nurse

Surgical Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The surgical nurse, also known as a medical nurse, is a specialty nursing position that prepares patients for surgery and care for them during and after surgical procedures as well. These nurses work with other members of the surgical team including the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and other specialty nurses.  Medical nurses make up the largest portion of nurses in the country.  Nurses work with patients before a procedure, often explaining what happens during the surgery and what the patient should expect after the procedure is complete.

During surgery, nursing professionals assist surgeons by preparing instruments and handing them to the surgeon as needed.  After surgery is complete, the nurse cares for the patient to ensure that the patient’s vital signs are stable and general monitoring of the patient.  Nurses who specialize in surgery must possess many varied skills and may work in a wide variety of surgical settings. These may include hospitals, clinics, surgical centers and private practices.  Nursing professionals may specialize in a specific type of surgery, for example, orthopedic surgery, eye surgery, or plastic surgery.

How to Become a Surgical Nurse

The first step in becoming a specialized nurse is to graduate from an accredited nursing program with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN).  After graduating from the BSN program, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become an RN.  Additionally, you should become board certified through the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN).  AMSN is an organization dedicated to helping nurses learn and advance their careers.  With chapters across the country, they offer members information and provide seminars and conventions to assist nurses in their ongoing education process.  Nurses who want to go into surgical nursing should gain as much work experience as possible working in a surgical unit.

Surgical Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

Those who want to go into surgical nursing should attain the highest level of education possible.  First, choose a good undergraduate nursing school to get your BSN degree.  When taking undergraduate electives be sure to choose courses that relate directly to surgical medicine.  Upon completion of the BSN, attain some working experience as an entry level nurse in a surgical setting, if possible.  It is recommended to enter a Master’s nursing program with a specialty in medical-surgical nursing.  The MSN degree will help you qualify for the best positions at the best facilities and will improve your career and salary for your lifetime.

The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) offers certification through their certifying board, the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB). Surgical nurses who meet the requirements and pass the exam are awarded the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) credential. Applicants who already possess medical-surgical certification through the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) may automatically receive certification without taking an exam. Eligible applicants must have two years experience as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a medical-surgical setting and 2,000 hours of clinical practice. Certification is voluntary and it is highly recommended by the AMSN.

Surgical Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The career outlook for all types of nurses is very good.  Those nurses with a specialty will be in even greater demand.  Nurses who specialize in surgical procedures will be particularly sought-after in the coming years as medical procedures and surgeries will rise.  These nursing professionals may work in hospitals, clinics, private practice, or other medical facilities.  Nurses working in surgical settings may expect to receive a salary of between $51,000 and $68,000 annually.  Those with the most experience and highest level of education should expect to reach the high end of the scale.