More healthcare professionals than ever are choosing to work as medical-surgical nurses, which may seem surprising since this is a core career option. Medical-surgical nursing is a foundational area for nurses, and many other specialties will require experience in this area.
This blog post will cover the requirements outlook for this popular career choice, looking at necessary education and certifications, job responsibilities, how to work in this specialty, and some of the benefits of being a med-surg nurse.
Basics of Being a Med-Surg Nurse
Medical-surgical (med-surg) nursing is a specialized field that focuses on the care of adult patients who are acutely ill, recovering from surgery, or being treated for a variety of medical conditions. Med-surg nurses play a vital role in the healthcare team, providing direct patient care, managing medications, monitoring vital signs, and coordinating care with other healthcare professionals.
Whether you take an assignment as a travel med-surg nurse or a staff position, you can expect to work with a wide variety of patients. Some will have acute illnesses or injuries, and others will be preparing for or recovering from surgery. Caring for patients with these types of conditions takes experience, training, and understanding of all types of medical issues.
Some common conditions or ailments that med-surg nurses might treat include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Hip or knee replacements
- Injuries from falls (broken or shattered bones, brain trauma, etc.)
- Advanced infections
- Surgeries related to diabetes
- Congestive heart failure
- Renal failure
- Comorbidities (when two or more diseases or injuries are present)
Med-Surg Nursing Education and Certifications
The minimum education required to work as a med-surg nurse is an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Once you complete the program, you will need to take a certification exam to become a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).
If you choose to pursue further education, you can complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) instead. While this takes more time than an ADN does, you’ll have more experience in clinical practice and more thorough training in science.
After your ADN or BSN, you have the option to be certified as a med-surg nurse in two ways:
- Through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). You’ll obtain the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (RN-BC).
- Via the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB). You’ll obtain the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse certification (CMSRM).
Healthcare employers may also want you to obtain the following certifications:
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Certified Transcultural Nurse (CTN)
- AHNCC- Nurse Coach-Board Certified (NC-BC)
Where Do Med-Surg Nurses Work?
While many med-surg nurses work in hospitals, there are other healthcare facilities that need experienced nurses to support patients pre- and post-surgery. These facilities include inpatient clinics, nursing homes, government facilities, home health care environments, and outpatient surgical centers.
Common Job Responsibilities for Med-Surg Nurses
While your responsibilities will vary depending on what type of healthcare facility you work in, you can expect to perform the following tasks frequently:
- Admit new patients
- Monitor vital signs
- Administer medication (oral or intravenously)
- Operate and maintain equipment such as IV tubes, feeding tubes, oxygen tubes, and catheters
- Perform and/or order tests and assessments
- Document patient progress and needs
- Provide wound care post-surgery
- Facilitate transportation to a rehabilitation facility, long-term care facility, or home
- Providing education to patients, caregivers, and family members
Med-Surg Nursing Pay and Prospects
If you’re considering a career as a medical surgical nurse or are already one, you’re in good company. There are, of course, many factors to consider when looking for a job, such as the facility you’ll work in, your preferred salary, and where you want to live.
Med-Surg Nurse Salary
According to ZipRecruiter, most med-surg nurses can expect to earn just over $117,000 annually. That salary breaks down to around $56 per hour or $2,251 a week.
Of course, your salary depends on many factors, including your experience, certifications, the location where you work, and whether you choose to work as a staff or travel nurse.
Top States To Work in as a Med-Surg RN
The top five states to work in as a med-surg nurse are:
- Connecticut: There’s still a lot of demand, and the average annual salary is $100,500. Plus, you’ll be in beautiful New England.
- California: Especially attractive if you’re a travel nurse, this state has a large population and a high demand for healthcare services.
- Texas: With a low cost of living but great salaries, Texas is extremely attractive to many nurses.
- Florida: With an aging population, Florida is looking for more med-surg nurses — negotiation opportunities for salary are high.
- New York: With some of the top hospitals in the world, you’ll work alongside some of the industry’s experts in New York and earn more than the national average.
Benefits of Working as a Med-Surg Nurse
There’s a lot to be said about working as a med-surg nurse: there’s high job satisfaction in this specialty for many reasons. No two days will be the same. With so many patients coming in and out with different illnesses or surgeries planned, you’ll work with all kinds of conditions.
As a med-surg nurse, you can move between different subspecialties. You might try radiology, oncology, cardiac, neurosurgery, or other units. You’ll have a chance to expand your skill set in all sorts of areas, creating opportunities for advancement like nurse supervisor or nurse manager roles.
Career Outlook for Med-Surg Nurses
The great news is that medical-surgical nurses are in high demand. NurseJournal.org predicts that med-surg nursing will grow at a rate of 7% by 2030. If you choose to work as a travel nurse, there is even more opportunity.
If you are a med-surg nurse looking for your next assignment, reach out to us here at Supplemental Health Care. We’d love to help you find the ideal position and our nationwide network can help you find your new job and a new adventure.
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