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Medical-surgical nurses—the largest nursing specialty in the United States—provide care to adults with a variety of medical issues or are preparing for/recovering from surgery. They 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 nurses practice in a number of settings across the health care industry, including hospitals, outpatient settings, homes, and other non-traditional settings. The specialty of medical-surgical nursing is practiced by nurses regardless of the setting in which they work because medical-surgical nursing is what nurses do, not where.

The length of time it takes to become a surgical or perioperative nurse depends on where you are in your nursing education or career, the number of credits you can transfer, and whether you choose a full-time or part-time schedule.

As most nurses will tell you, med-surg nurses are autonomous professionals. However, an extensive team of professionals generally works in collaboration to improve the outcomes for these patients. The med-surg care team may include the primary care physician (PCP), an internist, an anesthesiologist, physical therapists, occupational therapists, technicians, and social work.

With the growth in nursing, due in part to the aging baby boomer population, the need for nurses is expected to rise by a projected 6% between now and 2018. While the average salary of a med-surg registered nurse varies greatly depending on geography, facility, level of education, etc., the average pay for a med-surg RN was approximately $77,000/year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a medical surgical nurse do?
A medical surgical nurse is a nurse who specializes in the care of patients who are having surgery or are recovering from surgery. They work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and may be assigned to a specific unit such as the operating room, post-operative recovery unit, or intensive care unit.

Medical surgical nurses provide nursing care to patients before, during, and after surgery. They monitor patients' vital signs and manage their pain relief medications. They also assist with surgical procedures, administer intravenous fluids and antibiotics, and monitor patients' post-operative progress.

How many years does it take to be a medical surgical nurse?
A registered nurse (RN) with an associate's degree in nursing can become a medical-surgical nurse in about two years. After earning a bachelor's degree in nursing, a medical-surgical nurse can advance to a clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner position. These positions usually require an additional two to three years of education and clinical experience.

Do Med Surg nurses do surgery?
A medical-surgical nurse sometimes called an operating room nurse, is a registered nurse who has specialized in the care of patients who are having surgery or other medical procedures. They work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Medical-surgical nurses provide care for patients before, during, and after surgery. They may monitor patients' vital signs and administer medications. They also assist with anesthesia and help to prepare surgical tools and equipment. After surgery, they may help to transport patients to their hospital room or discharge them from the facility.

Medical-surgical nurses must have a strong knowledge of nursing theory and practice as well as of surgical procedures. They must be able to effectively communicate with physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals.

How do you become a med/surg nurse?
To become a medical surgical nurse, you will need to complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN), or a diploma from an accredited school of nursing. Once you have your degree, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and then complete a registered nurse program. After that, you can take the Certified Nurse Operating Room examination from the National Board for Certification of Operating Room Nurses. From there, it usually takes about three years to become certified as a medical surgical nurse.


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