Every November, Medical-Surgical Nurses Week leads off the beginning of the  month to recognize the nurses who work in this specialty. This year, the week has been stretched out to an entire month in honor of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) organization’s 30th anniversary year.

In honor of this special year, AMSN is holding events throughout the month for med-surg nurses to connect, learn, and celebrate. According to the professional organization, med-surg nurses make up the largest nursing practice specialty in the country.

The demand for med-surg nurses is high and will remain so as these nurses care for patients who are preparing for or recovering from surgery. Med-surg nurses work with adults who could have many different health conditions and are facing surgery that can be minor or complex. Because of this, med-surg nurses have a broad foundation of nursing skills they apply to their work every day. And because their patient load is so varied, no one day is the same as another.

Med-surg nurses work with patients to monitor them and continually assess their breathing, heart rate, pain, medication needs, and blood pressure, among other things. Depending on the setting a med-surg nurse is practicing in, some patients will just be coming to the unit and need care while others will be ready for discharge to home or a new facility. A calm bedside manner is a valuable nursing skill when you are juggling so many patients.

Frequently, medical-surgical nurses coming to work for the day are taking over patient care from another nurse whose shift is ending. They are responsible for making sure they know everything about the patient including prior health concerns, medications, and any problems or red flags to watch out for. With this information, they provide care, update the medical charts, and relay all the new information in the handoff to the next nurse at shift’s end.

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The medical-surgical path is one that appeals to many nurses because job opportunities are plentiful, in all areas of the country, and in many settings. Not restricted to a hospital, med-surg nurses can find work in outpatient settings, surgical centers, and home healthcare facilities. The role offers a guaranteed quick education in almost any nursing situation, so while many med-surg nurses remain in the career for their entire career, many others discover a new specialty they want to pursue. In fact, it’s tough to list all the responsibilities and skills for med-surg nurses because they are so extensive and varied.

Frequently, nursing school graduates will seek a med-surg role as they know it will provide them with hands-on nursing skills they will use for the length of their careers.

Even though a med-surg nurse learns every day on the job, gaining certification will raise the level of professional standing and give nurses the most updated knowledge so they can provide the best patient care. The Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board offers the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN®). Obtaining certification for the specialty boosts the quality of care you can offer and can help advance your career as well.

Check out some of the AMSN events this month and celebrate all the med-surg nurses in your life!

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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