Celebrating Med-Surg Nurses Week

Celebrating Med-Surg Nurses Week

This week, November 1-7, celebrates Medical-Surgical Nurses Week and focuses on the work the careers of nurses in this specialty.

Organizations including the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board  promote this week to raise awareness of how med-surg nurses help patients, the skills they use and develop, and the career path of nurses who choose med-surg.

Med-surg is one area of nursing, but the skillset required of these nurses covers a wide breadth and depth of responsibilities. Med-surg nurses, the largest specialty of nurses, work in all areas of healthcare. They are hired to treat patients in hospitals, health centers, surgical centers, and offices. Med-surg nurses also find their skills in high demand so this role is a popular one for travel nurses as well.

If you’re a nursing student considering this as a career path, you might wonder what does a med-surg nurse do? Nurses in this role practice a high-level of hands-on care with their patients. They are treating patients who are ill with various ailments or they may care for those who are preparing for or recovering from surgery.

As with anyone in a nursing career, med-surg nurses need to have excellent critical thinking skills and must be confident in their work. They’re required to make immediate decisions and to notice when a patient’s health has changed in the slightest way.

As a med-surg nurse, you’ll be using the skills you have to assess the whole patient, so even if you’re treating someone who is recovering from a GI surgery, you’ll be watching for other symptoms or changes. You’ll want to be alert to changes in breathing, new indications of pain, and even changes in skin color that others may not see in their assessments.

Because of this essential high level of awareness and understanding of the patient, you’ll need to know a lot of information and be committed to a lifelong learning process. Med-surg nurses have all reached the professional attainment of a registered nurse. As a professional med-surg nurse, becoming certified is an additional step that shows you will provide the highest level of care to your patients and also demonstrates a dedication to the nursing practice. As med-surg nurses continue to advance in their careers, they should pursue recertification to continue learning of the latest developments and advances that will help them care for their patients.

If you’re already working as a med-surg nurse, this is a week to celebrate all your life-saving work. Be sure to check out the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses week-long celebration including several virtual events you can tune into for free. As an experienced nurse in this area, you know this career offers constant change and you probably see new conditions and challenges all the time. During a year of a worldwide pandemic, however, your career probably looks very different than any other year. The COVID-19 crisis has posed a serious threat to the physical and mental health of med-surg nurses even as it reaffirmed their commitment to helping save lives.

During this year’s med-surg nurses celebrations, reassessing how you can support yourself and your team is important. Talk to your colleagues to see how you can all work together when you are seeing more patients than you ever have at once. Talk with family, friends, or professional therapists to help when you are overwhelmed. And continue to reaffirm your career choice and know a world is grateful for the work you do.


Happy National Nurses Day!

Happy National Nurses Day!

There hasn’t been a National Nurses Day like this one. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that shows signs of simultaneously slowing down and speeding up according to location, nurses around the world are relying on their skills, their teams, and their resilience like they have never had to do before.

Minority Nurse turned to Summer Bryant, DNP, RN, CMSRN, president-elect of the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses (AMSN) and managing consultant of BRG|Prism Healthcare to talk about why National Nurses Day 2020 is so weighty this year. Nurses have been called on to work in ways they haven’t done before, with a disease they have little information about, and all the time they are worried about their health and the health of their loved ones.

Bryant says she’s not surprised by how nurses have responded, and she’s hopeful that positive change will follow when the crisis has passed. On National Nurses Day 2020, there’s a lot to be proud of.

Q: The current COVID-19 crisis has shown a clear spotlight on the critical role nurses play in our nation. It has also revealed some serious cracks in the system as well—especially in the protections nurses deserve and aren’t getting. In what way do you think nurses have revealed just how they are the backbone of healthcare?

A: I think this opportunity has certainly allowed nurses to demonstrate their courage and empathy for their patients and the communities they serve. We’ve seen nurses step up to this challenge without batting an eye—they are working tirelessly (sometimes without the correct protective equipment), and they keep going back to work day after day, night after night. They are also caring for each other, which much like a backbone, the support is necessary and vital to continue moving freely and giving of oneself to others.

It has also amazed me how many nurses have gone to New York and other hard-hit areas to work and help their fellow nurses in order to give them a break and support the need for extra hands. I think we’ve seen the ultimate sacrifice of the nurses who are living away from their families in order to protect them from getting the virus. Ultimately, nurses keep going to work to care for these patients that need them desperately, and without the nurses to coordinate the care from all of the different providers, patients may not be getting the best possible care that they could get during this pandemic.

Q: Going forward, how might this crisis inspire change and what kind of change would you like to see for nurses?

A: I’m positive this crisis will inspire change. I hope the change sheds light on what it is that nurses actually do when caring for patients and how integral nursing skills are to positive patient outcomes. Nurses are highly skilled in science and the technical skills needed to stop disease processes and improve patient functioning. In addition, I think this crisis has allowed the public to see the caring side of nursing—how hard they work to connect patients with their family members while in isolation, and how willing they are to stay with a patient for hours after their shift is over so they do not die alone.

Nurses have been the most trusted profession for many years now. I think now that people can see their work in action across the country—this will only solidify that trust even more.

Q: This is also changing how nurses see their work reflected in the country. Across the nation, people are seeing firsthand what nurses have known all along about how important nursing care is for helping patients. What kinds of ways are nurses maybe seeing their roles differently?

A: I think nurses are modeling the way where courage and sacrifice are concerned. They are doing this by being reassigned from their normal work environment in an outpatient clinic, the operating room, or in the quality department, and going to work in another area. They may be screening patients and visitors who enter through the hospital lobby, or they may be testing people for COVID-19 in parking lots. Many nurses are working in ICUs or medical-surgical settings to care for COVID-19 patients and using the team nursing approach which is foreign to many nurses.

They are proving to themselves how adaptable they can be and how they have value practicing in any setting where they care for patients. It is difficult to learn a job in a new area with different coworkers for anyone, but to do it during a pandemic shows grit and the flexibility to meet patients where they are. In fact, AMSN has tools to help nurses working in different capacities during this crisis—a self-assessment which can help nurses evaluate their skills and communicate with employers where they may best be reassigned.

Q: And many people, in seeing what nurses are doing, are concerned for these nurses’ health and well being. What would you like to tell nurses across the country on National Nurses Day who are exhausted and even traumatized by the events of the past six weeks?

A: I am one of those people who is concerned about nurses’ health and well being after watching the pandemic unfold in the last many weeks. I would like nurses to know that their sacrifice and courage is not going unnoticed. I am also not surprised at all at how they have stepped up to meet this challenge. I encourage them to seek out resources to protect their mental and spiritual health. I know many hospitals have increased these resources for the staff, and I hope they are finding time to take advantage.

I think it is extremely important that nurses find ways to care for themselves first and give themselves permission to work through the emotions they are facing every day. AMSN has many resources for self care as well as discounts for goods and services to assist nurses in caring for themselves on our website. In addition, AMSN is trying to support nurses in whatever ways we can including providing resources for staffing models, podcasts, advocacy for personal protective equipment and other necessities, and an online community in which to connect with other nurses experiencing the same issues.




AMSN Tool Helps Hiring in COVID-19 Crisis

AMSN Tool Helps Hiring in COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has sent the world into an upheaval. While the virus has continued to sicken people unimpeded by a vaccine or preventive medication, the healthcare industry grapples with an overwhelming  amount of patients even as many healthcare workers become ill themselves.

The intersection of caring for so many while losing workers to quarantine or illness is also creating an urgent need for more nurses. To help facilitate an efficient and accurate hiring process for healthcare organizations, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) recently released a free online tool to help match nurses with the specific competencies that are most needed in hospitals and organizations.

The self-assessment tool helps employers save time and effort when both are in short supply while providing a more direct process for identifying and placing nurses with the best skills match into relevant and appropriate roles. The self-assessment helps nurses assess where their strengths are—a long-term career advantage for them and a long-term advantage to the hiring employer.

“AMSN believes that competencies are the best way to assess performance and identify needed professional development opportunities for medical-surgical nurses,” says Terri Hinkley, EdD, MBA, BScN, RN, CAE, and AMSN CEO. “Nurses are stepping up and entering the workforce to assist during this crisis. We want to provide them with a tool that will help them critically evaluate their competence so they are able to contribute to the best of their professional ability.”

Hinkley says the self-assessment tool, which will be followed by a full competency model in the fall, helps employers in a couple of ways.  “It provides an out-of-the-box tool for employers to be able to best place new employees and contingent workers at a time where things are very disrupted and they may find themselves in urgent need for staff,” she says.

The available tool helps nurses perform a self assessment on domains of practice including patient and practice management and professional concepts, with sub-domains including the nursing process, patient safety, infection prevention, medication management, education of patients and families, leadership, and critical thinking. “It allows nurses to reflect on their individual skills specifically related to their practice setting, which means it’s tailored to the work they will be doing and is not a general competency evaluation,” says Hinkley.

And when the full competency model launches, it will it evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individual nurses, and it will include a soft-skill assessment and will be measurable to organizational outcomes, she says.

As employers use the self-assessment tool results, which focus on knowledge, skills, and abilities, they will be able to analyze specifics for each nurse and match those with the hiring needs in their organization. With such specific details, employers will also be able to consider the long-range fit of hiring a nurse as a potential-long-term employee. If the skills, abilities, and competencies in particular practice settings are a good match, the nurse’s career path and the healthcare organization’s nursing needs might provide opportunities for both.

As many nursing students are being called to help patients now, Hinkley says this kind of assessment is especially valuable. “AMSN also believes the self-assessment has great utility for nursing students who now find themselves displaced from their final semester of school and looking for employment,” she says. “It allows these individuals to assess their abilities to enter into nursing practice as graduate nurses, pending licensure, with a solid understanding of their level of competence in medical-surgical care settings.”

According to AMSN, healthcare employers who want to try this tool to help them navigate this urgent hiring need while making the best placements and assignments in a short time frame, should start by looking at www.AMSNStaffingToolkit.org, where they can follow additional instructions. Nurses who are asked to complete the 20-minute online self-assessment survey, can then print or email and submit to the appropriate manager.




Medical-Surgical Nurses Promote Broad Skills

Medical-Surgical Nurses Promote Broad Skills

Each year the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) celebrates med-surg nurses with Medical-Surgical Nurses Week.

This year, Medical-Surgical Nurses Week runs from November 1-7 and helps bring attention to this broad and complex nursing specialty.

According to AMSN, medical surgical nurses are a vital part of a healthcare team, juggling many different duties with top-notch patient care, including the following:

  • Being advocates and activists for their patients and patient care protocols
  • Using evidence-based practices to inform the patient care they give
  • Educating the public, patients, and families on healthcare and the nursing profession
  • Researching for healthcare improvements
  • Supporting others in the nursing profession and acting as mentors and proponents within the med-surg specialty
  • Working for the best patient care practices by encouraging and promoting certification and high standards in nursing

Med-surg nurses work primarily in a hospital setting and care for patients who have been admitted for illness, are recovering from surgery, or are receiving treatment for ongoing chronic conditions that require hospital care. Med-surg nurses are registered nurses, and they work with adult, not pediatric, patients.

Nurses in this specialty are trained to recognize, diagnose, treat, and manage a variety of conditions as the patient population and their health conditions are diverse. Nurses in this role are treating many patients at once, helping their team coordinate and provide the proper care, monitoring medications, and watching for changes that could indicate an improvement or decline.

These nurses also work with families of the patient to help them understand what’s going on, the treatment plans, what will happen after the patient goes home, and what they can do to help.

These nurses also help patients who do not have strong support systems, so they are able to receive necessary care when they go home using various community, government, and local resources to pull together a plan of care.

Because they do not focus on one specialty, med-surg nurses have vast knowledge about what could present for a patient. One patient who arrives with sepsis from a wound could progress to pneumonia. Or a patient who comes in complaining of a sore shoulder could be having heart troubles. Med-surge nurses are alert to these changes and watch for red flags for all their patients.

Med-surg nursing is the largest nursing specialty in the nation, with the AMSN estimating approximately 650,000 med-surg nurses in the United States. Most nursing students will complete at least one med-surg clinical as it offers a broad application of all the skills nursing students are learning.

If students choose to move into a med-surg career, they will want to obtain certification, which can be as a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN®) or as an RN-BC.

Medical-surgical nurses are the engine of many healthcare and hospital settings. Celebrating the hard work they do is a welcome recognition for their efforts.