Medical/Surgical nursing has evolved from an entry level position to an adult health specialty. It is no longer viewed as a stepping stone but rather the backbone to every healthcare institution. Considering the depth of this specialty, it is easily one of the largest groups of practicing medical professionals. They comprise more than fifty percent of nurses working in hospitals. Med/Surg nurses care for the adult patient in many settings, such as inpatient care units, clinics, home health care, ambulatory care units, long-term care nursing homes, surgical centers and universities to just name a few. The med/surg nurse is on the front line every day and on the cutting edge of what is new and evolving.
Because medical/surgical nursing is a specialty, they have their own professional organization, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). The AMSN is dedicated to fostering the excellence in adult health med/surg nursing. Nurses have the opportunity to earn certification as a Certified Medical Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN). An exam is offered in over forty states across the United States. The AMSN also has a mentoring program, Nursing Nurturing Nurses (N3).
Medical/Surgical Nursing is a challenging but rewarding specialty. Med/Surg nurses manage large numbers of patients each day. They juggle assignments, do assessments, administer care, treatments and medications then document everything. The AMSN predicts that the challenges for nurses are mounting. Nurses are working in a world in which patients have more chronic illnesses and co-morbidities which leads to longer inpatient stays. It is not uncommon for each patient to need 10 to 12 medications a day. That number jumped 71% from 1994 to 2005. In addition, the people who have chronic illnesses are living longer and this increases the complexity of caring for these patients. The AMSN also predicts that med/surg nurses will feel the impact of the additional 30 million Americans who are enjoying the healthcare reforms.
The AMSN realizes that more and more demands are put on nurses but also feels that nurses can take advantage of the benefits of changes rather than feel overwhelmed by it. There is technology and pharmacology that is new and exciting for patients. Nurses are encouraged to stay current with practices by reading nursing journals and visiting the AMSN’s website. Nurses are also encouraged to pursue professional development and to focus on their own self-care. Med/Surg nurses are resilient; coming back the next day to start all over again. Every nurse knows that the greatest reward is to see someone’s quality of life improve because of their efforts.