Medical Surgical Nurse Jobs

What does a Medical Surgical Nurse do?

Medical-surgical nursing is a specialized field of nursing that focuses on the care of patients in a hospital or clinical setting who are recovering from surgery or preparing for one. Medical-surgical nurses are responsible for providing comprehensive care to these patients, including assessing their health status, administering medications, monitoring vital signs, and assisting with various medical procedures.

One of the key responsibilities of a medical-surgical nurse is to assess the health status of patients and identify any changes that may indicate a potential problem. This involves taking a thorough medical history, conducting a physical examination, and evaluating the patient’s symptoms and conditions. The nurse must also monitor the patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, and assess the patient’s pain levels to ensure that they are as comfortable as possible.

Another important aspect of medical-surgical nursing is administering medications and treatments. This involves ensuring that patients receive the correct medications at the right time, monitoring the patient’s response to the medication, and providing education on proper medication use. Medical-surgical nurses may also be involved in administering intravenous (IV) medications or infusions, which require specialized training and knowledge.

In addition to administering medications, medical-surgical nurses also assist with various medical procedures, such as wound care, catheterizations, and feeding tube insertion. They may also be responsible for managing wound dressings, monitoring patients with wound vacuums, and providing care for patients with various types of ostomies.

Another important aspect of the job of a medical-surgical nurse is patient education. This involves providing patients and their families with information about their condition, treatment options, and any potential side effects or complications. Medical-surgical nurses must also educate patients on how to care for themselves at home and how to manage their condition effectively.

Medical-surgical nurses must also be skilled at managing complex cases and working with a diverse patient population. These professionals must be able to effectively communicate with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, physical therapists, and other members of the interdisciplinary team, to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

The future outlook for medical-surgical nurses is positive, as the demand for medical-surgical nurses is expected to increase as the population ages and the need for healthcare services increases. In addition to the growth in demand for medical-surgical nurses, advancements in technology and the increasing complexity of patient care are expected to create new opportunities for medical-surgical nurses.


How to become a Medical Surgical Nurse

Becoming a medical-surgical nurse in the United States involves several steps, including completing an education program, obtaining a license, and gaining experience in the field. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a medical-surgical nurse:

– Complete a Nursing Education Program: the first step in becoming a medical-surgical nurse is to complete a nursing education program. This program can be a diploma, an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). ADN and BSN programs can be found at colleges, universities, and technical schools.

– Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam: after completing a nursing education program, the next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This exam is required for licensure as a registered nurse (RN) in the United States.

– Obtain a License: once you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam, you can apply for a license to practice as a registered nurse. Requirements for licensure vary by state, so it’s important to check with your state’s Board of Nursing for specific requirements.

– Gain Experience: after obtaining a license, it is recommended to gain experience in the field by working as a medical-surgical nurse. This will help you to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to provide high-quality patient care.

– Consider Further Education: some medical-surgical nurses choose to further their education by completing a master’s degree in nursing or a doctoral degree in nursing. This can lead to advanced practice nursing roles and provide opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

– Certification: medical-surgical nursing certification is available through the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board. Obtaining certification demonstrates your commitment to the profession and shows that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality patient care. 

To be eligible to sit for the CMSRN (Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse) exam, you must hold a license in the US or Canada, have 2 years of practice in a medical-surgical setting and have worked 2,000 practice hours in a medical-surgical setting in the past 3 years. The hours of practice can be as a clinical nurse, manager, or educator. The CMSRN (Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse) exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. The exam is 3 hours long and a passing score of 95, equivalent to approximately 71% correct, is required. 

Skills of a Medical Surgical Nurse 

Medical-surgical nurses, to be successful, must possess a range of skills, including:

– Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis: medical-surgical nurses must be able to perform comprehensive patient assessments and accurately diagnose medical conditions. They must have a strong understanding of anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, and be able to recognize and respond to changes in a patient’s condition.

– Communication and Interpersonal Skills: effective communication and interpersonal skills are essential for medical-surgical nurses. They must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, their families, and other healthcare team members. They must also be able to work well as part of a team and build strong relationships with patients and their families.

– Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: medical-surgical nurses must be able to think critically and solve problems in real time. They must be able to analyze patient data, make sound clinical decisions, and respond quickly to changing patient conditions.

– Empathy and Compassion: medical-surgical nurses must be able to provide emotional support to patients and their families. They must be able to understand the emotional impact of medical conditions and be able to provide comfort and support to patients during difficult times.

– Leadership and Management: medical-surgical nurses often serve as leaders and managers, supervising other nurses and providing direction to the healthcare team. They must be able to prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities, and work effectively with a team.

– Adaptability and Flexibility: the healthcare environment is constantly changing, and medical-surgical nurses must be able to adapt to new situations quickly. They must be flexible and able to adjust to new procedures, protocols, and technologies.

– Technical Proficiency: medical-surgical nurses must be skilled in the use of medical equipment and technology, including electronic medical records, patient monitoring systems, and IV pumps. They must be able to perform complex procedures, such as wound care, IV insertion, and medication administration.


Salary of a Medical Surgical Nurse

In the United States, a medical surgical nurse’s average annual salary is estimated at $115,416, with a median total pay of $121,890 per year, according to Glassdoor. Additionally, medical-surgical nurses can receive an estimated additional pay of $6,474 per year, which may include bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing.

It’s worth noting that salaries for medical surgical nurses can vary depending on several factors, including geographic location, years of experience, level of education, and size of the healthcare organization they work for.



Q: What is a medical-surgical nursing certification? 

A: Medical surgical nursing certification is a recognition of a nurse’s expertise and commitment to providing high-quality care to medical and surgical patients. The certification is typically awarded by professional organizations, such as the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). The certification demonstrates the nurse’s knowledge and proficiency in medical-surgical nursing and helps to advance their career. To be eligible for the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) certification, individuals must have a valid RN license, 2 years of medical-surgical nursing experience, and have completed 2,000 hours of medical-surgical practice within the past 3 years. The CMSRN examination consists of 150 multiple-choice questions, which must be completed within a time frame of 3 hours. A minimum passing score of 95, or approximately 71% correct answers, is required to earn the CMSRN certification.

Q: Where do surgical nurses work? 

A: Medical-surgical nurses typically work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. They may work in emergency departments, operating rooms, intensive care units, and medical-surgical units. They may also work in long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and home health agencies.

Q: Is medical-surgical nursing hard? 

A: Medical surgical nursing can be challenging and requires a high level of knowledge, skill, and dedication. It requires nurses to be able to assess patients, diagnose medical conditions, administer treatments, and manage complex healthcare situations. The work can be physically and emotionally demanding, but it is also highly rewarding for those who are dedicated to providing quality care to their patients. 




American Medical-Surgical Nurses Association. (n.d.). Certification. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from

Glassdoor. (n.d.). Medical Surgical Nurse Salary. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from,22.htm