Is Med Surg Nursing the Right Fit? Find Out!

med surg job descriptionBy Erin Wallace

Med surg nursing, or medical-surgical nursing, is the single largest nursing specialty in the United States. RNs in the med surg nursing specialty work primarily on hospital units with patients who are either acutely ill with a wide range of medical problems or who are recovering from surgery. If you're considering a med surg nursing career, find out what sets med surg nursing apart from other nursing specialties and whether it might be a good career choice for you.

BROWSE thousands of nursing job opportunities at hospitals around the U.S. and put your med surg nursing skills to work. 

Characteristics of a med surg nurse

According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, the job description of a med surg nurse involves lots of multitasking. “They are the orchestra conductors, the movie producers and the air-traffic controllers of their hospital units,” the organization says.

A med surg nurse needs high-level critical thinking skills, expansive knowledge of disease states and body systems, robust management skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure.

NursingExplorer, an education resource website, notes that med surg nurses should have the following qualities:


  • A wide range of skills — ideally, knowledgeable in all areas of adult health
  • Able to act as a patient advocate and consider patient safety a top priority
  • Can function in different healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices and clinics
  • Able to provide care and comfort to the patient and their family, including providing respect and dignity in medical decision-making processes and end-of-life situations


Work and educational requirements for a career in med surg nursing

To become a certified med surg RN, you have to apply for a certification granted by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board. This certification lasts for five years, and eligibility criteria for applying include:


  • Hold a current RN license within the U.S.
  • Minimum 2 years of working experience as an RN
  • Minimum 2,000 hours of clinical practice in med surg nursing within the last three years
  • Completed 30 hours of continuing education in the subject area of med surg nursing within the last three years


How do I know if med surg nursing is right for me?

The answer to this question is deeply personal for most people, and only you can decide if it's a career you might like. But if you've been working as an RN for awhile, you've developed a vast set of skills and knowledge related to many areas of adult health and you enjoy a fast-paced working environment and the multitasking that goes with it, a med surg nursing career may be a good choice for you.

If med surg nursing sounds like something you might be interested in, talk to your nurse manager or consult the resources available from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and you could be well on your way to growing your nursing career.



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