Medical–surgical nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in the care of patients admitted with nonsurgical (medical) and surgical conditions. These nurses work to promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illness. They are advocates and health educators for patients, families, and communities. The medical–surgical nurse has an incredibly complex job. The entry-level medical–surgical nurse makes nursing judgments based on scientific knowledge and relies on procedures and standardized care plans. Nursing care is directed toward alleviating physical and psychosocial health problems. Advancing to an intermediate level, the medical–surgical nurse with experience becomes more skilled in developing individual and innovative care plans to meet client needs. With a broader base of experience, a more advanced clinician cares for clients with complex and unpredictable problems. The most common place of employment is the hospital.
RN preparation and often Master of Science in Nursing preparation are required. Certification is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, from the Academy of Medical–Surgical Nurses or from the Master of Science (MS) Nurses Certification Board.
CORE COMPETENCIES/SKILLS NEEDED
■ Excellent observation and assessment skills
■ Skill in recording symptoms, reactions, and progress
■ Skill in administering medical treatments and examinations
■ Knowledge of convalescence and rehabilitation requirements for patients
■ Skill in developing, planning, implementing, evaluating, documenting, and managing nursing care
■ Patient and family education skills
■ Ability to help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health
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