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Become A Registered Nurse Med/Surg

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Working As A Registered Nurse Med/Surg

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $70,806

    Average Salary

What Does A Registered Nurse Med/Surg Do

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Duties

Registered nurses typically do the following:

  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute to existing plans
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment

Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse may work with cancer patients or a geriatric nurse may work with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.

Many possibilities for working with specific patient groups exist. The following list includes just a few examples:

Addiction nurses care for patients who need help to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, and other substances.

Cardiovascular nurses care for patients with heart disease and people who have had heart surgery.

Critical care nurses work in intensive-care units in hospitals, providing care to patients with serious, complex, and acute illnesses and injuries that need very close monitoring and treatment.

Genetics nurses provide screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.

Neonatology nurses take care of newborn babies.

Nephrology nurses care for patients who have kidney-related health issues stemming from diabetes, high blood pressure, substance abuse, or other causes.

Rehabilitation nurses care for patients with temporary or permanent disabilities.

Registered nurses may work to promote public health, by educating people on warning signs and symptoms of disease or managing chronic health conditions. They may also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives, or other community outreach programs. Other nurses staff the health clinics in schools.

Some nurses do not work directly with patients, but they must still have an active registered nurse license. For example, they may work as nurse educators, healthcare consultants, public policy advisors, researchers, hospital administrators, salespeople for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, or as medical writers and editors.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They provide direct patient care in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health or pediatrics. CNSs also provide indirect care, by working with other nurses and various other staff to improve the quality of care that patients receive. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff. CNSs also may conduct research and may advocate for certain policies.

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How To Become A Registered Nurse Med/Surg

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed.

Education

In all nursing education programs, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in liberal arts. BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete; ADN and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. All programs include supervised clinical experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.

Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.

Many registered nurses with an ADN or diploma choose to go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the nursing profession and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 or more years of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, registered nurses must have a nursing license. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Other requirements for licensing vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing can give details. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, and pediatrics, among others. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a higher standard, and some employers require it.

CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must be able to assess changes in the health status of patients, including determining when to take corrective action and when to make referrals.

Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions. Nurses need to explain instructions, such as how to take medication, clearly. They must be able to work in teams with other health professionals and communicate the patients’ needs.

Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when caring for patients.

Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be responsible and detail oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients with various health needs. Organizational skills are critical to ensure that each patient is given appropriate care.

Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as moving patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.

Advancement

Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuous education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.

In management, nurses can advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions are requiring a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership, communication skills, negotiation skills, and good judgment.

Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations, among others—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.

Some RNs choose to become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.

Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers in colleges and universities.

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Do you work as a Registered Nurse Med/Surg?

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Registered Nurse Med/Surg Videos

What's a Medical Surgical Nurse?

The Nurse's Note | Meet Hannah, RN | Med-Surg Nursing

Nurse (Medical/Surgical unit), Career Video from drkit.org

Registered Nurse Med/Surg Jobs

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Registered Nurse Med/Surg Career Paths

Registered Nurse Med/Surg
Staff Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Assistant Director Of Nursing
7 Yearsyrs
Nurse Staff Nurse
Chief Nursing Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Charge Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist Respiratory Therapist
Director Of Clinical Education
11 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Case Manager Nursing Director
Director Of Staff Development
8 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse In The ICU Case Manager Medical Social Worker
Geriatric Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse In The ICU Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Nursing Director Director Of Health Services
Home Service Director
8 Yearsyrs
Nursing Director Clinical Services Director
Hospice Director
12 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Nurse Manager
Inpatient Services Director
12 Yearsyrs
Nurse Home Health Nurse Staff Nurse
Managed Care Director
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Case Manager Clinical Manager
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Case Manager Clinical Liaison Medical Science Liaison
Medical Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Nurse Manager
Nursing Services Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Nurse Staff Nurse
Patient Care Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Charge Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor Nurse Manager
Patient Relations Director
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Senior Technician Specialist Licensed Practical Nurse
Resident Services Director
6 Yearsyrs
School Nurse Health Educator Wellness Coordinator
Wellness Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Staff Nurse 5.9 years
Registered Nurse 5.2 years
Pediatric Nurse 3.4 years
Surgical Nurse 3.4 years
Step-Down Nurse 3.3 years
Telemetry Nurse 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Registered Nurse Med/Surg
Staff Nurse 15.4%
Nurse 4.4%
Top Careers After Registered Nurse Med/Surg
Staff Nurse 14.3%
Nurse 6.4%

Do you work as a Registered Nurse Med/Surg?

Registered Nurse Med/Surg Demographics

Gender

Female

86.4%

Male

12.1%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

62.6%

Hispanic or Latino

13.6%

Black or African American

12.3%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

53.0%

French

11.3%

German

5.2%

Mandarin

3.5%

Italian

3.5%

Korean

2.6%

Russian

2.6%

Chinese

2.6%

Hindi

1.7%

Filipino

1.7%

Tagalog

1.7%

Portuguese

1.7%

Japanese

1.7%

Persian

1.7%

Swedish

0.9%

Telugu

0.9%

Turkish

0.9%

Khmer

0.9%

Hawaiian

0.9%

Igbo

0.9%
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Registered Nurse Med/Surg Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.4%

Grand Canyon University

13.3%

Walden University

8.9%

Chamberlain College of Nursing

8.9%

University of Texas at Arlington

7.3%

Excelsior College

6.0%

Kaplan University

4.3%

Indiana Wesleyan University

4.1%

Western Governors University

3.5%

Saint Petersburg College

3.5%

Eastern Kentucky University

3.5%

University of South Alabama

3.0%

Ohio University -

2.7%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

2.7%

Indian Hills Community College

2.4%

South University

2.4%

College of Southern Nevada

2.4%

University of Alabama

2.2%

University of Central Florida

2.2%

Jacksonville University

2.2%
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Majors

Nursing

86.1%

Nursing Science

2.4%

Family Practice Nursing

1.9%

Business

1.5%

Health Care Administration

1.4%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.3%

Education

0.6%

Psychology

0.6%

Nursing Assistants

0.5%

Public Health

0.5%

Medical Assisting Services

0.5%

Clinical Psychology

0.4%

Liberal Arts

0.4%

Management

0.4%

General Studies

0.3%

Health Education

0.3%

Military Applied Sciences

0.2%

Computer Information Systems

0.2%

Law

0.2%

Biology

0.2%
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Degrees

Associate

34.1%

Bachelors

33.7%

Masters

15.6%

Other

10.2%

Certificate

2.2%

Diploma

1.9%

Doctorate

1.4%

License

0.9%
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Registered Nurse Med/Surg Videos

What's a Medical Surgical Nurse?

The Nurse's Note | Meet Hannah, RN | Med-Surg Nursing

Nurse (Medical/Surgical unit), Career Video from drkit.org

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Top Skills for A Registered Nurse Med/Surg

  1. RN
  2. Charge Nurse
  3. Telemetry
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Returned to bedside after Education Specialist position was downsized.
  • Performed charge nurse responsibilities on rotating schedule with co-workers.
  • Rotated among various clinical specialties including telemetry, medical-surgical, orthopedics, emergency room, geriatrics, rehabilitation, and psychiatry.
  • Administer medications and treatment as prescribed by a physician or according to established Policies and protocols.
  • Utilized the comprehensive nursing process to formulate patient care plans.

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Top Registered Nurse Med/Surg Employers

Jobs From Top Registered Nurse Med/Surg Employers

Registered Nurse Med/Surg Videos

What's a Medical Surgical Nurse?

The Nurse's Note | Meet Hannah, RN | Med-Surg Nursing

Nurse (Medical/Surgical unit), Career Video from drkit.org

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