Imprint 2023 January | Page 31

Medical Surgical Nursing : Career Springboard or Nursing Specialty … Or Both ?

By Andie V . Melendez

According to the State of the World ’ s Nursing report , published by the World Health Organization ( 2020 ), there are 27.9 million nurses worldwide . Workforce surveys by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing ( NCSBN ) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality ( AHRQ ) estimate that there are about 800,000 medical-surgical nurses in the United States . That is a powerful number , but what is a medical-surgical nurse ?

As defined by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses ( AMSN ), Medical-surgical nursing is the single largest nursing specialty in the United States and beyond . Medical-surgical nurses provide care to adults with a variety of medical conditions or who are preparing for / recovering from surgery . They have a broad knowledge base and are experts in their practice . Medical-surgical nurses have advanced organizational , prioritization , assessment and communication skills and are leaders in coordinating care among the interprofessional healthcare team . Medical-surgical nursing is practiced in multiple settings across the health care industry , including hospitals , outpatient settings , in homes , via telemedicine and other non-traditional settings . The specialty of medical-surgical nursing happens in almost every patient care environment because medical-surgical nursing is what you practice , not where .
So , what does it mean to be a specialty ? Currently , there are at least 96 nursing specialties ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics , neurology to podiatry , mental health and preventative care , informatics to legal and legislative , and more ( Gaines ). Nurses can select from a variety of areas to narrow focus and hone their skills and practice . One of the greatest features of nursing is the potential diversity of the job , offering the ability to shift gears and change specialties as you discover your passion , focus , and client population . Each specialty defines an area of client care where nurses narrow focus with advanced education , experience in the art and science of the specialty , and expertise through education and certification .
From Basic to Specialty Basic nursing requires initial education in clinical care , pharmacology , documentation , and much more to obtain state licensure . Many nurses and nurse educators have wrongly equated this general knowledge to be the definition and boundary of the medical-surgical nurse experience and the “ beginning ” practice setting . It has traditionally been considered the springboard to ultimately catapult into your choice of a nursing specialty . Oh contraire ! There is no nursing specialty that excludes the fundamental knowledge and competencies learned during nursing school . This includes medical-surgical nursing . So , what makes medical-surgical nursing a specialty ?
The AMSN enlisted a task force of nurses from eight states , varying levels of experience ( 2 years to 30 years ), three different time zones , and different shifts to define the specialty , embodying not just the art and science and evidence-based practice , but specifically identifying those attributes that truly differentiate medical-surgical nursing from other nursing specialties .
The AMSN Medical-Surgical Nurse Certification Board ( MSNCB ) offers support and certification to validate each certified nurse as an expert in the specialty of medical-surgical nursing . To certify as a specialist , you must have a required amount of experience in the specialty field to apply for the certifi-