Every time you visit a hospital to see someone admitted, you will see a nurse who takes care of you and checks on you. Chances are that he or she is a medical-surgical nurse.
What is Medical surgical nursing?
Medical surgical nursing is a huge department in every country and nurses who study medical-surgical nursing are generally employed in hospitals and care units where they take care of adult patients who are acutely ill or are recovering from surgery. Even beyond the hospital ward, you will find medical surgical nursing students working in ambulatory care, HMOs, home health care and inpatient clinics. There is also a high demand for medical surgical nurses in the military and national defence camps. From administering the medications of patients to informing the patient’s family, from admitting new patients to the hospital to discharging cured patients – everything falls under the responsibilities of the medical surgical nursing staff.
Medical surgical nurses are basically healthcare professionals who act as the coordinating bridge between a patient and the resident doctor in a medical facility. Since patients and their families generally approach the medical-surgical nursing staff, they need to have a vast knowledge of all types of diseases and how the human body functions. They also need to have critical thinking skills and should be able to work calmly even under immense pressure. They must be alert and prepared to handle any crisis.
10 qualities that every medical surgical nursing student should possess
- Should be amiable
Since medical surgical nurses are the coordinating link, they must have excellent communication skills. They should be easy to talk to so that the patients can approach them whenever they need assistance. Since they have to shoulder the mantle of giving mental support to patients too, they need to be empathetic listeners. They are also assigned the job of communicating with the families of the patients. Therefore, they should be compassionate speakers too.
- Should be emotionally stable
The job of a nurse comes at the cost of mental stress. Being surrounded by diseased patients can be emotionally taxing and can often take a toll on one's mental wellbeing. Therefore, a member of the medical surgical nursing staff must be emotionally stable so that he or she can accept suffering and death without getting affected. A medical surgical nurse should draw positivity from the heartwarming moments in nursing and gain strength from them.
- Should be empathetic
Not just for the medical surgical nursing departments, but every nurse should have empathy for the ones suffering. They should be able to make the patients feel comfortable by lending a shoulder and a patient ear. Research has shown that sympathy, when paired with care, can heal a patient faster. Therefore, a medical surgical nurse must share a good rapport with a patient.
- Should be flexible
A nurse cannot expect a 9 to 5 job where she can just leave when her shift is over. Therefore, medical surgical nurses should be flexible and willing to go beyond their usual list of responsibilities. They may be asked to work overtime, late nights, and even weekends according to the requirements of the patients placed under their care.
- Must give attention to detail
When it comes to medical surgical nursing, every detail has value. Unseeing the minutest detail of the medical history or the prescription of a patient can have fatal consequences. Therefore, a medical surgical nurse must pay attention to detail. He/she should not make errors while following instructions or noting down information about the patient. Even while reading a patient’s chart, a surgical nurse must not miss out on any detail.
- Should possess interpersonal skills
As mentioned earlier, the medical-surgical nursing staff acts as a bridge between the doctors and the patients. Therefore, it is important that a nurse has interpersonal skills so that they can work alongside doctors and other nurses. Patients generally feel scared to approach doctors with their queries. The nurses should strike a balance and cater to the needs of the patients on behalf of the doctors.
- Should be strong
Nurses working in the medical surgical nursing wing may often have to engage in physically taxing tasks like lifting a patient or running to and fro to attend to different patients in different units. Therefore, it is mandatory that a nurse should be fit enough to endure the long shifts and hectic schedules.
- Should have quick solving skills
When the doctor is away, the lives of the patients depend on the nurses. So, it is crucial that a medical surgical nurse has quick analytical skills. He or she should be able to address problems and solve them quickly. They should be calm-headed so that they can deal with emergencies effectively before it blows out of proportion.
- Should respond quickly
When it comes to medical care facilities, there will be emergencies and critical crisis. Therefore, he or she must always be prepared to battle the unexpected. And when such a situation arises, a nurse must respond quickly. They should be able to keep their head cool in the moment of a crisis and address the problem with a calm attitude.
- Should be respectful
A nurse should always respect people. They should always be tolerant of all cultures and traditions. Above all, they should place the wishes of their patient before themselves. And it is not just about the patients. They must respect their colleagues and other staff working in the hospital.
10 types of equipment and supplies that a medical surgical nurse must carry
A medical surgical nurse must have the following equipment ready:
- A stethoscope
- A pen light
- A carpuject
- Brain sheets
- A pair of scissors
- Alcohol wipes
- IV caps
- Medical tape
General Duties - what does a medical surgical nurse do?
The primary duty of a med-surg nurse is to provide direct care to patients in numerous settings. The care provided involves the following –
- providing medication on time,
- checking and keeping track of the patient’s vitals, change dressings,
- starting a new IV line
- other tasks that help patients recuperate.
From outpatients in an outdoor medical facility to in-house at hospitals and nursing homes – medical surgical nurses are supposed to take care of all kinds of patients. They are stationed at urgent-care centers and surgical centers too where they take care of patients going into surgery or patients recovering from surgery. They are also supposed to assist doctors in carrying out activities beside surgical procedures.
Medical-surgical nurses are entrusted with the duty to provide immediate medical help to the patients under their care. Besides physical help, they are also supposed to provide mental support to patients under their care.
Medical-Surgical Nursing and ICU Nursing – how does it differ?
Here are a few points of difference between a medical surgical nurse and an ICU nurse.
- The number of patients - Since the general medical-surgical ward is bigger, the medical surgical nurses have to handle 6 to 8 patients per shift. However, the ICU nurse generally has to deal with just two patients, but those 2 patients take up much more time due to the critical care that needs to be given to them.
- Types of equipment used – The equipment used by the medical-surgical nursing staff is very simple. They have to use IV pumps, compression devices and other standard equipment as opposed to the use of ventilator by an ICU nurse.
- The intensity of care – The stress that an ICU nurse has to go through remains unmatched when it comes to taking care of the patients under them. However, a med-surg nurse may also have to assist in several surgical procedures that are done at the bedside. And since the doctor isn’t always available in the general ward, unlike in the ICU, a med-surge nurse has to be ready for them always.
Clinical problems faced my medical surgical nurses – assessment and management
The job of a nurse is not an easy one, and it comes with its own share of problems. Here are some of the common challenges that a nurse in the medical surgical department faces:
- Workplace anxiety
Having to work amid patients often takes a toll on the mental health of a nurse. They usually are victims of depression.
However, measures have been taken to counter this problem. Nurses need to attend regular counselling sessions to stay mentally fit.
- Workplace violence
Since nurses have to communicate bad news with the families of the patients, things often get violent when a family member cannot cope with the news and attack the nurse instead. Female nurses also face sexual assaults from patients.
Hospitals and nursing homes now have Nurses Association and Unions to address such issues and maintain workplace safety.
- Long working hours
Medical-surgical nurses work long shifts and serve overtime most often. Extended shifts result in fatigue which inevitably leads to medical mistakes. And not only energy burnout, nurses also feel dissatisfied working in a depressed environment for long hours. Most nurses leave their jobs for not being able to give enough time to their family.
To solve this problem, labor laws have been initiated stating the hours beyond which a nurse cannot be retained at work.
- Health hazards
Nurses face a number of workplace hazards each day while just doing their jobs. Be it exposure to bloodborne pathogens, to surgical injuries or dermatitis due to excessive hand washing – they always run a risk of occupational hazards.
Hospitals and health systems have put forward a foot to take measures to protect their workforce. Nurses are given advanced equipment to avoid cuts and other injuries. They are also given several vaccinations so that they can protect themselves from harmful disease borne germs.
Salary and Career Scope of Medical-Surgical Nursing
Med-surgical nurses make up for one-sixth of the nursing profession and is a great job opportunity today. With several scientific and technological advancements in the medical field, medical-surgical nursing has become an important speciality.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for medical surgical nursing certification is likely to increase from 2012 to 2022 by 19% - faster than the average for all occupations. And since the cost of education to get a medical surgical nursing certification is low, this makes it an even viable career option. You can get medical surgical nursing books at reasonable prices, and there are several medical surgical nursing ebooks available online both on the Lewis model of medical surgical nursing and Lemone model of medical surgical nursing.
According to a survey, medical-surgical nurses made an average annual salary of $57,000 to $62,000 in 2017. In 2018, registered nurses earned a yearly salary of $68,450 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even the lowest salary that a medical surgical nurse draws is an average of $57,000 and that is the percentile for 25%. 75 per cent earns a percentile salary of more than $80,000.
If you are thinking of a profitable career to choose in nursing, this might be a good option. If you think that the course with the many assignments can get a little taxing on you, then you can always take professional help.
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