Medical-surgical nurses are RNs (Registered Nurses) who work in hospitals, acute care units, home care and long-term care facilities to provide care for primarily adult patients before and after surgical procedures. They also attend to those who are being treated with pharmaceuticals (medications) to manage illness. Medical-surgical nurses also assume responsibility for assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluating health care needs of all assigned patients.

Duties of a Medical-Surgical Nurse

Medical-surgical nurses are essential players in providing care to adults who go through surgery. Clinical knowledge and skills, an ability to synthesize patient information and implement individualized patient care interventions and a capability to efficiently organize care for multiple acutely ill adults make these nurses an invaluable part of the health care team. Nurses who work on medical-surgical units have the opportunity to interact with and care for patients with a wide variety of clinical conditions. Some patients on medical-surgical units are recovering from surgeries. Others may be hospitalized for an acute condition, and others may be in the final stages of a progressive and chronic disease. Medical-surgical nurses also work closely with professionals from other disciplines in patient assessment, the development and implementation of individualized plans of care, recovery planning, patient and family education and discharge planning.

An exciting new trend for medical-surgical nurses has emerged in California. In addition to formal clinical practice, students study imagery, energy healing, relaxation therapy, herbs, and dietary supplements as a means of complimentary healing. They also learn about acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and Reiki; however, these practices do not include a view toward incorporating them into the traditional environment at this time.

Related Types of Nurses

Traditionally, medical-surgical nursing often is considered the foundation of nursing, as it is the clinical area where new graduates begin their practice to get basic experience. Medical-surgical nursing practices have served as the launchpad for specialization in oncology, cardiology, neurology, forensics and more. More recently, medical-surgical nursing has been looked upon as a specialty nursing practice, as it is not limited to a disease or a body system; the focus is holistic in nature and demands a broad knowledge base that spans adult health. Nurses who begin in this field are fit to work as triage or medical nurses or they can work into management and case supervision.

Medical-Surgical Nursing Degrees

Registered nurses (RNs) at all educational levels are capable to work in medical-surgical nursing. Many nurses in this field may want to pursue graduate education and develop advanced expertise with a specific focus in medical-surgical nursing practice. In this case, many schools may require two years of medical-surgical nursing experience before acceptance into a master’s degree program. Graduates of the medical-surgical nursing programs are employed in a variety of clinical settings and are eligible for national certification.

Online Programs in Medical-Surgical Nursing

  • American Sentinel University: RN to MSN
  • Benedictine University : MSN
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing: MSN
  • Grantham University: RN to MSN
  • Kaplan University: MSN
  • Keiser University: MSN
  • Ohio University: MSN
  • Spring Arbor University: MSN
  • South University: MSN
  • University of Phoenix: MSN
  • University of San Francisco: BSN to MSN
  • Walden University: BSN to MSN
  • Walden University: RN to MSN

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Top 10 Online Nursing Schools

University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix — BSN, MSN, and Certificate. The University of Phoenix is the nation's largest online university and currently offers several nursing programs at three different degree levels, based on previous nursing education and experience.

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Kaplan University
Kaplan University — Bachelor's, and Master's Nursing Degrees. Kaplan's School of Nursing offers specializations for nurse administrators and nurse educators.

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Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University — BS in Nursing (BSN) and MBA/MS in Nursing. Grand Canyon University offers a unique MBA/MS in nursing degree program that teaches students about the business aspect of healthcare, specifically nursing healthcare. Current nurses who want more business experience will find this may be an ideal fit.

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Liberty University
Liberty University — RN to BSN Degree and MSN Degree. The Department of Nursing at Liberty prepares students for baccalaureate level nursing, putting strong emphasis on Christian ethical standards and viewing nursing as a ministry of caring.

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Walden University
Walden University — M.S. in Nursing (RN Track), M.S in Nursing (BSN Track). Walden offers a wide variety of nursing degrees and certificates that are all accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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