What Is Med-Surg Nursing? How To Become a Med-Surg Travel Nurse 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

As the number one nursing specialty in the United States, med-surg nursing offers versatile work environments where nurses perform a variety of duties.

Even though med-surg nursing is a popular vocation, many people don’t know what med-surg nursing is all about.

So, what is med-surg nursing, and what do med-surg nurses do?

We’ll answer those questions while discussing: 

  • The different places med-surg nurses work
  • The types of patients they care for
  • The qualifications a med-surg nurse must have
  • How to find travel med-surg nursing assignments
  • And much more


Table of Contents



What Is Med-Surg Nursing?

Med-surg nursing, which stands for medical-surgical nursing, refers to nursing centered on caring for patients before or after a surgical procedure.

Because they treat patients with a variety of conditions and medical procedures, med-surg nurses possess a wide base of knowledge that equips them to provide specialty care for an array of patients.

Even though med-surg nursing can be a challenging profession, it may be an ideal way to work in an environment where you get to practice many different nursing duties to help you decide where you’d like to focus and how you can hone your nursing skills.

Since med-surg nursing is varied, the best med-surg nurses are skilled in:

  • Organization
  • Assessment
  • Prioritization; and
  • Communication


Do All Med-Surg Nurses Have the Same Duties?

Yes and no.

All med-surg nurses perform the general duties associated with patient care and safety. That’s no different from any other type of nurse, whether they are a prenatal nurse or an ICU nurse.

At the same time, a prenatal nurse has experience working with expectant moms, and ICU nurses are particularly skilled at caring for the critically ill.

While a med-surg nurse performs many of the same patient care duties as any other type of nurse, the duties each med-surg nurse performs will be wide-ranging and may depend on:

  • Each patient and their needs
  • The patient’s condition or disease
  • The type of surgery the patient is undergoing
  • The severity of the medical condition
  • The medical setting
  • And more


Typical Med-Surg Nurse Responsibilities

Because med-surg nurses treat adults of all ages with a variety of medical conditions, they must be skilled in the following tasks:

  • Caring for wounds and changing dressings
  • Giving medications
  • Recording medical history
  • Assessing patients
  • Monitoring patient reactions and initiating corrective action for adverse reactions
  • Responding in life-saving situations
  • Checking vitals
  • Performing blood tests
  • Updating records
  • Educating patients and family members on surgical procedures and after-care
  • Operating equipment, like:
    • IVs
    • Catheters
    • Feeding tubes
    • Oxygen tanks

Because the majority of a med-surg nurse’s shift will consist of these duties, it’s crucial that they are thoroughly trained and have experience in these procedures.

Though many of the duties may be related to ordinary conditions, like dehydration and pneumonia, med-surg nurses may also care for patients with other conditions like bowel obstructions and wounds, or who have undergone surgery. 

If you’ve been in the med-surg field for a while, and you are looking for a new med-surg travel nursing assignment, Trusted Nurse Staffing can help. Search for jobs on Pronto to find the position you’re looking for in your ideal location.


what is med surg nursing


What Does a Med-Surg Unit Look Like?

A traditional med-surg unit in a hospital may include rooms with patients who are either getting ready to go into surgery or who are recovering from surgery. 

Any particular med-surg unit may have patients with an assortment of conditions or who may have been transferred there from another part of the hospital, like the ICU or ER.

With a high volume of patients, the environment in a med-surg unit is fast-paced and varied.


med surg nursing


What Healthcare Setting Could a Med-Surg Nurse Work In?

Med-surg nurses can care for patients in different settings, including:

  • Inpatient clinics and hospitals
  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Military facilities
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Home healthcare
  • Telemedicine

Because a med-surg nurse is caring for patients recovering from surgery, many of those duties can be done outside the hospital as long as the necessary equipment is accessible. For this reason, med-surg nurses may find themselves treating patients outside typical healthcare facilities — like a home or wound clinic.


What Kind of Patients Do Med-Surg Nurses Typically Care For?

Even though med-surg nurses are treating patients who are preparing for or recovering from surgery, they may see patients with vastly different conditions.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but some common conditions that med-surg nurses treat may include:

  • Diabetes
  • Sepsis
  • Infectious diseases
  • Hip and knee replacement
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Injuries from falls
  • Urologic procedures
  • Stroke
  • Breast and gynecological procedures
  • Amputation
  • Infection
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Orthopedic procedures, like rotator cuff repairs or ACL repairs
  • General surgery, such as appendectomy, hysterectomy, or hernia surgery
  • Wound management

Since patients may also suffer from other conditions or comorbidities, it’s crucial for a med-surg nurse to know all of a patient’s medical issues so they can treat them properly.


Do Med-Surg Travel Nurses Have Specialities? 

Even though med-surg nursing can be an excellent way for a new nurse to gain experience and learn some special skills, med-surg nursing is considered a specialty itself.

Med-surg nurses are experts in their field and may receive special certification from the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (CMSRN) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).


med surge nurse job


How Do I Find Available Med-Surg Travel Nursing Positions?

With the high volume of patients needing surgeries of all kinds, med-surg nursing positions are often in demand.

And with newly registered nurses entering the field, the med-surg nursing specialty may be the place to start since many med-surg nursing jobs are available. 

If you enjoy traveling, med-surg travel nursing may be the perfect fit for you. 

Other nursing specialty assignments may be difficult to find, but the popularity of med-surg nursing and the widespread need make med-surg nursing positions the ideal choice for a travel nurse.

The bottom line is this: if you want a steady income in the healthcare field, med-surg nursing is a great option. And med-surg travel nursing is even better.

Trusted Nurse Staffing is dedicated to helping nurses find assignments with their specialty in their chosen location. And we promise to be with you every step of the way and will help you extend your current assignment or find your next med-surg nursing location. 

Get started and find your dream travel nurse job on Pronto.


what is med surg nursing


Med-Surg Requirements and Qualifications

Med-surg nurses must acquire one of two degrees:

  1. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) – The ADN is usually finished in two years, and after graduation, nurses may become certified to become an RN, LPN, or APRN. Many med-surg nurses choose RN certification since it is a basic requirement for med-surg nursing.
  2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – This degree usually takes four years to complete, but if you already have an ADN, you can choose the RN to BSN program. RNs who choose this route can usually finish the BSN in 12 to 18 months.

In addition to earning one of these degrees, med-surg nurses may need to meet these further qualifications:

  • Be a registered nurse (RN) with a valid license
  • Practice as an RN in a med-surg setting for at least two years
  • Accumulate at least 2,000 hours of med-surg practice
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam


Additional Certifications for Med-Surg Nursing

While you may only need an ADN to work as a med-surg nurse, BSNs are in demand. Some med-surg nursing positions may require a nurse with an ADN to complete a BSN, which will allow them to continue working while they pursue their degree.

Since med-surg nurses need two years of experience, it’s recommended to search for a position in an internship program. These programs will allow nurses to get the med-surg training and experience needed to learn how to do the job well.

Med-surg nurses may also become certified by taking the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) exam, which may also open the door to higher pay.


what does a med surg nurse do


Who Might a Med-Surg Assignment Be Right For?

Because of the fast pace and the varied duties of a med-surg nurse, this job might be a good fit for someone with the following qualities:

  • Responds well under pressure
  • Works well under stressful conditions
  • Communicates well with all team members, patients, and family members
  • Works well with the team and pitches in to help others when needed
  • Possesses emotional intelligence to navigate patients’ feelings and frustrations
  • Has concern for patients and their satisfaction
  • Possesses relational skills to support and comfort patients
  • Has strong assessment skills
  • Shows confidence in their instincts
  • Practices excellent time-management


Is It Difficult To Be or Become a Med-Surg Nurse?

As with every job, med-surg nursing may also come with some challenges.

Med-surg nursing may require working long hours and working with many patients throughout their shifts.

The following can also make med-surg nursing a stretching job:

  • Enduring high-stress levels
  • Dealing with difficult patients or family members
  • Exposure to potentially infectious diseases
  • Coping with extreme emotional situations
  • Physical demands of med-surg nursing


Find Your Next Med-Surg Travel Nursing Assignment With Help From Trusted Nurse Staffing

Trusted Nurse Staffing is poised and ready to help you find the med-surg travel nurse job you’ve been waiting for.

Searching for jobs on Pronto couldn’t be easier. 

Simply click on the map to see available jobs in that location. You can also filter your search to find what you’re looking for by using the following criteria:

  • Profession
  • Specialty
  • Facility
  • Location
  • Pay
  • Shifts

Once you’ve found a position you’d like to pursue, we work for you to get you a contract with the pay and benefits you want. We’ll walk you through signing the contract, setting up housing, gathering necessary documents, and much more.

And when your assignment is over, we’ll help you find your next job in your dream location or work out all the details to renew your current assignment.

You can be assured that Trusted Nurse Staffing values each nurse that we work with by providing jobs with excellent pay along with benefits like sign-on bonuses, stipends, and health benefits.

Begin your search on Pronto today!