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i dislike med surg

dcwang dcwang (Member)

I just started nursing school and am doing my first clinical rotation. I've volunteered before, but nursing school will confirm my interests. I always knew med-surg wasn't my thing from the first day of my rotation, I know I would hate working med-surg. As a new grad I'll probably not have a choice. Yes, you'll learn a lot, but the patients there are very sick. A nurse has 4 pts max (I'm in CA). Always calling the MD, patient families who are overly demanding. I just needed to vent it.

What do you nursing students think of med-surg?

I think you should keep an open mind. Just about nobody does as a grad what s/he planned to do as a student, because life happens AND you learn more so you make different decisions as you develop more mature and nuanced opinions.

By all means, ask every nurse you see why they do what they do, and perhaps more importantly, why they don't do what they don't do. You will get a far more well-rounded picture of the options our profession affords you.


Specializes in Med-Surg, Emergency. Has 2 years experience.

Hated med-surg as a student. Took a job on a med-surg floor and LOVE it. It's completely different for me than my school experience! :)

windsurfer8, BSN

Specializes in Psych/Military Nursing. Has 14 years experience.

I think you are in nursing school and Nurses work in Med/surg. You say "I know I would hate working med-surg" ok??? "always calling the MD" and "patient families are overly demanding" Those are some serious generalizations. Those things are called "NURSING". Do you plan to have a nursing job where you don't deal with patients families? Maybe they are not "demanding"...maybe they are "concerned". Nursing isn't about YOU..it is about your patients. Why exactly do you want to be a nurse?

No i'm not a nurse yet, but those are things i've seen and i'll keep an open mind, as jobs are hard to come by that i'll probably take any in CA. different nurses have told me why they chose their specialized field.

yes, i want to be a nurse because i want to take care of ppl and provide patient care,making a difference for others, and most of all for financial ability. the level of acuity on the med-surg floor i rotate at is very high. sometimes i wonder, how much can we still do for the patient, they are so sick end of life care would probably relieve their pain more than trying to treat them.

the family is concerned, yes, but sometimes they do not treat the nurses politely or with courtesy/respect, and forget that the nurse has other patients as well. i like taking care of people, but am naturally an introvert, and like devoting my time to just one patient, and therefore, currently i've an interest in OR/PACU, but who knows where i'll end up.

@windsurfer- what specialty are you in? notice i'm not a nurse yet, and i posted in the nursing STUDENT forum... just clarifying


Specializes in Med-Surg, Emergency. Has 2 years experience.

and therefore, currently i've an interest in OR/PACU, but who knows where i'll end up.

That's kinda "funny" to me because that's EXACTLY where my interests were before I took my current job. I did my precepting in recovery services at a small hospital and applied to/was accepted for an OR internship around here that, unfortunately, wouldn't have worked out for me with scheduling. I wish you the best of luck in figuring out just which area of nursing is right for you, and I can honestly tell you that (as a VERY new grad) being a nurse is much different than being a nursing student :)

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

A nurse has 4 pts max (I'm in CA).
Actually, nurses who work in general med/surg have a legally mandated maximum of five patients in CA. It's the specialty med/surg floors such as telemetry or cardiac that staff four patients to each nurse.

However, you do have a choice to not work med/surg. In a decade of nursing I've managed to avoid the acute care hospital altogether. I simply do not see why so many new nurses would willingly submit themselves to the craziness of med/surg and bust their asses for so very little in return.

I couldn't care less if I never learned another procedural nursing skill for the rest of my life as long as I have good work/life balance and steady income.

my instructors remembered back in the day when they had 10, 15 pts. how's that possible???

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

my instructors remembered back in the day when they had 10, 15 pts. how's that possible???
Patients were not as acutely ill back in the day. 30+ years ago, it was normal for a patient to spend a week in med/surg for a diagnosis such as 'bed rest' after an open cholecystectomy, but nowadays these patients get their bed rest at home after a same-day surgery. If your patients have a low acuity level, you can safely provide care for more of them.

The patients you see on today's med/surg floors would have been sick enough to qualify for an ICU bed 20 years ago. Today's ICU patients would have been dead 20 years ago.

A CNA can have 12-15 patients for basic baths, toileting, feeding, walking ... I did it all the time. The RNs/LPNs did the meds and treatments. You get really good at time management and assessing what people can do for themselves while you do something else. Invaluable experience.


Specializes in Cath/EP lab, CCU, Cardiac stepdown. Has 3 years experience.

Well, I work on a cardiac floor and let me tell you, you're calling the MD a lot about electrolytes, rhythms, incisions, and order clarifications. And every unit will have their "needy" patients. So it isn't just med surg.

finding a job these days in CA as a new grad is very very hard that i'd take any job offered when i graduate.

eventually for me, lifestyle/pay/job satisfaction will be hte most important for me. does anyone have any experience about NPs in pain management? i've volunteered at a pain management clinic, and sometimes the MDs would get off very early in the afternoon.

Jensmom7, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 36 years experience.

my instructors remembered back in the day when they had 10' date=' 15 pts. how's that possible???[/quote']

To put it in perspective, patients that are seen in Home Care or Outpatient settings today would have been the patients we saw in Med Surg back in the day (talking mid 70s to 80s here).

The people on Med Surg today would have been in ICU. Or the Morgue.

In other words, Med Surg patients just weren't generally as sick back then as they are now. I remember a lady who spent an entire Summer in the hospital for back pain and cervical traction.

God, I feel old lol.

Edited by Jensmom7

sissiesmama, ASN, RN

Specializes in ER, TRAUMA, MED-SURG. Has 22 years experience.

my instructors remembered back in the day when they had 10, 15 pts. how's that possible???

Hi - my hubby and I are "old nurses" - I graduated from nursing school in 91, and he finished 5 or 6 yrs before me. I worked med-surg when I graduated; that was pretty much a given (I wanted to work either ER/Trauma or L and D but you had to get at least a year of MS first)

Anyway, it was a routine shift to be assigned 10 patients each. The max I can remember having was 13 - and that was a nightmare!

Good luck to you!

Anne, RNC


Specializes in Emergency/Trauma/LDRP/Ortho ASC. Has 3 years experience.

I work in the all coveted L&D and ER and guess what I spend much of my day doing? Calling MDs and diffusing demanding families.

I have a very negative reaction to med-surg in nursing school and at my last hospital job. The nurses there were the most stressed and miserable group of people I've ever seen. They always seem like they are moments away from a complete mental breakdown. The nurses who work in every other dept seem like they are under control and like their jobs. I will never work med-surg out of my own free will.

Idk. I think your expectations play alot into it too. I'm starting nursing school in the fall and I expect med surge to be difficult, and right now it's not my dream job, but I refuse to expect to hate it.

If I go into it expecting to learn as much as I can, I figure I'll have less time to dwell on any unpleasant aspects.

They say you learn a lot on med surg floor and yes it's true. Many pts on the floor are diabetic with multiple chronic conditions. On my first day, I helped change a dressing