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Get your med surg experience early!

Career   (774 Views | 5 Replies)
by Criello70 Criello70 (New) New

429 Profile Views; 10 Posts

I wanted to pass on some advice and help other avoid some pit-falls. 
I did psych nurse as my residency... as cool as it is, I think that I seriously handicapped myself right out of the gate

every time i try to pick up shifts on another unit, or even consider moving permanently, i get the same speech... "well... you are a psych nurse... you really don't have any med sug experience". 

med surg is a pain... its hard grunt work... but its like paying dues. you get the foundation, and you can go anywhere later. 

nurse residency programs are attractive, but if you dont get that foundation, you may find that other floor managers wont touch you, because they are from that old school "get your time in the trenches" (to be honest, i am beginning to think they are right) 

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

4 Followers; 6,140 Posts; 48,408 Profile Views

Yup. Right wrong or sideways, this is the way all of them think - mainly because those coming into an acute care floor environment without having had acute care before are at a significant handicap if they aren't given a good orientation. Most places don't have that kind of orientation to offer outside of the new grad internships/residencies.

It can be done but it is super hard to find. If you have a year or more of med-surg, you still can have trouble changing specialties, but not as much as if you start in something outside of acute care.

The biggest problem though with this kind of post is that there isn't an acute care job for every new grad that wants one. Some are going to have to start in psych or population health or SNF or LTACH or rehab or other types of nursing.

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34 Posts; 311 Profile Views

I had a coworker with 6 years of med surg experience and she complained how hard it was to switch specialty. Problem is the hospital has to value her years of nursing experience but she does not have the relevant experience that the other specialty units need. Up to this point, she's still applying and applying for all other jobs besides med surg, but she still hasn't had the interview yet.

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beachbabe86 specializes in Oceanfront Living.

61 Posts; 242 Profile Views

Things must be so different now...I went straight out of my BSN program to the SICU taking care of fresh open hearts. Then the ER and then the OR in a three year period.  

I had a very diverse and effective career including psych and then public health nursing.  All the while having never worked med surg in my life.

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gizmojamz is a BSN, RN and specializes in Transplant.

31 Posts; 1,052 Profile Views

I agree with this. I graduated from nursing school in fall 2018 and it took me 1 year to find the current hospital position I have now. Within that year, I do feel like my skills have collected dust, as I like to say. In between that time I worked a home care job which required very little critical thinking skills and at the minimum very basic assessment skills. So when I have had encounters for things like starting IVs I have to explain to my fellow nurses that it's literally been 1 year since I've even been in a hospital environment, let alone done any IVs as a student nurse. I feel like it's easy for staff to forget that you may not have the 10+ years of med-surg experience they do and that I'm not the fresh doe-eyed type of new nurse, I'm an "old new grad" who has experienced a lapse in exposure to the bedside nursing environment. I'm truly thankful to have the opportunity that I do now but I feel like things would have been different for me had I started hospital orientation within a month or two after graduating. Unfortunately, that just wasn't the path provided for me. 

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gizmojamz is a BSN, RN and specializes in Transplant.

31 Posts; 1,052 Profile Views

On 12/31/2019 at 6:59 PM, beachbabe86 said:

Things must be so different now...I went straight out of my BSN program to the SICU taking care of fresh open hearts. Then the ER and then the OR in a three year period.  

I had a very diverse and effective career including psych and then public health nursing.  All the while having never worked med surg in my life.

Yes, things are very different now. I'm a new nurse and I've heard stories like yours from other seasoned nurses who have also been able to get into their specialties with little to no med surg experience. I hope to advance my career by transitioning into public health nursing at some point after completing 2 years (I'm on contract) at my current job. Throughout my time in school, there was something about bedside nursing that I did not like and I think it's the lack of real interaction with the patients besides what boxes needed to be checked for charting. Oh how I wish things were different!

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