med/surg or L&D

Specialties Ob/Gyn


I am a nursing student getting prepared for "what to do after graduation." My sunt who is a nurse feels very strongly that I should not consider anything other than a minimum of one year med/surg (two years preferably), then go to where I would like to specialize. I know I want L&D. I do understand her point of getting my general experience first before I specialize. I agree with this, especially because I am thinking of doing home care on the side for extra money. The only concern that I have is that from what I hear there are many L&D positions available due to the nursing shortage. Also, I hear that a lot of those positions are filled out of senior practicums. I don't want to wait to gain my experience and miss out on the opportunity to get into the area of my interest. I would appreciate any input anyone has on whether to go med/surg or straight into L&D?




28 Posts

I graduated fresh from high school with my LPN. there was a prerequesite aht if you wnated to specialize, you had to have one year f med surg. At the time, I was very irritated...but after being a nurse for 9 years now (an RN for 5), I am greatful. If you have the basic broad spectrem knowlege that goes a long with med surg, you can do ANYTHING!!! I have since done Peds, PICU, NICU, Newborn nursury, postpartem, home care, and am now pursuing a career in lactation consulting. I think one year minimum is a must for new nurses. you can learn so much!!! good luck:)


6,620 Posts

I also knew I wanted to do L&D after grad. I did the bare minimum in med-surg (3 months) while waiting for a position to come up in L&D. It worked fine for me. I didn't see a lot of value in gaining experience on a floor that was COMPLETELY different from L&D anyways. Even nurses who have years of experience in med surg are still newbies on L&D, they got the same orientation I did and the learning came as easieily to me as it did to them. So I say do what is right for you. Don't listen to anyone who tells you whether or not you need a year of med-surg because you're the only one who really knows if you are capable of going into a specialty area or not.


252 Posts

If you want to get your foot in the door take an independant nursing elective in labor and delivery if you can spare the extra course.

I did this as a senior nursing student first in a trauma center then Labor and delivery. It was an incredible experience. Do it at the labor and delivery unit you wish to work in.

best of luck,



3 Posts

I strongly, STRONGLY suggest that you do at least one year of med-surg before specializing in anything, L & D included. Every hospital that I have worked in has a "float" requirement. This means when the labor room is slow, you can be pulled to other (usually med-surg) units, to fill in. Nurses I have worked with who went straight into L&D are horrified when this happens to them, and they usually are not very effective in the med-surg setting. How sad. Even though my year of med-surg happened a long time ago, it taught me how to organize and prioritize my care, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything!!


68 Posts

Yes, I think med-surg is the best place to start for any new grad. For an example, in the small (13 bed) LDRP in which I work, every new grad that has started there fresh out of school without doing time in med-surg has lasted less than 1 year ( out of the last 3 years). We're not eaters of our young: other, experienced nurses are still going strong even without previous OB experience. I believe that the difference comes from a self-confidence gained through experience on med-surg. It was there that I learned how to deal with difficult families, irate MDs and uncaring/ignorant adminstrators. It was also there that I discovered that, no matter where I go from here, I'm a great nurse and can function well in any unit. Of course, if I had been hired into OB straight out of school, I'd have gone rushing in... and probably quit after 6 months...;)


186 Posts

Hmmm...this thread is very interesting. I am a new grad who will begin working in a family birthing center on August 20. I will be trained in labor and delivery and cross trained in the other areas (nursery, postpartum, circulating for sections, etc). I'm surprised at how many of you are suggesting to go the Med-surg route first. I know that in my nursing class approximately half of the grads went to med surg while the rest are pursuing the specialties of their choice. One is already working L&D and says she's having a blast. Another two are working ICU and loving it as well. I've gotten into conversations with one of my friends who chose to do the med-surg route for a year first even though she knows that ultimately she wants to work in the NICU. I realize that it won't hurt her in any way to get that med-surg experience and indeed, it may even help her. However, if an opportunity had presented itself for her to go directly into the NICU then what would have been wrong with this? I guess I just don't see why you can't bypass the med-surg and, having a sincere love and passion for L&D nursing, pursue L&D first? The Nurse manager that hired me stated that she loves to hire new grads as they are like sponges- they don't know it all already and are open to learning. I can see how that would make sense actually. That's just been my experience but I wanted to share it. Shannon


47 Posts

When I graduated in 1983 there was a shortage of positions and too many nurses. L/D wouldn't talk to you w/out experience and all that was hiring was Med/Surg. My instructors insisted that everyone get a year under their belt then go on to whatever specialties interested you. I rebeled stating I would never work Med/Surg anyway and went the route of GYN clinic nursing. and was the first in my class to even get a job. ( $4 less /hr. than the going hospital rate). Eventually I was hired into High Risk OB and the hardest part for me was basic nursing skills. I had never dealt with IV's, Foley Cath's, Lung sounds, Dressings, pumps, etc.....This was the easy part for the other newbies. Me, I had several strong GYN years under my belt but had never put in a catheter!( at that point nursing school was far far away). I kinda learned things backwards and do regret not listening to my instructor. But the prior suggestion of doing a 3 month Med/Surg training may be enough for you esp. right out of school. OB is a different animal all unto itself. It combines all aspects of nursing other that telling moms to "push". You better know your stuff, you'll come to rely on your instincts and your gut more than anything. Good Luck!! Oh by the way I have never done Med Surg almost 20 yrs. later.

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