So Tell Me About Med-Surg


What can you tell me about working in medsurg? I am not a nurse YET but am so curious about the different units and my impatient mind wont let me rest until I learn about them.

Out of sheer boredom and as a much cooler distraction from studying for my A & P lab practical, I decided "just for the heck of it" to see what jobs my state has to offer an RN, most of the available jobs (or adventures if you will) require med surg experience. What is so special about it?




148 Posts

Specializes in medicine and psychiatry. Has 13 years experience.

Gives you a broad experience of the disease processes being treated. lots of IV's. Your learns organizational skills. Overall, offers the broadest experience. Its a good place to start although its very challenging.


1,078 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 5 years experience.

Med/surg clinicals suck! Its a lot of passing meds, more passing meds, wound care, diapers and bed linens! Its a good place to develop rockin' assessment skills though. Its very tempting to spend a year on a med/surg unit learning but its definitely not for me!


4,177 Posts

it is very demanding and hard work

it is also very good for developing assessment skills - skills that you can carry over to most any kind of nursing

however, it is not for everyone..pick and choose

I consider it the jack of all trades master of none. But now you can get the master lol or certification. Basically you get anything and everything. You learn tons of stuff, every single day is a new thing. I did med surg 10 yrs and am now in ltc for a while probably due to burnout. Its like in school when you learn the most important stuff for the everything that you need to know then you bridge on that knowledge and keep building. It is one of the hardest specialties because of the vast knowledge and pts that you see. That is probably why there are so many openings. You have the most pts in the hospital setting and the staffing usually sucks but you really learn time management and assessment skills and most definately IV's


4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

Guess I should answer this, as I'm proud to be a m/s RN!

All kinds of surgical procedures as well as non-operative special procedures. Anything where you are being ruled out for something or ruled in for something. My unit is primarily surgical, but our hospital also has other med-surgs for other non-surgical stuff: respiratory, neuro, cardiac, etc.

We see the latest in wound care and treatment. Lots of different dressing and treatment methods. Lots of everything! When I see once in a while on these boards that someone is bored with med-surg, I have to wonder what kind of a unit it was, or how very small...we're ANYTHING but bored. Usually far too busy to be bored!

But it's true it's not for everyone. The pace is very fast. Lots of prioritizing, and juggling lots of tasks to be completed in a short time. Pain management and infection control are biggies. Family members, like everywhere, can be challenging. Juggling MD requests, lab results, test results, whatever.

But no two days are the same, and even though we may say "the colon resection in 541" we know it's going to be different from the last one we had by that description.

Some hate it, some love it, some merely tolerate it. The reason you see 'med surg experience required' (or preferred) is because you DO get such a huge array of experiences there. You don't do one type of patient all the time... you get LOTS. You also learn assessment skills like no place else I've seen (and I float to every other unit in the facility).

I planned to be at it one year. That ended two years ago and I'm still there :)


21 Posts

i feel it should me mandatory for new nurses to start out on a med-surg floor because you start out learning the basics and building that bridge of knowledge that can be used anywhere you work. most students want to "specialize" right out of school. how can you build the roof without the foundation?

Specializes in Med/Surg, ICU, ER, Peds ER-CPEN. Has 15 years experience.

I chose med/surg over an offered ICU position after graduation and Love it! You see a great variety of patients/disorders, great for building on skills and learning new ones, time management is another great thing you master on a med/surg floor, on any given night I have 4-7 patients, when I float to ICU I get 2 maybe 3 stepdowns and it's a total breeze, on the rare ocassion an ICU nurse floats out to us they are hating life by midnight because they went from 2 patients (granted they are alot more critical and high need/maintenance most times and can keep you running just as much) that really didn't put out the call light or ask for much to say 4 who have mastered the skill of the call light and even tho they are completely capable of getting up flipping that light switch for themselves, seem to feel that since they are paying for nursing care, that's what we're for lol and all the incontinent ones seem to have a radar built in so they are all soaked at once (this seems to be a pattern for me lol) but it's also extremely rewarding in that our area is very small so you tend to see alot of the same patients over time, yet it's also hard when one of your frequent flyers doesn't make the return trip to the outside world :(


951 Posts

Has 9 years experience.

I love med/surg. Once I switched to mother/baby/peds, but I switched back after a while--the m/b floor was just too boring!

Our hospital actually has medical and surgical divided into different units, though we occasionally float between them. I think I would be happy on the surgical floor, too, but medical is where I have been for many years--as an aide, then a unit secretary, then LPN, and now RN.

Like everyone says, every day is different. There *is* a lot of passing meds, changing pads, and wound care, but those are the *tasks*--med/surg is so much more than that. It is prioritization, time management, assessment, reassessment, frequent interaction with a wide variety of disciplines, etc. You will have all types of pts, and you will learn so much. If you can do med/surg, you can do anything.

I will probably stay on this floor until I am too old to work bedside nursing. I really just love it. Something new and challenging every day. I'm proud of the type of work I do, and I enjoy it immensely. And btw, my floor has *excellent* staffing. Not all med/surg floors (or hospitals in general) have poor staffing. Ours is great.


313 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Another Med/Surg nurse chiming in here...

I started on this unit right out of nursing school, after having worked here as a CNA and Nurse Tech. At first it was overwhelming to know that I would have pts ranging in age from 30 days to 100 years. Also the range of medical/surgical conditions was intimidating.

Now, however, I really do love it! I love the different procedures I am in on, the different post-ops I have; I can really prioritize now, too. I've had opportunities to go elsewhere, but just couldn't leave. It is a learning experience every day!


210 Posts

I just got a job as a new grad in a med/surg unit at the VA and i'm scared to death, but excited. I know it's going to be really hard breaking in, but I can't wait. Med/surg was my favorite rotation in school because it isn't boring and you learn so much. No patient is the same.


121 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

Hm, I wonder if I should try to pick up a position in med/surg as a CNA. Just to "see" what it is like. I wouldn't be able to leave my hospice job though, I love it too much.

Any thoughts? Would being an aide on that floor be beneficial?


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