This position statement was archived on 11/7/2012 because it is now a standard of practice.


  • The medical-surgical nurse has a commitment to patients' safety and wellness, and they are accountable to the public for their actions. Accordingly, they are responsible for providing culturally competent care within the Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice.
  • Nursing has a distinct body of knowledge, known as nursing science. Reading and applying current research to guide evidence-based clinical practice are hallmarks of professional nursing practice.
  • The medical-surgical nurse must maintain knowledge of current practice trends, and is responsible for identifying and pursuing personal continuing education needs.
  • Membership and involvement in the specialty organization is a critical part of a nurses' professional identity.
  • Certification is a mark of professionalism and an appropriate professional goal for the medical-surgical nurse.


Professional nursing practice implies more than a competent level of performance in the professional role. It is a system that supports the medical-surgical nurse's control over the delivery of nursing care and the environment in which it is delivered. Many activities are included in professional nursing practice relative to the quality of care, including performance appraisal, collegiality with others in the profession, ethics, research and evidence-based practice, collaboration, education, and resource management.

The medical-surgical nurse demonstrates the highest level of professional practice by following established guidelines, protocols, and standards of practice concerning their respective patient populations. Professional nursing practice is essential to a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, and plays a vital role in achieving improved outcomes for the organization and patients.


AMSN supports the medical-surgical nurse's pursuit of professional development through their ongoing participation in educational opportunities, membership and involvement in professional organizations, and achievement of specialty certification.


Professional nursing practice is the practice of nursing and delivery of care to meet the needs of society. It is based on a theoretical framework that reflects the underlying philosophy of the environment.

Evidence-based practice is the process of shaping clinical practice based on scientific inquiry.

Continuing educationdescribes a lifelong learning process that builds on and modifies previously acquired knowledge, skills, competence, and attitudes of the individual.


Fritzsche, S. (2008). Standards of care and professionalism: Why it matters. Plastic Surgical Nursing, 28(1), 5-9.

Killian, P., & Waite, R. (2008). Evidence-based practice. Advance Nurse, 10(3), 25-28.

Mark, B., Salyer, J., & Wan, T. (2003). Professional nursing practice: Impact in organizational and patient outcomes. Journal of Nursing Administration, (33)4, 224-234.

Oklahoma Department of Libraries. (n.d.). Definitions. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from