Medical-Surgical Nurses Week: It’s OUR Week

It's Medical-Surgical Nurses Week: November 1-7th
CEO’s November Message for the AMSN Blog

November 1st of each year is Medical-Surgical Nurses Day.

The first ever Med-Surg Nurses Day was celebrated by AMSN in 2000, 22 years ago. Since then, we’ve been celebrating medical-surgical nurses from around the country and the world during Medical-Surgical Nurses Week (#MSNW22) from November 1-7th.

Unfortunately, many in health care still debate whether medical-surgical nursing is a specialty. I think there are several reasons for this, and here are just a few.

Be proud of the difference you make in patient care. Challenge misconceptions, educate your peers, advocate for your specialty.

  1. Medical-surgical nursing has traditionally been a core part of the nursing curriculum. It is taught early in nursing school and every nursing student does clinical rotations in med-surg, which makes it feel like a foundational or entry-level role rather than a specialty.
  2. The scope of medical-surgical nursing is incredibly broad. Where most specialties focus on a narrow scope, whether it be a body system (cardiology, orthopedics, or neurology) or a physical practice setting (the intensive care unit, operating room, or emergency department) medical-surgical nursing is much more difficult to articulate and narrow down in the same way. This can make med-surg feel more like a generalist role than a specialty one.
  3. Some other practice settings, like intensive care, the operating room or emergency department, require additional training to care for patients. Traditionally, they also required at least two years of experience in med-surg before nurses were able to apply for those positions. This further reinforces the ‘entry-level’ perspective of medical-surgical nursing.
  4. The world is fundamentally made up of hierarchies. They exist everywhere, including in the medical system. In much the same way as there are hierarchies in medicine, there are hierarchies in nursing. These hierarchies are based on things like barriers to entry, additional training requirements and perceived value. This results in medical-surgical nursing being seen as ‘less than’ other practice settings.

For these reasons, and more, there is a misperception that medical-surgical nursing is not a specialty. This perspective is perpetuated in schools of nursing, in the practice setting, and even in other health care professions. Understanding the reasons behind the perception provides us with the ability to change the narrative. Be proud of where you practice. Be proud of the difference you make in patient care. Challenge misconceptions, educate your peers, advocate for your specialty.

Medical-surgical nursing is a specialty. We know it and you know it. During Med-Surg Nurses Week, let’s spread the word so that everyone knows it.

PS.. Don’t forget to follow AMSN on all our social media platforms. Use #MSNW22 all week so AMSN can find your posts and share your Med-Surg pride!

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