Traditionally, new nurses have been advised to work on a medical surgical unit prior to seeking employment in a specialty area. Many new nurses balk at this recommendation, believing that they know where they want to work and therefore do not need medical surgical experience.
The wisdom of advising novices to work for a year or two in the field of medical surgical nursing has many merits. In addition, specialty units often will not hire a new graduate without prior experience.
Working on the medical surgical unit, a specialty in itself, provides a new nurse with a broad range of medical conditions to learn about. The nurse gains knowledge that becomes a solid foundation for the rest of his or her career. The patient population on a medical surgical unit is diverse. Nurses learn how to adapt care for patients of multiple ages and abilities.
Patients need education regarding their health. Caring for an assorted patient population affords the nurse the opportunity to develop teaching skills that are essential to becoming an effective member of the health care team. The new nurse learns what community resources are available and how to access them
There are vast numbers of procedures for a new nurse to learn. The use of simulators to teach nursing measures is becoming prevalent in nursing programs. Nurses graduate from nursing school with limited hands on experience performing duties on real people. Executing a procedure on a person is very different than practicing on a simulator. Medical surgical units afford the nurse the opportunity to practice a wide array of procedures. The large volume of procedures performed on the medical surgical unit also affords the chance for repetition which leads to expertise providing nursing care.
Serious, rapid emergency measures are less commonly required on medical surgical units then in some specialty areas. The new nurse needs time to develop critical thinking skills and speed at performing emergency interventions. The medical surgical unit can provide that opportunity. In addition, should an emergency occur, the novice will have the experience and support of seasoned nurses to learn from.
On the medical surgical floor, there are large numbers of experienced nurses who can help transition the novice to professional. Each nurse has something different to offer. Many teachers make a better rounded nurse.
Nurses on medical surgical nursing units care for several patients each day. Time management and delegation skills are honed by working on the medical surgical unit.
Specialty units can be homogenized in care provided, patient populations, and even staff attitudes. This is less likely to occur on the medical surgical unit. The nurse learns communication skills and effective teamwork strategies. Opportunities abound for learning about cultural mores and traditions.
Very few nurses spend their whole career doing one type of nursing. One of the benefits of nursing is that it does offer diverse opportunities. By having a solid foundation, the nurse will have more vocational choices for the rest of their lives .The medical surgical is unit provides that firm footing.