Men and women enter the nursing profession to provide comfort and ease suffering.
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of distress which patients experience. Pain management interventions are diverse and need to be individualized for each patient. Suffering caused by pain affects multiple aspects of patient’s lives. Nurses are among the professionals most likely to care for patients with pain issues.
Studies identifying a need for nurses who possessed specialized training in pain management resulted in the development of a pain management nursing specialty since 2005; pain management has been identified as a nursing specialty area by the American Nurses Association. Nurses desiring certification as specialists in pain management must take an exam.
In order to qualify to sit for the exam, a nurse needs to meet several requirements.
- Applicants must have a valid active license as a registered nurse.
- Nurses must have a minimum of two years of professional nursing experience.
- Potential candidates are required to have accumulated a minimum of two thousand hours of nursing experience in a position which involves pain management. The two thousand hours must be obtained in within a three year period immediately prior to applying to take the certification exam.
- Applicants are required to have thirty hours of continuing education in the three years prior to taking the exam. Fifteen hours must be directly related to pain management.
The certification exam is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. It consists of 175 test questions. The test includes questions about physiology of pain, and the use of nursing process to manage pain. The examination contains questions about assessing pain and interventions which decrease suffering.
Pain management specialists work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. Hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers employ nurses who specialize in pain management. Expert nurses work in outpatient therapy settings and in pain management centers.
Pain specialists provide assistance to patients of all ages who require palliative hospice services.
Nurses specializing in pain management serve as resources to other health professionals. They provide up to the minute information about advanced pain management techniques. Pain management specialists serve as members of interdisciplinary teams that promote optimum wellness to patients suffering from a wide range of health concerns.
Certified pain management nurses provide services to people living with chronic pain. The nurses educate patients about safe use of medications In addition to teaching about pharmacological agents, pain management nurses teach patients about the use of complementary therapies.
Examples of complementary therapies which pain management nurses utilize include meditation, exercise, and stress management. Pain management nurses are knowledgeable about a full range of traditional and alternative modalities which reduce pain. They answer patient questions about a variety of treatment methods, including acupuncture and specialized non traditional techniques. Many pain management specialists offer acupressure, aromatherapy and mind body therapies.
The employment outlook for pain management specialists is expected to increase. Growth is likely to be strongest in the field of palliative, hospice and long term care.
Additional information about certification as a pain management nurse may be obtained from The American Society for Pain Management Nursing at http://www.ocfoundation.org or The American Nurses Credentialing Center. The website address for the American Nurses Credentialing Center is http://www.ancc.org .