In 2014, the AMSN Board of Directors commissioned a task force of members to describe the distinguishing characteristics of medical-surgical nursing practice. The definition was revised in 2019 to reflect the changing practice landscape and will continue to be refined as the practice evolves:
Medical-surgical nursing is the single largest nursing specialty in the United States and beyond. Medical-surgical nurses provide care to adults with a variety of medical issues or who are preparing for/recovering from surgery. They have a broad knowledge base and are experts in their practice. Medical-surgical nurses have advanced organizational, prioritization, assessment and communication skills and are leaders in coordinating care among the interprofessional health care team.
Medical-surgical nursing is practiced in several settings across the health care industry, including hospitals, outpatient settings, in homes, via telemedicine and other non-traditional settings. The specialty of medical-surgical nursing happens in almost every care environment because medical-surgical nursing is what you practice, not where.