Guiding Your Nursing Student to a Career in Med-Surg Nursing

Two talking nurses
It's the perfect time for you to share your passion for medical-surgical nursing and encourage them build a career in our specialty.

It’s a busy time of year for nursing students who will graduate this spring. They are applying for jobs and considering the many options that are available to them. The pandemic and changes in health care mean that they have lots of job opportunities. Many are asking the question – “Should I work in med-surg nursing before I go to a specialty area?” 

This means it’s also the perfect time for you to share your passion for medical-surgical nursing and encourage them build a career in our specialty. As you work with nursing students on your patient care unit, you’re in the ideal position to notice those who have strong critical thinking skills, enjoy connecting with patients, and collaborate well with others. These are all qualities that will make them great co-workers in a few short months!

Here are a few ways that you can encourage nursing students to consider a career in medical-surgical nursing:

Reach out.

You know exactly what it takes to be a good medical-surgical nurse. Point out those skills when you see them. Let the student know that you think they have what it takes! They may never have thought about working on your unit. Your confidence in their ability might open them to the possibility.

Explain why medical-surgical nursing IS a specialty!

Many nurses still do not think of med-surg nursing as a specialty. Unfortunately, this misconception is also present in nursing programs, so this may be a new idea. Explain the unique skills, knowledge, and opportunities that medical-surgical nurses have.

Share why you love medical-surgical nursing.

You may have stayed in medical-surgical nursing because of the variety of patients you care for, the new challenges, the teamwork, or the opportunity to learn something new every day. Sharing your “spark” might inspire a student to see the possibilities in med-surg nursing.

Describe how you’ve advanced your career in med-surg nursing.

You have probably advanced in your career in many ways – learning new skills, becoming certified, taking on a clinical leadership role, attending a convention, participating on a unit committee, or being a super-user for new equipment. Students may think of med-surg nursing as a steppingstone to another unit, not as a specialty where they can build their career.

They may not be aware of the ways that nurses can continue to learn and take on additional responsibilities as a clinician. Sharing your experience may help them see that medical-surgical nursing is a great place to have a long-lasting, fulfilling career.

Many new nurses have told me that they accepted a position on a specific unit because the staff were supportive during their clinical experience, or a nurse told them that they would fit into the team well.

Sharing what makes you stay in medical-surgical nursing and inviting them to join the specialty might be instrumental in helping a student start an exciting new career path and building your patient care team!



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