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The Great Med-Surg Debate

The Great Med-Surg Debate

Ani Burr | Scrubs Magazine

Another clinical rotation has finally finished! ICU was a great experience, actually, it really surprised me. All those pre-conceived notions I had in the beginning were just nerves. Now that it’s over, I’m finally realizing that I only have 9 months left of this program…and then I will finally get to sign, “Ani Burr, RN, BSN!” It seems so surreal, and as we finished our last day on the floor, I realized that I wouldn’t be working in a unit again until my last quarter when I get to precept! How incredibly exciting is that!?

I finally feel like I am getting the hang of it, like I really am going to be able to handle being a nurse. My new job has definitely helped boost my confidence too. I think that 9 more months will really get me prepared and ready to go. But as we were leaving the unit the other day, one of my instructors mentioned something to us. She said, “Specialties are nice, and you want to do what makes you happy, but you really want to get your adult med-surg experience in because you want to keep your skill sharp, you never know what job you’ll have to take on.”

So… I get her point, obviously. Med-surg nursing is essentially the basis for everything we do, and adult med-surg is where that experience is . But, what if that’s not what I want to do? At all? Yes, I could do adult-med surg, but I would rather do pediatric med-surg. I would rather do ICU than med-surg. In fact, I’d rather do just about any other specialty than adult med-surg (with the exception of Psych, since we all know how I felt about my psych rotation!).

It’s not that I don’t like the adults, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t get that “tingly” feeling I got with peds, or even OB. My feelings are that if you love something – if you truly love that specialty – then go for it! Why not do what makes you happy? After all, when you’re doing what you love, you’re bound to strive to do your best.

On the other hand, I understand where my professor and all others who’ve said it before her are coming from. Adult med-surg is where the skills are, it’s where you’re bound to see just about everything. I understand it, but I don’t believe it’s necessary.

Student nurses: What have you been hearing about going into a specialty right out of school? Is it med-surg first?

Seasoned nurses: What are your thoughts?

More on

In Student Nurse: Finding Where You Belong
In Nurse Manager: New Grad Vs. Seasoned Nurses
In Career Advice: Finding the Perfect Fit

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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    As a photographer for nearly 20 years, I found myself doing the equivalent to "adult med-surg" (Sports & underclass yearbook portraits) quite frequently. I was much happier photographing senior portraits, but it was the sports & underclass photos that paid the bills. Not glamorous or creative, but it kept me going.

    I would think that the same would hold true in my new career as well. As a student nurse, I would think that I would have to be comfortable and familiar with adult med-surg, and keep up with the latest developments in the field even if I were to move into a specialty that I enjoyed.

    It doesn't matter if you are a photographer, factory worker, or a nurse, one thing is certain - what you are doing today is most likely not what you will be doing in five years. It would be in your best interest to make yourself as marketable as possible to future employers by being able to do what is most likely to be available. Then you could move on to a specialty if the opportunity presented itself.

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