Medical Surgical Certification

The Medical Surgical Nurse certification indicates specialization in providing nursing care to the medical or surgical patient within the hospital-based setting. The Medical Surgical Nurse is frequently employed to provide direct nursing care and nursing interventions to those patients who are recovering from acute disease, exacerbations of chronic disease, or those patients who require post-operative care.

In order to take the Medical Surgical Nurse certification exam, the applicant must be a licensed Registered Nurse with an Associate Degree or diploma from an accredited 2-year RN program. The RN must have worked at least 2 years in a full-time capacity as a Medical Surgical nurse, with at least 2,000 hours within the past 3 years. In addition, at least 30 hours of continuing education hours should have been completed in Medical Surgical nursing over the past 3years.

The Medical Surgical Nurse certification exam is offered throughout the year at testing centers across the United States. The RN has 90 days in which to take the exam after receiving the test admission ticket. The fee to take the exam is $230 for members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and $370 for non-members.

The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions with 25 of those questions used for pretesting purposes for possible use on future exams. The Medical Surgical Nurse certification exam tests the RN's knowledge of nursing interventions that are performed on medical and surgical patients. There are also questions pertaining to specific disease processes and potential complications of these diseases. The exam also covers patient education information, ethical issues, and professional standards.

Medical Surgical certification is valid for 3 years. At the end of that time period, the licensed RN must have completed at least 1,000 hours of employment as a Medical Surgical nurse. In addition, at least 75 continuing education hours should have been completed or other educational activities should have been completed as outlined by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The fee for renewal is $160 for ANA members and $290 for non-members as long as the practice hour and continuing education hour requirements are met. For those who wish to retake the exam in order to recertify, the fee is $230 for ANA members and $370 for non-members.
For more information regarding the Medical Surgical Nurse certification for the Associate Degree or diploma RN, go to or

Nursing Certification Central

Medical Surgical Nurse Practice Test

1. Using the average cost of a problem and the cost of intervention to demonstrate savings is:

A.A cost-benefit analysis
B.An efficacy study
C.A product evaluation
D.A cost-effective analysis

2. In Erikson's psychosocial model of development, which stage is typical of those entering young adulthood?

A.Identify vs role confusion
B.Initiative vs guilt
C.Ego integrity vs despair
D.Intimacy vs isolation

3. A 30-year old patient has been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. The patient says, "This is all my fault." Which of Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief is the patient probably experiencing?


4. A 68-year old man with mild COPD refuses to exercise because he tires easily. He spends most of every day sitting in a chair watching television. What is the most appropriate nursing diagnosis?

A.Ineffective health maintenance
B.Impaired physical mobility
C.Risk for disuse syndrome
D.Activity intolerance

5. Measuring the effectiveness of an intervention rather than the monetary savings is:

A.A cost-benefit analysis.
B.An efficacy study.
C.A product evaluation.
D.A cost-effective analysis.

Medical Surgical Nurse Answers and Explanations

Associate/Diploma RN

1. A. A cost-benefit analysis uses average cost of a problem (such as wound infections) and the average cost of intervention to demonstrate savings. For example, if a surgical unit averaged 10 surgical site infections annually at an additional average cost of $27,000 each, the total annual cost would be $270,000. If the total cost for interventions, (new staff person, benefits, education, and software) totals $92,000, and the goal is to reduce infections by 50% (0.5 X $270,000 for a total projected savings of $135,000), cost benefit is demonstrated by subtracting the proposed savings from the intervention costs ($135,000 - $92,000) for a savings of $43,000 annually.

2. D. Erickson's psychosocial development model focuses on conflicts at each stage of the lifespan and the virtue that results from finding balance in the conflict. The first 5 stages refer to infancy and childhood and the last 3 stages to adulthood:

  • Intimacy vs isolation (Young adulthood): Love/intimacy or lack of close relationships.
  • Generativity vs stagnation (Middle age): Caring and achievements or stagnation.
  • Ego integrity vs despair (Older adulthood): Acceptance and wisdom or failure to accept changes of aging/despair.

3. B. The patient is experiencing the stage of anger. People grieve individually and may not go through all stages, but most go through at least 2 stages. Kubler-Ross's 5 stages of grief include:

  • Denial: Refusal to believe, confused, stunned, detached.
  • Anger: Directed inward (self-blame) or outward.
  • Bargaining: If - then thinking. ("If I go to church, then I will heal.")
  • Depression: Sad, withdrawn.
  • Acceptance: Resolution.

4. C. The most appropriate nursing diagnosis for a person who is able to exercise but remains sedentary is risk of disuse syndrome because the patient is putting himself at risk for the development of circulatory impairment and muscle atrophy. Failure to exercise may also exacerbate his condition. While his health maintenance may be ineffective, it is directly due to of his lack of activity. He does not have impaired physical mobility or activity intolerance that precludes exercise.

5. D. A cost-effective analysis measures the effectiveness of an intervention rather than the monetary savings. For example, annually 2 million nosocomial infections result in 90,000 deaths and an estimated $6.7 billion in additional health costs. From that perspective, decreasing infections should reduce costs, but there are human savings in suffering as well, and it can be difficult to place a dollar value on that. If each infection adds about 12 days to hospitalization, then a reduction of 5 infections (5 X 12 = 60) would result in a cost-effective savings of 60 fewer patient infection days.

Med/Surg Nursing test blueprint and breakdown

Med/Surg Nursing Review Video

Med/Surg Exam Study Guide with Practice Questions


Last Updated: 04/18/2018

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