Pain Management Nurse

Job Description and Duties

A pain management nurse is a licensed, registered nurse who treats patients with chronic or acute pain due to an injury or an illness. They assess patients and assist them in learning to manage their own chronic or symptom-related pain. As a pain management nurse, you would coordinate the patient’s care plan with physicians and other healthcare team members, coordinating the patient’s care. You could work in a hospital or in an outpatient clinic, or even in a rehabilitation center or nursing home. Typical duties for a pain management nurse can vary immensely, though they are still about assessing the patient’s level of pain, treating that, and evaluating improvement. Most pain management nurses have additional training in pharmacology, as an important part of their job is administering and monitoring the effects of medication that has been prescribed by doctors. Educating the patient about their pain medication and other measures they can take to alleviate pain is also an important part of their job. These nurses need to demonstrate empathy, appreciate cultural differences in beliefs about pain, be comfortable with alternative pain therapies, and possess good medical assessment skills when evaluating patients’ complaints of pain or discomfort.

Pain Management Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and will continue to grow for many years as the healthcare industry strives to meet the growing healthcare needs of an expanding aging population. Specialists like pain management nurses will be in even more demand, as healthcare becomes more and more specialized. The mean annual nurse’s salary is $63,750 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the average pain management nurse salary is just under that at $62,000, according to Simplyhired.com. Salary can vary greatly based on your employer, geographic location, and experience and education. Job security due to sector growth and good medical insurance are added benefits to this career.

Pain Management Nursing Education and Certification Requirements

However before you can enter this specialty, you will need to become a licensed registered nurse. You can earn your nursing degree in just two to three years if you pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN), or you can purse a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a four-year college or university with an accredited nursing program. Learn more by researching available nursing programs by state. When you complete your degree, you will need to become a licensed nurse in your state, which involves passing the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination), given by the state’s board of nursing. For nurses who have earned a master’s degree or aim to earn a master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner, there are also opportunities to as work nurse practitioners in pain management practices.

Certification is also a newer option for this specialty, and has only been an option since 2005. Certification for pain management nursing is through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The pain management certification exam is a computer-based exam that is offered in many cities throughout the year. In order to be eligible to take this exam, you must be a registered nurse with two years minimum nursing experience. You must also have a minimum of 2,000 hours experience working in a position which involves some aspect of pain management within three years of taking the exam. Finally, you must take 30 hours of continuing education, 15 of which must be pain management related, also within three years of taking the certification exam.

The American Society of Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) was founded in1990 by a small group of nurses who worked with patients who suffered from chronic pain. This organization helps pain management nurses network, communicate, and pursue continuing education and attend informative conferences for this emerging and rapidly growing nursing specialty. They promote “education, standards, advocacy, and research.” This field is made up of committed nurses who strive to offer their patients the best care in this field. If a secure career in nursing with a specialty that quite literally aims to ease the daily suffering of injured of ill patients sounds rewarding to you, find out which nursing program is right for you so you can become certified and become a pain management nurse.

(Sources: American Society for Pain Management Nursing, nursecredentialing.org, painmanagementnursing.org, cdh.org)

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