Pain management nursing is both emotionally and financially satisfying for its practitioners. Many nurses strive to assist those suffering, with average salaries among pain management nurses higher than other specializations in nursing.
Explore what it takes to become a pain management nurse, what education you require, and the requirements and responsibilities involved with the role.
Pain Management Nurse Overview.
Pain management nurses specialize in administering painkillers or providing other forms of treatments for acute or chronic discomfort, working collaboratively with their patient(s), their families and providers to achieve maximum quality of life for all concerned parties.
Pain management nursing careers can be both fulfilling and demanding. While you might help reduce pain instead of completely alleviate it, working with patients who experience acute discomfort is emotionally demanding work; working alongside their families also often poses unique challenges requiring ethical judgment decisions and decisions to make difficult choices about patient treatment plans and decisions about patient treatment needs.
Steps for Becoming a Pain Management Nurse (Part One of Two).
Step one in becoming a pain management nurse is to obtain your Registered Nurse (RN) license. Pain management nursing is considered an RN specialty and as part of this journey you must earn your nursing degree, pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN), and secure state licensure before beginning work as a pain management nurse – once having gained at least 2000 hours experience, certification may become eligible.
Earn either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
Aspirant Registered Nurses must pass the NCLEX examination in order to attain licensure as Registered Nurses.
The NCLEX-RN exam is multiple choice with up to 145 questions that must be completed within five hours. Once passed, once your state license application process begins. Each state may have specific licensing rules such as criminal background checks that need to be considered so make sure you review what applies in your own area before beginning!
Gain experience in pain management.
Once licensed, pain management nursing is an entry level career path. Most nurses gain their initial experience working within hospitals, nursing homes or specialty practices such as oncology or rheumatology – specialties which tend to demand experienced nurses are hospitals or specialty offices.
Gain Pain Management Nurse Certification (PMGT-BC(tm)).
To earn certification you must possess at least two years of full-time nursing experience and at least 30 hours of documented continuing education related to pain management (nursing continuing ed). Furthermore, at least 2,000 hours should have been accrued over three years of pain management work experience.
While certification may not legally be mandatory for pain management nurse positions, many employers strongly prefer it for higher-level positions requiring or strongly preferring it – helping you obtain an enhanced pain management nurse salary.
As part of your decision on how to become a pain management nurse, there are two possible education paths you should explore when making this choice: a two-year ADN and four-year BSN degree programs are options worth examining; though ADN degrees usually take less time and tuition costs may be reduced as they lead to employment with associate degrees, four-year degrees tend to be necessary when seeking mid or upper level positions in nursing.
Earning a BSN for this nursing specialty could prove extremely advantageous as pain management nursing duties can often be complex and time consuming.
An Associate in Nursing Degree — often called an ADN degree — can be earned at a community college over two years and tuition rates tend to be more reasonable – it makes an affordable way for you to complete nursing school if either time or money are scarce; many nurses begin with this degree before going back for their BSN later on in their career.
Admission Requirements: An applicant must present both their high school diploma or GED certificate, along with evidence of academic performance; some schools require at least 2.0 GPA as part of admission requirements and passing grades in biology, math and chemistry courses as a condition for enrollment.
Program Curriculum: This curriculum encompasses human anatomy and biology, nursing foundations, infection control protocols and legal/ethical issues as well as clinical fieldwork experience. Clinical fieldwork must also be completed during this program.
Time Required to Completion: Two years.
Skill Acquired: The ADN emphasizes practical nursing skills such as hygiene and safety practices, administering medications safely and using medical equipment properly, performing tests accurately, communicating effectively with patients and helping them sit up or stand.
BSN degrees typically last four years and admission can often be more competitive, covering an array of more in-depth topics than entry-level nursing jobs require or strongly prefer. Employers also often favor BSN graduates when hiring pain management nurses for positions beyond entry-level positions and this degree’s higher pay potential makes pursuing one attractive to many RNs.
Nursing degrees can be the ideal path if both costs and time can be managed comfortably; there are scholarships that cover your full costs so if time but no funds exist to fund them could also be an option.
Admission Requirements: An applicant must possess either a high school diploma or GED certificate to be considered for admission into any program at this school. Furthermore, most schools require at least a 3.0 GPA with passing grades in biology, chemistry and math subjects.
Program Curriculum: The curriculum covers beginning and advanced topics related to human anatomy and biology, the healthcare system, nursing management and leadership as well as additional classes such as communications, public health infection control as well as legal and ethical aspects of nursing practice. Clinical fieldwork will also be required.
Time of Completion: Four years (if you already possess an ADN degree, however, credits from existing nursing courses can be transferred directly and an RN-to-BSN bridge program could make completion quicker).
Skills Achieved: Alongside practical nursing knowledge, this program will also equip you with communication, management and leadership techniques for use both inside the classroom as well as clinical hours. Won’t provide licensure/certification of pain management nurses
Certification may not legally be mandatory in pain management nursing, but most employers strongly prefer or require certification for mid and higher level positions. Certification demonstrates your knowledge and dedication to pain management nursing while fulfilling continuing education requirements demonstrates you remain current on best practices within this rapidly transforming industry.
Licensure as an RN
Licensure for registered nurses (RNs) is mandatory if one wishes to enter this nursing career field.
Attaining an RN license involves graduating from an accredited nursing school with either an ADN or BSN degree and passing the NCLEX-RN examination, in addition to fulfilling any state licensing requirements such as criminal background checks.
Participate in continuing nursing education courses and refrain from engaging in unprofessional conduct.
Certification for Pain Management Nursing isn’t legally mandatory but nonetheless valuable.
Certification requires at least 2,000 hours of pain management nursing experience and 30 hours of continuing education in the last three years, plus two years full-time nursing work, in order to become eligible. You also must pass the certification examination.
Renew your certification every five years through continued education in pain management nursing and practical experience.
Working as a Pain Management Nurse
Once licensed, you can begin working as a pain management nurse. Although nearly every nursing position involves pain management to some extent, surgery, oncology and physical/occupational therapy provide particularly valuable experience in this field. Geriatrics or similar specialties also present great opportunities.
Though most pain management nursing occurs within hospitals, doctors’ offices, residential care communities or rehabilitation settings such as VA hospitals or correctional institutions; pain management nurses also find work within home healthcare nursing, military facilities or correctional nursing environments.
Pain management nursing salaries are among the highest in nursing. According to Indeed’s annual average annual salary as of October 2021 is an astounding $104,310 (whereas registered nurse median annual salaries fall at $75,330 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures). One reason behind such high pay scale is often mandated BSN requirements and high demand for certified pain management nurses.
Pain management nurses typically possess various responsibilities depending on their work setting:
Pain management nurses assist both inpatients and outpatients by administering medications or providing other forms of therapy such as meditation. In addition, these professionals educate both their clients as well as their families regarding what to expect when receiving pain management treatments, reporting any levels to physicians or nurse practitioners for further follow up as necessary.
Pain management nurses deliver medication as well as nonmedical options. Additionally, they educate both the patient and family as well as keep in touch about pain levels over time.
Pain management nurses offer end-of-life care nursing through residential or hospice settings and offer medical treatments as well as alternatives while also educating both patients and families alike about pain.