Pain management nurses provide expert care for patients who suffer from acute or chronic pain. They administer medication, monitor vital signs, clean and dress wounds, and educate patients about what they can do at home to manage their symptoms. A person who wants to become a pain management nurse must complete extensive education and training, which typically includes about six years of post-secondary education combined with at least two years of practical experience in a health care setting. Depending on the region and specific place of employment where a professional wants to work, he or she may also need to pass written certification exams before working unsupervised.
An individual who wants to become a pain management nurse can begin his or her educational path by enrolling in accredited, four-year nursing school. As an undergraduate, a student attends lectures and laboratory courses to learn about common medical terminology and nursing techniques. Many schools offer internship opportunities at local hospitals and clinics so students can observe and assist experienced nurses in practical settings. After earning a bachelor's degree, a person can take national and regional licensing tests to earn registered nurse credentials.
With a degree and the appropriate certification, a new nurse can begin his or her professional career in an emergency room, critical care center, or general hospital. A person who wants to become a pain management nurse generally needs to pursue a master's degree, though most future specialists decide to start working immediately after earning their bachelor's degrees to gain practical experience. In fact, some advanced degree programs require that applicants have professional nursing experience before they can be considered for admission. A registered nurse has the opportunity to work with patients who suffer from any number of medical conditions, allowing them to broaden their medical knowledge and develop essential skills.
A hopeful pain management nurse can look into master's degree programs at universities and specialty allied health schools. Most students enroll in general nurse practitioner programs, though a number of schools offer curricula specifically tailored to pain management studies. Master's degree programs usually take about two years to complete and consist of lecture, laboratory, and hands-on classes. A graduate can take a nurse practitioner exam and begin exploring opportunities to become a pain management nurse.
Some hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies require professionals to earn certification from a national organization, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center, before they can begin working in pain management specialties. A new worker typically spends several months in training to master skills before he or she can officially become a pain management nurse. With experience, a pain management nurse can pursue research interests and enjoy several opportunities for advancement.