Medical Surgical Nurse Certification Exam Review

Aceso’s certified medical surgical registered nurse (CMSRN) review prepares you to pass the CMSRN exam with the highest possible score and become board-certified in this specialty. Obtaining this credential supports your clinical practice and prepares you to offer excellence in patient care. As with all Aceso’s courses, our CMSRN exam review program is designed by nurses for nurses..

What Is CMSRN for Medical Surgical Nurses?

The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) administers its nurse certification program through the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB), an independent nonprofit organization. This credential meets the accreditation standards set by the American Board of Specialty Nursing Certification. MSNCB first offered the medical surgical certification for nurses in 2003. Since then, nearly 40,000 practicing health care professionals have successfully earned medical surgical certification with the academy. CMSRN is similar to the medical surgical nurse certification exam offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Why Should Medical Surgical Nurses Earn CMSRN Certification?

Some of the most important reasons to earn credentials such as CMSRN as a medical surgical nurse include:

  • Building professional credibility and commitment
  • Enhancing your expertise as a nurse with specialized knowledge
  • Demonstrating a mission to promote and provide high-quality care
  • Increasing respect from and collaboration with your colleagues
  • Earning accolades from employers and advancing in your career with new opportunities to excel

What Does Aceso’s Medical Surgical Nurse Certification Program Cover?

The program consists of a two-day review delivered live via Zoom. The curriculum for the medical surgical nurse certification includes:

  • Nursing concepts within the medical surgical specialty
  • Patient teaching concepts for nurses
  • Monitoring and diagnosing medical surgical conditions in your patients
  • Management concepts for medical surgical nurse certification
  • Important competencies for registered nurses in this specialty
  • Necessary skills for high-quality care delivery
  • Detailed explanations of medical surgical content
  • All materials to study for this credential and pass the exam

Who Can Obtain the Medical Surgical Nursing Certification?

To earn the medical surgical nursing certification, you must have an active RN license in the United States, Canada or a U.S. territory. Under AMSN eligibility requirements, you must also complete at least two years of work experience in a medical surgical setting. Finally, the accreditation board requires a minimum of 3,000 hours of clinical practice over the past three years.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Medical Surgical Nurse Certification?

The fee to get your medical surgical certification as a nurse is $375. However, AMSN members can save with a discounted fee of $255. If you participate in the medical surgical nursing FailSafe certification program, you can take the exam and earn your credentials at no up-front cost. As a member of FailSafe, you get more than one chance to pass the exam.

How Often Do You Have to Renew CMSRN Certification?

If you pass the certification exam, your initial certification lasts for five years. After that, you can apply for certification renewal within 12 months before your credential expiration date. You must prove that you’ve remained in medical surgical nursing practice by documenting at least 90 patient contact hours.

How Do You Sign Up for the Medical Surgical Nursing Certification Exam?

First, you have to fill out the online application on the MSNCB website. The board will then send you an authorization to test (ATT) within three to five business days. This email will provide a link to the Prometric testing center scheduling portal, where you can sign up for your exam. You can also reschedule your exam if you need to by signing into the portal. You must take the exam within 90 days of receiving the ATT. Otherwise, you could lose your testing fee.

You’ll take the computer-based certification exam at a Prometric testing center in your area. The exam includes 150 multiple-choice questions, and you have three hours to complete the test. To earn medical surgical certification, you must get a score of 95, which equates to getting about 71% of the questions correct.

The questions cover seven domains of medical surgical nursing practice, which include:

  • Helping role
  • Teaching and coaching function
  • Diagnostic and patient monitoring
  • Administering and monitoring nursing interventions
  • Effective management of rapidly changing situations
  • Monitoring and ensuring quality health care practices
  • Organizational and work-role competencies


The board estimates it takes practicing nurses about six to nine months to prepare for the medical surgical certification exam. Working with experienced nurses can help you understand the concepts you’ll need to successfully earn these valuable credentials.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn as a Certified Medical Surgical Registered Nurse?

According to data reported by, medical surgical nurses earn an average of about $90,000 to $112,000 annually. You can boost your salary by achieving initial certification as a med surg nurse. Earnings in this profession also vary based on years of experience and geographic area. In comparison, salaries for registered nurses in the acute care setting who haven’t completed medical surgical nurse certification programs range from $71,200 to $88,500.

What Does a Certified Medical Surgical Registered Nurse Do?

AMSN reports that medical surgical nursing is the largest group of specialty RNs. These nurses care for adults before, during and after surgery or those who are coping with acute or chronic health conditions. They also communicate across the health care team to ensure continuity of care. Many medical surgical nurses work in a hospital setting, but others work in home care, in outpatient centers or as telemedicine providers.