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5 Questions for a Medical-Surgical Nurse Leader

Photo: Courtesy of Piron Guillaume

How can joining a nursing organization advance your career? We asked Charles “Wes” Foster, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CCCTM, OCN, secretary for the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board and member of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, for his professional insights.

Charles “Wes” Foster, MSN, RN, CMSRN, CCCTM, OCN

Secretary, Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board and Member, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

What inspired you to become a nurse?

I grew up in a health care family of nurses. I was always fascinated as a kid as to what it was my mom and grandmother did. Once I saw nursing in action, I knew that was the career for me.

Share with us a personal story from your nursing career that reminded you of exactly why you became a nurse.

There have been three times in my career that I have had the privilege of being there with a patient when the patient received a terminal diagnosis ­– and I was the nurse who was there when the patient drew their last breath. That stays with you. I worked with these patients through the ups and downs of their disease; it is an honor to care and be there for them in those moments.

I also am reminded of my inspiration every day when I see that same spark ignite within the students in my classroom. When they understand that difficult concept and when the pieces of the puzzle finally fit, seeing their passion start that spark makes every day worthwhile.

How does professional membership in a nursing organization help you achieve your personal and professional goals?

My personal goals were mostly to improve my knowledge and skills regarding what I do daily as a clinical nurse. Professionally, belonging to a community of nurses that are passionate about excellence in care delivery was a logical step in my career.

How did certification impact your professional development?

After I became a registered nurse, I pursued my CMSRN® (Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse). I feel that my certification demonstrates to the patients and other providers that I have taken that next step to elevate the profession and promote the specialty of medical-surgical nursing. It also affords me the opportunity to stay current with the latest research and evidence that guides the practice of nursing. 

Finally, it allows me to speak with nursing students and discuss that it is not just being on the floor but having a mix of patient care settings that challenges the nurse to be a top performer every day while delivering high quality and efficient patient care.

What advice would you give to emerging nurse leaders?

Join your professional nursing organization to help support you and your career. I am a member of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) and find so much value in the connection, camaraderie, and resources it gives to the members. And when the calls come for project or committee members, apply for these roles! Nurses have a big voice and we need to be involved in every aspect of our practice. Share your wealth of knowledge and experience to help promote all that we do.

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