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The Job Description of a Pain Management Nurse

by Grace Bordelon, studioD

Chronic pain related to injury or illness is a common problem for patients. Pain management nurses play an important role in helping patients cope and improve their quality of life. This area of nursing requires specialized training and education in order to diagnose and monitor the treatment of symptoms.


Pain management nurses receive standard registered nurse training with a bachelor's degree and state certification followed by a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN). The upper level coursework will often focus on palliative care and pharmacology. On-the-job training is also required to become certified at this level of pain management specialty nursing. According to the American Academy of Pain Management, a certifying agency, 2,000 hours of on the job training is required.


Pain management nurses work closely with patients to monitor the severity and timing of pain in order to treat it effectively. Once a plan is determined, they then must have excellent communication with the patient and family and maintain treatment notes to watch for signs of abuse or other symptoms. This position also requires excellent organizational skills and the ability to coordinate between multiple medical facilities as a patient may be treated by various specialists simultaneously.

Job Duties

A large part of the daily duties of a pain management nurse is to monitor and communicate with a patient about her condition and report back to the supervising physician. The nurse should be very familiar with pain medications and any adverse effects. Not all pain needs to be treated with medication; pain is a natural warning system for health issues that may otherwise be overlooked. Sudden pain needs to be noted and examined for its cause while injury-related pain or chronic pain, such as arthritis, is commonly treated.


The nursing field is growing at a faster than average pace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry will grow by 26 percent by 2020, one of the fastest rates among all occupations tracked. According to BLS, in 2011 registered nurses earned from $44,970 in the bottom 10 percent up to $96,630 in the top 10 percent. Pain management nurses with their specialized skills and education can expect to be on the higher end of the salary range.

About the Author

Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.

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