Pain Management Nurse

Pain management nurses are registered nurses who specialize in pain management techniques. Since 2005, the American Nurses’ Association has recognized pain management nursing as a specialty area. Pain management nurses care for patients in a variety of inpatient and outpatient environments. The goal of pain management nurses is to relieve pain and enhance patients’ quality of life so that they may engage in their activities of daily living to the maximum of their ability without being hampered by pain and related issues. Pain management nurses receive specialized education addressing identification of pain, uses of medications, physiological and psychological effects of pain and non pharmaceutical interventions which relieve pain. They work with patients, families, and other health care providers. 

Pain management nurses use their expertise to care for patients of all ages. In addition to administering meds and educating patients about pain management, pain management nurses assist other professionals who work with patients who have pain.

Pain management nurses employ a vast array of physical and mind-body interventions to care for patients with severe or chronic pain. They administer medications, using groundbreaking delivery methods. In addition, they teach patients how to manage pain in order to improve their quality of life.

Pain management nurses may work with patients experiencing chronic pain due to injury or disease. They work with terminally ill patients to ensure that their final days are comfortable. Pain management nurses provide hope to patients and their loved ones. 

Education Requirements

Pain management nurses must be registered nurses with a minimum of two years of full time professional experience. They must posses an unrestricted active nursing license.

Nurses who desire to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center certification examination must have been employed in a nursing position, caring for patients with pain management issues, for a minimum of two thousand hours within the three year period prior to applying to take the certification examination.

Prior to taking the pain certification exam, the nurse must complete thirty hours of continuing nursing education. Fifteen of those hours must be in the field of pain management.

The certification exam consists of 175 test questions.

Continuing education requirements for recertification may be met by a variety of methods. Examples include taking college classes, continuing education courses or preceptorships

Job Description & Duties

Pain management nurses work in many types of work settings. They may be employed in outpatient pain or physical therapy settings. Pain management nurses provide care to patients enrolled in palliative and hospice care programs. Employment opportunities exist for pain management nurses in acute and long term health care facilities.

Pain management nurses work as members of multidisciplinary teams to help patients who suffer from chronic pain maximize their quality of life. They serve as patient advocates to obtain pain medications. They may work as liaisons with vocational programs to assist patients who suffer with pain issues return to work.

Pain management nurses educate patients and staff about safe and effectives methods of pain control. Pain management nurses conduct educational programs which demonstrate the use of conventional and complementary healing techniques which help to relieve pain. They ensure that pain medicines are used appropriately. Pain management nurses help to allay fears regarding pain and the use of medications used in the treatment of sever pain.

Pain management nurses educate other health care providers about pain scales and signs of symptoms of pain demonstrated by children, mentally challenged, and geriatric patients. They are experts regarding modifications which are needed to ensure safe medication administration to special populations, such as the pediatric and geriatric population. 

Job Outlook and Salary

The occupational outlook for registered nurses in general is excellent. The need for pain management nursing specialists is expected to grow. Chronic illnesses are increasing as the population ages. People are living longer due to advances in medical treatment. Concerns regarding quality of life issues due to pain are increasing as people live longer with chronic conditions.

Opportunities are expected to increase in acute and long term settings. Community nursing opportunities will continue to increase with the expansion of home health, palliative care and hospice programs.

Salaries for pain management nurses range from seventy five to one hundred thousand dollars annually.


For information about certification, continuing education opportunities, and employment for pain management nurses visit the following websites:

American Society for Pain Management Nursing at

American Nurses Credentialing Center at

Written by

Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG

Patricia has been a Registered Nurse for almost forty years in a wide variety of settings. As a Registered Nurse, she realized that conventional healthcare was not meeting [...]