What Does an Ambulatory Care Nurse Do?
Ambulatory Care Nurses provide care to patients of all types outside of a traditional hospital environment. They primarily focus on pain management and general health education for those patients diagnosed with chronic injuries or illnesses on an episodic or outpatient basis. The type of care they provide includes screening, triage, case management, discharge planning, and other interventions to maintain or restore patients’ health and ability to live independently. Ambulatory Care Nurses typically work in community clinics, schools, dialysis center, urgent care centers and pain management centers. Ambulatory Care Nurses must be highly skilled and able to quickly assess their patients, create a care plan and continue to the next patient. They must also be used to working independently and with a wide variety of medical disciplines. The ability to remain calm and focused is imperative in this profession.
How Can I Become an Ambulatory Care Nurse?
To gain certification as an Ambulatory Care Nurses, one must possess an active registered nursing license and degree, possess a minimum of two years as a registered nurse, a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in ambulatory care nursing and a minimum of 30 continued education hours in the discipline. To become a registered nurse, students can earn either a Diploma in Nursing, a three year degree, an Associate Degree in Nursing which is the most common education earned by RNs and takes two years to complete, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing which is a four year degree from a university. After the degree is earned, a student must successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as a registered nurse. After working for two years as a registered nurse and logging the necessary clinical and continued education hours in ambulatory care, nurses can apply to take the certification exam given through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for an Ambulatory Care Nurse?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, not only is the nursing field as a whole growing, but so is the profession of Ambulatory Care Nurses. The country is currently facing an increased nursing shortage, as well as an increase in the number of patients entering the health care system. This puts additional strain on physicians to see more patients in less time. With this increase in demand for specialized health care professionals, the need for Ambulatory Care Professionals is on the rise. One of the career down sides to this field, is limited patient follow up. Because care is administered on an episodic basis and their patient load is high, Ambulatory Care Nurses have limited time or opportunity to frequent patient follow up. Conversely, Ambulatory Care Nurses are able to work in a variety of environments and treat a wide variety of conditions and needs.