Working in close proximity with patients and providing the critical care and treatment that they need, an acute care nurse practitioner is expected to work with patients who are suffering from particularly serious conditions, which often require some form of surgery. They work with patients, typically for short periods of time, helping to treat chronic or acute illnesses, or helping to prepare the patient for surgery.
Acute care nurses typically specialize in one particular field, including oncology, geriatrics, cardiac or surgical care, which means they are typically found within private clinics, specific units of a hospital such as neurosurgery, or facilities which provide continuous care. Anyone interested in a career as an acute care nurse practitioner would need to be a registered nurse with a graduate degree.
About Acute Care Nurse Practitioners
Acute care nurse practitioners cover the branch of nursing that offers care and attention to patients who have particularly advanced or chronic conditions, such as shock, heart attack, or any condition that may require surgery. Typically, they will be expected to provide some degree of care both before and after an operation. Usually, due to the severity of the condition most patients in need of an acute care have, these acute care nurses will need experience and education in life support skills. They should also have the ability to make a diagnosis quickly and effectively based on data interpretation and observation of a patient.
Although acute care nurse practitioners work most often within hospitals, they can also find useful positions within nursing homes, outpatient care centers and physicians’ offices. Typically, they will be expected to work some night shifts, or periods of being on-call, as acute care patients could need assistance at any time of the day, any day of the week. Most of the time, acute care nurse practitioners will have other nurses, or nursing aides reporting to them to assist with their work.
What Jobs Can an Acute Care Nurse Do?
An acute care nurse practitioner may be required to work within an:
- Operating room
- Emergency room
- Doctor’s office
- Walk-in clinic
- Community environment
- Critical care unit
They typically take care of patients who are suffering from severe or acute conditions such as respiratory distress, shock, or heart attack.
Furthermore, an acute care nurse may serve as a team leader or case manager, alongside caring for post and pre-operative patients, performing advanced diagnostics and offering therapeutic procedures.
Legally, an acute care nurse practitioner can perform diagnostic tests so as to identify an illness and provide a limited degree of treatment. Usually in collaboration with a team of healthcare professionals, an acute care nurse will help to direct the way patients are managed throughout their care, from the moment that they are admitted, to the time when they are released. Often, these nurses will follow up with some patients once they have been released on an outpatient basis in order to ensure that their health is successfully improving after they have undergone an operation and have been discharged from the hospital.
Acute care nurse practitioners often provide the care and attention that a physician may not have the time to offer, staying in close proximity to patients throughout the course of their treatments. They ensure that the treatment prescribed is working the way it should be, as well as carry out care for the patient before and after they have had surgical treatment. Acute care nurse practitioners must have an extensive degree of knowledge in the skills required for life support procedures, and they must be able to make accurate diagnoses relating to the patient’s health.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics within the United States in 2013, the average acute care nurse practitioner could be capable of earning anywhere up to $95,070 on an annual basis. Although this is clearly an above-average salary, there are various factors which can influence the amount of money a person receives within this occupation, including:
- Where they choose to work.
- What their level of education is.
- How many years of experience they have had within their field.
Job Outlook for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners
Due to the current healthcare crisis that exists within the United States, there is a higher demand for acute care nurse practitioners, although the number of facilities which offer such care has begun to decrease. As many patients these days are under-insured, they are more likely to turn to acute care settings such as emergency rooms for help, as they can offer primary care for a lower cost than some physicians. The BLS announced that employment options for acute care nurse practitioners could be expected to increase by anywhere up to 34% by 2022.