What Is Ambulatory Care Nursing?
Ambulatory care nursing refers to nursing activities that occur outside the healthcare setting. Ambulatory care nurses are any nurses that move from home to home or other settings outside a hospital to provide care. These are their primary tasks:
- Pain management for patients with chronic injuries or illness
- General health education for patients with chronic injuries or illness
An ambulatory care nurse needs to be prepared to move from place to place frequently.
Nature Of The Work/Duties
According to learn4good.com the following are the main tasks of an ambulatory care nurse:
- Provide healthcare to patients with varying illnesses or injuries.
- Promote healthcare and health maintenance to patients.
- Educate patients on how to manage their injury or illness at home.
- Provide healthcare either face to face with patients or over the phone or internet.
- Assist patients preventing and managing illnesses.
The main purpose, then, is to assist patients in settings outside of the hospital and to ensure that they are well equipped to deal with the condition or injury that they are suffering from at that point in time. Ultimately the idea is to allow patients to function as optimally as possible in an environment where healthcare professionals will not be on hand.
- Day Surgery Units
- Ambulatory Care Surgeries
- Physicians Offices
- Community Centers
- Home Care
- Health Insurance Companies (where you may provide health care advice via telephone or the internet)
- The Government (where you may provide health care advice via telephone or the internet)
In addition, if you ever become tired of working in such a mobile area of nursing and decide to settle down in a fixed location or industry, you will have all of the experience and training needed to become a general nurse or to perhaps even pursue an alternative specialty in the field.
Ambulatory Care Nursing Requirements
The following requirements must be met in order to become an ambulatory care nurse:
- You must be a qualified Registered Nurse (RN)
- You must have a minimum of two years of experience working as an RN
Note: Although there is no additional training required to become an Ambulatory Care Nurse, certification is available. In addition, in most states certification is preferred.
Certification can be gained by:
- Documenting 2,000 hours (1 year full-time) experience in Ambulatory Care Nursing within the last three years
- Completing 30 hours of Ambulatory Care Nursing Continuing Education within the last three years
Gaining certification will noticeably improve your chances of employment in this line of nursing. Even though it is not required by all employers they are still more likely to consider you if you have certification.
There is always a personality component involved when discussing requirements for a position. In the case of ambulatory care nursing there are two main personality requirements:
- Great interpersonal skills are an essential personality trait for this line of work. This is because you will be spending long periods of time interacting with patients and their families. When doing this you must be pleasant and compassionate as well as professional and direct at the same time.
- You should be able to think clearly under pressure because you will often need to make important decisions and establish care plans quickly and accurately.
In addition the general personality traits considered to be necessary in all nurses, such as empathy, conscientiousness and compassion, should also be present in your disposition and character.
In order to be an ambulatory care nurse you must:
- Have a diploma in nursing, OR
- Have an associate’s degree in nursing, OR
- Have a bachelor’s degree in nursing
The higher your level of education the more luck you will have entering the nursing profession in this particular area of specialty. As mentioned previously there are no additional educational requirements that are necessary for becoming an ambulatory care nurse, but certification is recommended. After working for two years as a Registered Nurse with 2,000 hours of clinical practice in ambulatory care and 30 hours of continued education you can take the certification exam that will allow you to ‘officially’ be an ambulatory care nurse health care specialist.
American Nurses Credentialing Center
600 Maryland Ave., SW, #100
Washington, DC 20024-2571
As mentioned previously no additional educational or licensure is a requirement for being an ambulatory care nurse, but you will need to hold an RN license. To get an RN license you must first complete the educational requirements for being an ambulatory care nurse. Completing those requirements will allow you to apply for licensure with your state board of nurse. Once you application is approved you can set a date to write the exam with Pearson VUE, the body that monitors and controls the licensing of RNs. Study hard and pass the examination. When your state board of nursing receives confirmation that you passed, you will be licensed and able to practice as an RN. Go on to gain the necessary experience in ambulatory care and perhaps pursue certification in this nursing specialty to improve your career options.
How To Become An Ambulatory Care Nurse
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
In addition to the basic nursing training that you will need to become an ambulatory care nurse, it is also suggested that you pursue training in the following:
- IV therapy
- Triage and telephone advice
This can be achieved by very carefully selecting the continuing education courses that you would like to complete in order to retain your RN licensure. With proof that you have completed additional training in one or more of the above areas, you will stand a higher chance of receiving employment in the domain of ambulatory care nursing, and it is highly recommended that, in any area of nursing specialty, that you constantly attempt to improve your skills and knowledge by making the most of the many additional educational opportunities available.
Source An Accredited Education Program
The degree that you complete in order to become a registered nurse or RN must be done through an accredited school. By failing to ascertain the accreditation status of the school that you plan to attend you could be jeopardizing your planned career. At the very least you will be required to pay for and complete an additional program in order to receive a qualification that will earn you the right to become an ambulatory care nurse. Your state board of nursing will be able to provide you with a list of schools that a reaccredited as well as answer any queries that you may have about specific nursing programs that you have heard of an are interested in attending. Current nurses are also good sources of information regarding the accredited schools in your area.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
An associate’s degree in nursing is a great qualification to start off with as it is sufficient for becoming an ambulatory care nurse. To earn this degree:
- Make a short list of all of the schools in your area that offer associate degrees in nursing and that meet your requirements.
- Once you have made this list it is wise to apply to at least three of the schools to speed up the acceptance process.
- Choose a school to attend and complete all of the theoretical and clinical work required to the best of your ability by working hard and remaining dedicated.
- Graduation from the program means that you will have an associate’s degree in nursing and you can continue on your way to becoming a nurse with a specialization in ambulatory care.
Obtain Your Licensure
The only formal license that is needed in order to be an ambulatory care nurse is an RN license. This can be obtained through the steps mentioned previously. In addition you have the option of attaining certification as an ambulatory care nurse, although this is not a requirement in many states. Certification can be gained by documenting 2,000 hours (1 year full-time) experience in Ambulatory Care Nursing within the last three years. Additionally certified ambulatory care nurses must also have completed 30 hours of Ambulatory Care Nursing Continuing Education within the last three years. It must also be noted that this certification status is a requirement in certain states and cannot be avoided. What this means for you is that you need to be aware of what the protocol is for your particular state.
Online/Distance Education Programs
Online or distance education programs may seem very attractive to you because of the convenient nature of being able to study from homes. However it must be noted that such programs only allow you to complete part of your qualification. This is because a nursing qualification consists of two aspects:
- Theoretical work
- Clinical work
Clearly, then, the clinical work cannot be completed in an online environment as it requires that you engage in hands-on training in an actual health care setting. However you will be able to complete the theoretical portion of your studies through an online school, which will go quite a long way to helping you relieve the burden of studying to be a neonatal nurse. Like with brick and mortar schools, online schools must be accredited with the relevant bodies.
Recent technology allows doctors to perform more surgical procedures in ambulatory clinics, which has created an increased need for Ambulatory Care Nurses. Ambulatory care nurses now need to have a higher level of expertise and an ability to work well in these environments and with this technology. In short, as the job becomes more specific and skilled, the better the job prospects will be for nurses trained as ambulatory nurses, as the work cannot be done by just anyone. The 22% increase that we expect to see across the nursing profession from 2011 to 2018 is expected to be even higher for ambulatory care nurses because of the following two important factors:
- A rising elderly population
- An increased emphasis on preemptive health care
Both of these factors mean that there will be more work for ambulatory care nurses.
The national average salary of an ambulatory care nurse is $50,000. This figure may be slightly lower or slightly higher depending on:
- Where the job is located
- How much previous experience a potential candidate may have
These are the two main factors that play a role in the salary that you may earn. In addition you will find that some states simply tend to pay more or less than others, which means that you may find yourself earning far less or far more than a friend in another state. In some cases your gender may play role, but the main factor is location, and this includes the employer you work for and the specific industry that you work in. Overall the salary is fairly good, making this one of the better job options for a nurse to consider.
This is certainly a line of work that will increase in terms of job opportunities in the very near future. Nurses who are well suited for ambulatory care nursing are those who do not like to be tied down in the same setting and who prefer to go out there and meet many people. However the drawback is that you will deal with patients briefly and be unable to get to know them well. Some nurses see this supposed drawback as an advantage, so it really does depend on your personality and what you want to get out of your nursing experience.