Ambulatory Care Nurse

Becoming an Ambulatory Care Nurse Is An Expanding And Lucrative Career Choice For Nurses
The Ambulatory care nurse provides comprehensive nursing care on an outpatient basis for patients in a variety of settings. An ambulatory nurse’s job is challenging and may be the ideal way to start a nursing career. While an ambulatory care nurse may still function as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a clinical setting, this specialist will have far more knowledge and depth to draw from and is often found outside the hospital environment.

Ambulatory Care Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

Ambulatory care nurse jobs may be found teleconferencing, health screening clinics, walk in clinics, well baby clinics, Hospice settings and more venues. An ambulatory care nurse must not only excel in the practice of nursing but be able to triage patients in walk-in clinics, translate doctor’s orders into activities which are understandable and practical for the patient or family. In certain situations the nurse may act as a phlebotomist, doctor’s nurse, or nutritional counselor to patients and family. This specialist will attempt to establish a rapport with family and patient in order to increase compliance with medication or lifestyle changes.

Ambulatory nurse specialists will encounter a variety of situations in the course of a day’s work in a disease screening clinic, prevention of illness or into supporting sick individuals to wellness. Ambulatory nurses may be required to triage patients in order to treat the most critical first.

How to Become an Ambulatory Nurse

Preparation for a career in ambulatory care nursing can begin as early as high school. The student may want to focus upon biology, chemistry, math, and the sciences. A four year nursing degree from an accredited nursing school will allow the student to make the most of their nursing degree and permit them to move upward into administrative positions. Upon graduation from high school the hopeful should apply to the nursing school of their choice. Classes for nurses include the normal balanced curriculum such as English, math, and the arts. However, the nursing student will also take classes in advanced biology, patient care, nursing ethics. The final semesters consist of hands on clinical experience in hospital settings.

Ambulatory Care Nurse Education Requirements, Certification and Schooling Programs

While ambulatory nurses may be LPNs, or LVNs, most clinical settings require a Registered Nurse for this position. In order to obtain most of the available positions in administration for Ambulatory care nurses, the RN must also have a certification in ambulatory nursing care. The following are the requirements for receiving a certification as an Ambulatory Nurse specialist from the American Board of Nursing Specialties:

• Complete a 2 or 4 year RN course from an accredited school of nursing.

• Pass the state board Registered Nursing Examination.

• In order to become certified as an Ambulatory Care Nurse, the RN must have had at least two thousand hours of clinical experience in an ambulatory care setting within the last three years.

• The RN must also have completed at least thirty hours of continuing education in ambulatory care prior to applying for the certification examination.

• Successfully pass the certification examination given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The certification examinations are computer based and are taken at locations throughout the U.S. The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) represents nurses in the ambulatory-care field. Certification is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). In order to become certified – Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) – applicants must have two years full-time experience as a registered nurse. They must also have at least 2,000 hours experience in an ambulatory-care setting and 30 hours continuing education within three years prior. The exam consists of 175 questions, which fall into the following categories: clinical practice, communication, issues and trends, systems and education. Certification is not a requirement to work in ambulatory care, but it helps applicants secure jobs as it advertises their expertise in the field.

While Licensed Practical or Vocational nurses may be employed by some facilities as ambulatory care nurses, the scope of their practice is necessarily more limited. Furthermore, Certification is usually restricted to RNs. The individual interested in specialty nursing will find the better career opportunities go to the candidate with the most education and experience in the field.

Ambulatory Care Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The nursing field is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified nurses of all levels of education, but the crisis is particularly acute in nursing specialty areas such as Ambulatory care nursing. The decade of 2008 through 2018 is predicted to find the demand for nurses increasing from 21% to 35%. The Certified Ambulatory Care Nurse can make from $65,000 to $85,000 a year. The salary depends upon the agency employing the nurse specialist as well as the location where the nurse lives and practices.

General nursing can be a wonderfully fulfilling career for many nurses. However, nurses who want to broaden their knowledge base, increase their responsibilities and increase their job satisfaction may well want to consider specializing in high demand areas such as that of an ambulatory care nurse.