Working as an Ambulatory Care Nurse

Most people think that when you become a nurse, you only have one option. And that option is – to work in a hospital setting. That is not true. There are a lot of nursing fields and specialties where a nurse is required to work in a non-hospital setting. One of these specialties includes Ambulatory Care Nursing.

What is Ambulatory Care Nursing?
Ambulatory Care Nursing is a field of nursing that deals with patients on a preventive and maintenance level. Acute care is also included in ambulatory care nursing, but most of the time nurses deal with patients having long term needs. This field of nursing often makes nurses practice outside the hospital. They are often assigned in ambulatory clinics, community centers, schools, surgical units and so on.

Responsibilities of an Ambulatory Care Nurse
The ambulatory care nurse has lots of responsibilities. He/she may have to deal with a large amount of patients in the span of the day. The average interaction time between a patient and an ambulatory care nurse rarely extends past an hour. Despite the number of patients and the short interaction time, these nurses still have to perform basic nursing duties.  

These duties include the provision of health care to all sorts of patients with varied illnesses. The nurse may also function as a counselor and advocate for patients in need of psych and social assistance. He/she may also have to perform home based or telephone follow-ups for patients who cannot make it to clinics.

In an ambulatory care nursing, emphasis is placed on the importance of home care and patient education. That is why the nurse has to work as an effective educator. Patients need to learn to perform basic procedures on their own. It is also the nurse’s responsibility to translate complex procedures into terms the patient can easily understand. A patient education practices also extend to post and pre-op ambulatory surgical patients. They are also applied with individuals undergoing long term pain management.

Despite the seemingly complex duties of an ambulatory care nurse, a lot of individuals are still drawn to it. The main reason for that is the fact that these nurses work regular hours. The position eliminates the need for nurses to work on varying shifts from day to day. It is a great job for nurses that have growing families, those that go to school at night as well as those that maintain part-time night jobs.

Areas of Practice
Get rid of the notion that an ambulatory care nurse only works in a clinic. True, most ambulatory care nurses do find themselves in the clinical setting. But, there are various areas where an ambulatory care nurse can work. It may include working with paramedics in an ambulance or working as a school and company nurse. The job may also include working in a surgical or community setting. Ambulatory care nurses may also be called to provide home care to patients who need it.

Requirements and Qualifications
LOCALLY – There are no set rules and regulations in order to become an ambulatory care nurse in the Philippines. The main requirement is to be registered with the Professional Regulation Commission. Experience working in a hospital setting or otherwise may also be helpful in gaining a position in ambulatory care units.

Keep in mind that there are all sorts of ambulatory care units in the country. For Filipino nurses who want to work in surgical outpatient units, he/she must have a solid background as an operating room nurse. The same goes for other specialized areas in the ambulatory care nursing field.

US - In order to work in ambulatory care, the nurse must first garner a solid two years working as a registered nurse in any setting. For most states in the US, there is no other requirement. However, others require and prefer their ambulatory care nurses to be certified in the field. Certification is achieved by completing required number of work hours as an ambulatory care nurse. It also requires that a nurse earn a certain number of continuing education units in ambulatory care nursing. These units can be gained by attending seminars or post graduate conferences.

For other countries, the requirement is the same. The nurse applying for a position as an ambulatory care nurse must be an RN in the country. He/she must also have significant nursing experiences that will relate to the position he/she is applying for.

Work Opportunities in Ambulatory Care Nursing
LOCAL – There are a lot of work opportunities for local RNs in the ambulatory care nursing field. He/she may apply for work in physician clinics or with government community health centers. The opportunities are endless, but the nurse applicant has to have the competitive qualifications in order to get hired.

In the recent decade, more and more hospitals in the country have opened ambulatory care units. These units (especially government operated ones) rifle through immense numbers of patients daily. These patients may come for check-ups or for routine procedures.
Some local ambulatory care units deal with surgical patients. Most surgical ambulatory units deal with patients seeking minor surgery that have very little down time. A few minutes after the procedure, the patient is deemed well enough to get back on his/her feet and walk out of the unit.

THE US AND OTHER COUNTRIES – Work opportunities for ambulatory care nurses abroad can be very diverse. It can include everything from walking surgical centers, ambulances, pain managements units, mobile clinics, home care and home visits nursing, community centers, schools, work areas, etc. Some countries and American states require certification from their ambulatory care nurses. Nevertheless, most of the time only a regular license is required.

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