What is an Ambulatory Care Nurse?

An ambulatory care facility is most often referred to as an outpatient care facility. There, patients with regular or recurring conditions that do not require overnight stay in a hospital or other clinical setting can receive care. An ambulatory care nurse is a healthcare professional who specializes in tending to the needs of individuals who require regular medical attention, including concerns related to assisted living, but who do not require overnight stay in a dedicated healthcare facility, according to Discover Nursing.

Because the nature of their job involves outpatient care, the ambulatory care nurse frequently works outside of a hospital setting themselves. They must often function with less immediate assistance or supervision than nurses working within a hospital or other long-term clinical care environment.

What Does an Ambulatory Care Nurse Do?

In addition to providing standard treatment and filling all the functions that any nurse who handles patient care must attend to, the ambulatory care nurse requires additional training and experience in communications. Degree programs which incorporate additional attention to communications are considered to be exceptionally suited to the ambulatory care field. The nursing professional needs to be able to communicate effectively with patients, to get their feedback on how they feel and what their symptoms are, and to communicate important information to them effectively. They must also be friendly, and able to maintain a healthy combination of compassion and professional demeanor.

Nursing Specialties and Ambulatory Care

As with other healthcare professionals and caregivers, nurses who practice ambulatory care can choose to specialize in a range of issues affecting today’s patients. Two of the most common examples of this are pediatric care and geriatric care, tending to the needs of the very young and the elderly. There are also nurses who specialize in women’s health, and in various types of diseases or injuries that, while not serious enough to merit an overnight stay in a hospital, still require specialized attention in order to treat effectively.

Educational Prerequisites and Desired Experience

An ambulatory care nurse often undergoes less stress, and a more relaxed pace of work, than a nurse in an inpatient setting. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is widely considered to be the requisite level of education for this type of nursing professional, and is enough to ensure a long and rewarding career in improving the lives of a wide range of patients. Generally speaking, 2,000 hours of experience as a registered nurse is required before an eligible professional can become an ambulatory care nurse.

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More advanced degree programs can also lead to additional opportunities down the road. A graduate degree, such as a Master’s in healthcare administration, can lead to supervisory responsibilities, which would come with a corresponding increase in compensation. A Master of Science in Nursing will likewise open the door to supervisory or administrative authority, and may lead to the opportunity to help analyze and refine a healthcare facility’s outpatient care guidelines and regulations, as this is a somewhat neglected area where infectious disease transfer remediation is concerned.