Another article in the series of articles abouttypes of nurses and areas of nursing practice. This time we look at nurses working in non-hospital settings. This may be one of the most misunderstood areas of nursing there is.
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By Shirley K Williams
Most people think of a nurse as someone who works inside a hospital. For the most part, that would be a correct assumption; however, there are other venues where nurses work that have nothing at all to do with hospitals. This article will tell you about one such type of nurse.
There are even some nurses that don’t know what an ambulatory care nurse is or what that nurse does. It is a relatively new specialty, but it has been around for as long as there have been nurses.
Basically, an ambulatory care nurse is a nurse who works in settings outside the hospital and provide nursing care to a wide spectrum of patients with many varying types of illness. Here are just a few places you will find them.
If you go to your doctor’s office or you are seen in a health clinic, the chances are that you were seen by an ambulatory care nurse. These nurses work for and with doctors in the office and in clinic settings. They are the data gatherers, the greeters, the follow-up care givers. They are able to meet and greet just about any type of medical patient and any age patient while providing top-notch care. They spend short amounts of time with the patient and then may not see them again for quite a while.
People who depend on dialysis to maintain functioning due to compromised kidneys are always happy to see their nurse when they come in for treatment. These are very specialized nurses who have received special training in the use of the dialysis machines, access to the body through shunts, and monitoring chemical compositions of various patient’s blood. They truly are life savers for these patients. They provide quality care during arduous and unpleasant treatments. They come to know their patients really well because dialysis is a chronic treatment that is recurring 3 or more times each week.
When you send your children off to school, you feel safe in doing so because there will be a trained nurse on duty to take care of your child should he or she become injured or ill. If your child takes routine medication throughout the day, the nurse is the one to administer that medication while your child is at school. School nurses have quite a large number of children to manage, as usually there is only one or two school nurses present. These nurses are well-trained in childhood development and childhood illnesses and keep meticulous records for the parents and for the health department about immunizations. These nurses work more or less independently and need to be confident in their ability to provide quality care.
Home Health nurses
When your loved one comes home from the hospital today, he or she may still be quite ill and unable to provide all the self-care necessary. When this occurs, the discharging doctor will prescribe a home health nurse to make regular rounds on the patient in the home. This nurse can do various treatments, can provide education, will provide emotional support, and can be back-up when the patient is learning new skills to manage the condition. The home health nurse will make numerous visits over the course of a few weeks to a month, until their services are no longer required and the patient can resume normal life functions. These nurses get to know the patient and the patient’s family quite well and grow to care deeply for each patient they treat.
The ambulatory care nurse is someone who must be able to make fast and accurate assessments of the patient and that patient’s needs. This sometimes requires the nurse to investigate situations and ask lots of personal questions. The nurse must also be able to translate treatment prescribed into doable and understandable actions for the patient. The nurse frequently has to explain the why’s and wherefore’s for both the patient and the patient’s family members in a way that they understand and be able to engage them in following the care plan. The nurse also must build strong, stable relationships with each patient in whatever setting. This type of nursing is best done by someone with some basic medical/surgical experience because the nurse must feel confident in his/her abilities.
Working as a nurse is a challenge no matter what type of nursing and what setting you choose. Nursing is not for the faint of heart nor is it for someone looking for just a good paying job. Nursing requires a strong constitution, a big heart, and a commitment to provide the best care possible. Ambulatory care nurses provide all of that and more.
If you are just beginning your voyage into nursing, you might want to visit Nursing Trends for more information about becoming a nurse in general.
- Elementary My Dear Watson, Ambulatory Care Is a Specialty (jparadisirn.com)
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- Nurses Don’t Want To Be Doctors (nursingtrends.wordpress.com)
- Nurses Worried About Retirement Prospects (nursingtrends.wordpress.com)