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What are the Qualifications of an Acute Care Nurse?

Higher Education Articles May 1, 2013

If you qualify to be an acute-care nurse, you can look forward to a prosperous career. You will be responsible for taking care of patients in a variety of settings, and taking care of patients who truly need your help; namely, those living with chronic diseases or going through surgery.

There is an excellent deal of career opportunities for acute care nurses, in the way of oncology, cardiology, respiratory health and intensive care. Additionally, there is a need for nurses educated in pediatric care, neonatal care, gerontology care, and emergency room (ER) treatment. Not only can you work in a hospital, but you can also work in home health care.

You might call this type of nursing the “front lines” of all patient care, and you will be joining nearly half a million other professionals who work in this field. As with any nursing job, the duties are not standard delivery of tasks, but involve educating others, managing rooms, floors and programs, conducting research and working with patients on a daily basis.

Education Requirements

Acute-care nursing students train to become recognized, registered nurses. You can start this career by pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The subjects should involve the basics of medicinal treatment as well as psychology. You will be learning about human anatomy, the standard practices of nurses, the science of medicine, effective communication, chemistry and nutrition. Some nurses advance far in their training and can even develop skills in microbiology and pharmacology.

In order to pass the course and earn their degree, nursing students are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This exam, administered by Pearson VUE and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, helps determine if a nursing student truly understands the course, and how to meet the state requirement. Of course, this depends on the state you are located in; as each state writes its own requirements that are part of the Board of Nursing. Where you live and where you plan to work are extremely important.

You can also become certified in acute or critical care and make good use of training time by pursuing even higher education. Look up the American Association of Critical Care Nurses AACN for more assistance. Becoming an Acute-Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) will allow you to make crucial decisions on a daily basis, and furthering your education with a master’s degree will help you advance in your profession.

The AACN expects all applicants to offer quality nursing care, practice professional standards in dealing with doctors and patients, prove themselves with education and in interpersonal relationships, and to maintain high ethical standards. In addition, learning the economic operation of a hospital or clinic and understanding the resources available is another key aspect of the job.

Last but not least, success in leadership is required to make this career path work. Acute-Care Nurses can make upwards of $70,000 per year, though this can depend on location and any specialties he or she brings to the table. There are also plenty of benefits in the way of relocation bonuses, paid education, and so forth.

It is a long journey, which is a given. However, at the end of your career path, it will be truly rewarding and the work is always worthwhile.

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