Healthcare professionals interested in transitioning out of a hospital setting, or future nurses who are interested in patient education as a primary role, should consider the field of ambulatory nursing. In this field, nurses work with patients periodically over a short or long term basis.
The goal for patient care in this setting is to help keep patients living in their own homes through providing medical and educational support over the span of an illness. Many people with chronic conditions or recurring illnesses seek the assistance of an ambulatory nurse to assist the patient and the family with the skills needed to support the overall health of the patient. Here are some of the things you need to know if you are interested in this rewarding nursing field.
Career Support and Credentialing
The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) is a professional organization dedicated to the career development of ambulatory nurses across the United States. As an organization they provide opportunities for networking, publish important educational materials, sponsor a conference, host a job board, and offer other professional development-related activities. You can find out more information about the organization at: http://www.aaacn.org.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is the division of the American Nurses Association (ANA) that provides the credentialing process for ambulatory care nurses. In order for certification eligibility, a candidate must meet the following requirements:
- Possess an active and current RN license from a U.S. state or territory
- Complete at least two years experience as a full time RN
- Within the last three years applicants must have completed a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical work in an ambulatory setting
- Within the last three years applicants must have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education in ambulatory care
- Applicants must pass a standardized test
Versatility in the Workplace
From assisting outpatients to speaking to school groups and from working in an assisted living setting to visiting patients in their own home, the career path of an ambulatory nurse is attractive to many because you can choose the setting in which you work. Additionally, you can manage your own time more autonomously, and decide if you want to play more of an educational role or more of a direct care role as you tailor your career to your preferences. Many ambulatory care nurses enjoy working in community settings and with families to find cost effective and family friendly ways to support patients in their own home with the care of loved ones assisted by the expertise of the ambulatory nurse.
Ambulatory nursing does require certain character traits as well. Nurses should be able to manage their time effectively, be comfortable being on their own with patients and families, keep meticulous records, communicate well, and be confident in their knowledge and skills to handle many different situations and personalities in a variety of care settings. The competition is tough for the top jobs so you need to be sure your education and credentials are up to date and reflect current best practice knowledge in your field. Participating in ongoing education such as enrolling in an online course from highly ranked and accredited university will help you gain the competitive edge for long term career satisfaction and growth in this important nursing field.