Acute care registered nurses (RNs) are highly skilled and in high demand. These nurses typically only work with a patient for a short time performing duties like post-surgical treatment and chronic illness management. The nature of the role requires nurses to learn new things, solve conflicts and stay current on all new developments in health care. The vital skills of an acute care RN include empathy, interpersonal communication, decision-making and critical thinking.
An acute care nurse provides care for critically ill patients. These nurses have a variety of clinical duties, and they provide nursing care for patients with severe illnesses such as heart attacks, respiratory distress syndrome and shock. An acute care RN may also care for pre- and post-operative patients or perform invasive and therapeutic procedures. Typical day-to-day responsibilities of a critical care RN include:
- Assessment and monitoring of the patient condition
- Checking symptoms, vital signs and arranging diagnostic testing
- Developing on-going care plans
- Administering intravenous drips or other types of medications
- Using and monitoring special equipment such as monitors and ventilators
Acute care settings within medical facilities have protocols for patient and family education. It is generally the responsibility of the acute care nurse to meet with patients and their families to explain how to manage the patient’s illness or injuries. A typical patient education plan includes post-treatment home care needs and instructions on medications and rehabilitation.
Licensing and Certification
An RN must have a state license to practice. Licensure generally requires graduation from an accredited academic institution and successfully passing the National Council Licensure Examination-RN. Certification is typically not a requirement to become an acute care nurse, but many employers prefer candidates who have certifications from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses or another professional nursing organization. Certifying organizations offer numerous types and levels of acute care nurse certifications.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that RNs employed in acute care settings earn an average salary of $92,284 in 2019. The job growth outlook is excellent with projected job growth of 19% by 2022.
With an aging population and the obesity epidemic in the country, nursing is becoming even more in demand. Registered nursing is the fastest-growing field in medicine currently in the United States.
A Promising Outlook
Acute care nurses have multiple opportunities for career advancement and salary increase. Openings are available in a variety of clinical settings for highly skilled critical care registered nurses.
If you are an acute care registered nurse looking for your next nursing opportunity, check out how General Healthcare Resources can reward you for your skills and experience.