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Learn About the Difference Between Primary Care Nursing and Acute Care Nursing

Mar 18, 2020 10:24:05 AM / by General Healthcare Resources

Nursing is an immense discipline in healthcare. Due to these numbers, there are many types of nurses, as well as specialties available for practice. Acute care nursing and primary care nursing are often confused with each other but are, in reality, very different. Acute care nurses focus on patients with complex, critical and chronic illnesses. Primary care nurses, on the other hand, emphasize health promotion, disease prevention and treat minor acute and chronic health problems.

Acute Care Nursing

One of the more challenging and rewarding disciplines in healthcare is acute care nursing. This type of nurse is a front-line care position that requires practitioners to perform a wide variety of tasks while being prepared for diverse situations. Acute care is focused on short-term care for severe medical conditions. The responsibility can take place in multiple settings, including emergency care, intensive care and neonatal care. Severe injuries, chronic medical conditions, strokes and infectious disease are a few of the medical conditions that acute care nurses treat.

The typical day-to-day activities of an acute care nurse might include the assessment and monitoring of patient conditions, checking of vital signs, scheduling diagnostic tests, developing care plans, administering drips and other medications, and using specialized equipment such as mechanical ventilators and cardiac monitors.

Acute care nursing also requires a nursing degree or diploma. All programs must consist of clinical experience. Earning a BSN or higher will offer you better job prospects than just a diploma or associate degree. Upon completion of an educational program, acute care nurses must pass NCLEX to become a licensed registered nurse.

Primary Care Nursing

The primary care nurse is a nursing professional that works in a primary health care setting, predominantly in physicians’ offices. These nurses possess a wide range of skills in common basic nursing procedures. The illnesses that primary nurses treat are typically minor ones, such as colds and allergic reactions. Depending on the specialty, they may practice general family medicine, pediatrics or geriatric care. This type of nurse interacts with the same patients regularly and often forms lengthy relationships.

Primary care nurses may also handle office tasks and insurance information. They perform initial physical exams before the arrival of the physician which includes taking height, weight and vital signs. The primary care nurse records symptoms and collects lab samples. Depending upon the setting, they may administer medications and change dressings. They frequently administer vaccinations and assist in health screenings as well.

This career requires earning a nursing diploma or degree. Following the successful completion of the educational program, the nurse will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). As a primary care nurse, you may continue your education and become certified in a specialty.

If you are a nurse seeking a primary care or acute care position, check out the opportunities available now at GHR.

Topics: Acute Care, Primary Care