How To Become An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Acute care nurse practitioners are responsible for working with serious or critical care patients. As an acute care nurse practitioner, you are able to order laboratory exams for patients and prescribe a patient medication. It is the duty of an acute care nurse practitioner to examine the patient and consult with a doctor in order to formulate a critical care solution.
If you enjoy caring for individuals, can react quickly, and have an immense amount of compassion, you may want to explore a career as an acute care nurse practitioner.
Why Become An Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Acute care nurse practitioners may work in intensive care units, trauma units, cardiology departments, and oncology departments. An acute care nurse practitioner is responsible for interpreting diagnostic patient tests, ordering necessary tests, managing care for critical patients, prescribing medications, and educating patients and family members about acute illnesses.
Acute care nurse practitioners work closely with patients in order to provide them with critical care, while collaborating with doctors to formulate a critical healthcare plan for the patient. Maintaining health records, providing care to advanced critical or chronic conditions, and education is part of an acute care nurse practitioner’s job responsibilities.
Since an acute care nurse practitioner will be prescribing medications and specialized treatment to a patient, they must be extremely detail oriented and attentive to a patient. It will be an acute care nurse practitioner’s responsibility to notice any changes in a patient’s overall health and well-being. Acute care nurse practitioners typically hold a senior leadership position within their specific departments or areas of employment; therefore, it is crucial that they show effective leadership skills and compassion to both patients and co-workers.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Work Environment
Acute care nurse practitioners may work in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient care facilities, physician’s department, and specialized areas of medicine, such as oncology emergency care, or cardiology. The daily work environment of an acute care nurse practitioner can vary, depending on the patient and their individual needs.
An acute care nurse practitioner may work long shifts, throughout the holiday season, or be on-call in case of a patient emergency. There are many risks associated with being involved within the health care field, such as high levels of stress, exposure to infectious diseases, and risk of injury, if dealing with a combative patient.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Salary
The median annual wage for an acute care nurse practitioner is $88,564. The lowest 10% of acute care nurse practitioners made no more than $73,185 annually, while the top 10% reached over $113,171 annually. The median annual wage for an acute care nurse practitioner is dependent on experience and education within the nurse practitioner filed.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically report on the career outlook of acute care nurse practitioners, however, it does report on the career outlook of general nurse practitioners. The career outlook for a nurse practitioner looks to grow much faster than the other career areas, with a projected increase of 31%, from 2012 to 2022. The projected demand may be due to changes in demand for new healthcare services, in addition to new health care legislation throughout the various states.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Degree
In order to become an acute care nurse practitioner, you must first obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, also known as a BSN. Throughout your academic coursework, you will explore topics such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biology, pharmacology, and medical terminology. The bulk of your nursing academic coursework will include hands-on, clinical training at a healthcare facility. Your clinical training will be absolutely vital to your learning, as you will be working directly with patients, while learning how to properly care for a patient. Once you have completed your Bachelor’s degree, it is imperative that you obtain your nursing license. In order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), you will need to take the NCLEX-RN exam, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
After you become a licensed, registered nurse, you will need to obtain a Master’s degree in Nursing, with a focus on acute care. Throughout your graduate coursework, you may study topics such as patho-physiology, epidemiology, advanced pharmacology, patient care management, nursing research, and advanced physical assessment. An acute care nurse practitioner program can take up to three years to complete. You will focus on mass casualty care, chronic healthcare management, differential diagnosis, economics of healthcare, and biostatistics.
Throughout your graduate coursework, you will need to complete acute care clinical rotations, which will provide you with hands-on learning in the areas of aging, diseases, laboratory testing, EKG monitoring, health assessments, and pharmacology.
Upon completing your Master’s degree, you will need to become a certified, acute care nurse practitioner. In order to become certified, you will need to sit for the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner certification. The ACNP certification requires that you have already obtained your Registered Nursing license, Master’s degree, and coursework in disease management and health promotion.
Once you have passed the exam, acquired your Master’s degree, and have the proper amount of clinical training, you will be able to legally practice as an acute care nurse practitioner.