Example Career: Acute Care Nurses
Provide advanced nursing care for patients with acute conditions such as heart attacks, respiratory distress syndrome, or shock. May care for pre- and post-operative patients or perform advanced, invasive diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.
What Job Titles Acute Care Nurses Might Have
- Clinical Nurse Educator
- Nurse Manager
- Nursing Director
- Staff Nurse
What Acute Care Nurses Do
- Perform emergency medical procedures, such as basic cardiac life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and other condition stabilizing interventions.
- Manage patients' pain relief and sedation by providing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions, monitoring patients' responses, and changing care plans accordingly.
- Document data related to patients' care including assessment results, interventions, medications, patient responses, or treatment changes.
- Diagnose acute or chronic conditions that could result in rapid physiological deterioration or life-threatening instability.
- Administer blood and blood product transfusions or intravenous infusions, monitoring patients for adverse reactions.
- Assess urgent and emergent health conditions using both physiologically and technologically derived data.
- Assess the impact of illnesses or injuries on patients' health, function, growth, development, nutrition, sleep, rest, quality of life, or family, social and educational relationships.
- Interpret information obtained from electrocardiograms (EKGs) or radiographs (x-rays).
- Obtain specimens or samples for laboratory work.
- Collaborate with patients to plan for future health care needs or to coordinate transitions and referrals.
- Refer patients for specialty consultations or treatments.
- Set up, operate, or monitor invasive equipment and devices such as colostomy or tracheotomy equipment, mechanical ventilators, catheters, gastrointestinal tubes, and central lines.
- Discuss illnesses and treatments with patients and family members.
- Distinguish between normal and abnormal developmental and age-related physiological and behavioral changes in acute, critical, and chronic illness.
- Collaborate with members of multidisciplinary health care teams to plan, manage, or assess patient treatments.
- Assess the needs of patients' family members or caregivers.
- Perform administrative duties that facilitate admission, transfer, or discharge of patients.
- Provide formal and informal education to other staff members.
- Read current literature, talk with colleagues, and participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in acute care.
- Treat wounds or superficial lacerations.
- Participate in patients' care meetings and conferences.
- Participate in the development of practice protocols.
- Adjust settings on patients' assistive devices such as temporary pacemakers.
- Prescribe medications and observe patients' reactions, modifying prescriptions as needed.
- Order, perform, or interpret the results of diagnostic tests and screening procedures based on assessment results, differential diagnoses, and knowledge about age, gender and health status of clients.
- Analyze the indications, contraindications, risk complications, and cost-benefit tradeoffs of therapeutic interventions.
- Assist patients in organizing their health care system activities.
What Acute Care Nurses Should Be Good At
- Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
What Acute Care Nurses Should Be Interested In
- Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
What Acute Care Nurses Need to Learn
- Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.