When you think of nursing, you might picture inpatient nursing. Popular TV shows portray nursing primarily in the hospital, and most new graduate nurses start their careers in an inpatient setting. In fact, more than 60% of RNs are employed in a hospital setting. But recent changes in health care are increasing opportunities for nurses in ambulatory settings.
Ambulatory nurses operate in environments ranging from the clinical setting to outpatient procedural areas. Nurses are utilized in a variety of ways and have opportunities to interact with patients by providing direct patient care, patient education, and performing special testing. In addition, they triage patients and follow up regarding test results and symptom updates. Nurses in an ambulatory setting work closely with both their physician colleagues and directly with patients and their families. Ambulatory nurses often find themselves developing long-term and fulfilling relationships with their patients.
Although ambulatory RNs don’t work directly with acutely ill patients, they are still required to have critical thinking skills and an in-depth understanding of disease processes and specialized treatments. While hospital nurses can see their patients physically, ambulatory nurses often triage their patients over the phone or online, requiring a high level of expertise. The ambulatory realm has significantly fewer resources available in comparison to the hospital setting.
Ambulatory nurses enjoy many benefits that inpatient nurses aren’t afforded, though. Most don’t work holidays, nights, weekends, or on-call, and get to devote more focused time to their patients. Enjoying both a rewarding career and a life outside of work is a major reason more and more nurses are pursuing careers in the ambulatory setting.
Learn more about ambulatory care nursing here.