Ambulatory Care Nurse

Ambulatory NurseIf you are searching for an exciting and fast-paced career as a nurse, you may want to become an ambulatory care nurse. According to a recent study around Human Performance, the comfort level of a nurse in the work environment is imperative to maintain patient safety and self-confidence. If you deem you would feel complacent outside the hospital, this career is definitely for you.

The emphasis of ambulatory care nursing is on prevention and primary care. The term "ambulatory care" is an abridged way of saying the patient will not be in the hospital for treatments and procedures at the time of visit. You can provide and address the health needs of people from all walks of life in various settings - you may respond to high volumes of patients in a short time.

If you are driven by unpredictable patient conditions, then inquire further about ambulatory care nursing. This nursing specialty is on the rise because of a high demand for primary care nurses.

Nurses are not confined to working in a hospital setting. Because of health care dynamics ambulatory care is gaining popularity among individuals seeking primary and preventative care to avoid hospitalization. The recent drive for this is insurance companies will be mandated to cover preventative care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Health care costs for an individual seeking ambulatory care is less expensive than hospitalization. In addition, communities are constantly growing, and there is a need of bringing health care closer to people.

Nurses in this specialty bear an array of opportunities in their future. Ambulatory care nurses are in different settings such as the following:

  • Telehealth - Nurses in telehealth utilize a variety of technologies to triage, conduct consultations, and deliver necessary follow-up on patient’s outcomes and status.
  • Physician's office - In the physician’s clinic nurses are needed to assist the doctors with patient consultations and procedures. Different specialties include family medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, obstetrics, ophthalmology, dermatology, etc.
  • Urgent care - The Urgent Care Association of America projects more than 15,000 immediate care centers assess and treat ailments requiring treatment beyond that of a doctor’s office but not severe enough for the hospital.
  • Community centers - In the community nurses act as patient educators, coordinators, and advocates. In this role the ambulatory nurse may be responsible for research to incorporate into community programs.
  • Schools - Nurses in school facilities respond to medical emergencies within the school area. In addition to this, they are responsible in assessing the health of the students, faculty, and other school staff.
  • Health Insurance companies - Health insurance companies have an interest in hiring nurses to collaborate with health care providers to ensure coverage guidelines are followed appropriately. Nurses can also have a role as a nurse on the 24-hour helpline. 

Education Requirements

If you determined ambulatory care nurse is your future, you will need to, at a minimum, finish a degree in nursing or obtain an Associate of Science in Nursing. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is a profound statement of conviction to your practice as a nurse.

After earning your degree will need to pass the licensure examination or the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is given by the Board of Nursing in your state. 

Passing the exam gives you the green light to hold a license in your state.

To obtain an Ambulatory Care Nurse Certification you must meet a certain criteria:

  • Active registered nurse (RN) license
  • Practiced at least two years as an RN
  • 2,000 hours of practice in an ambulatory care setting
  • 30 hours of continued education in an ambulatory care setting

Job Description & Duties

An ambulatory care nurse has numerous responsibilities. In general, they are responsible in providing care to the people in the particular setting they have chosen. Review the following examples to peak your interest:

  • Apply nursing interventions
  • Creating treatment plans
  • Assess the patient’s need for preventive plans
  • Teaching patients and their families self-managed health activities
  • Guiding patients through various health-related activities
  • Care for the patient’s wellness and focus on preventing morbidities

Research, quality management, and clinical activities

Job Outlook and Salary

More than 2.7 million jobs are available for nurses. Ambulatory care nurses can expect a competitive salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median pay of a registered nurse is $64,690 or $31.10 per hour. Although it is important to note that the salary will depend on many factors such as experience and location. The setting will also be a contributing factor in the salary. A registered nurse has a bright future—the projected rate of change for 2010-20 is 26%—this is 12% faster than average. 


Written by

Sarah Gehrke MSN, RN

Sarah Gehrke, RN, MSN, has 15 years of professional experience in infusion services. She specializes in providing intravenous (I.V.) nutritional therapy by administering [...]