The Evolving Role of Critical Care Nursing
Critical care nursing has evolved to mean many things in healthcare. There are specializations available now that were not available in the past that allow nurses to put a fine point on patient’s needs and healthcare goals.
The very first nurses who were considered or specialized in acute or critical care nursing were neonatal nurses. The environment they were in required them to respond quickly to their patient’s needs.
Their patients were limited in their communication and the responses time to challenges often meant the difference between life and death.
Related Reading: What is a Critical Care Nurse and What Does it Take to Become One?
The Rise of Acute Care Nursing
Acute care nurses are in high demand and are rising in the nursing field. The acute care nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) who has expanded on their education to include working with patients in a short term capacity.
These nurses assist patients with immediate issues and help to temporarily relieve symptoms based on severity. There is a rising need for a nurse that can address these types of urgent medical concerns.
RN’s are trained to respond to trauma, but an acute nurse is trained to respond to crucial and serious challenges on a consistent basis.
As noted in the living and ever changing document of acute nurse definitions, the AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) Scope and Standards for Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Practice, without an acute nurse, patients can suffer.
“Patient needs are also unmet when care is limited to specialty treatment of an acute illness, with neglect of attention to comorbidities and chronic health conditions, or the recognition and minimization of physiologic, psychologic, and iatrogenic risks.”
Without these nurses, overall patients care could dwindle. The acute nurse is trained to handle the details in a chaotic situation with consistency and thoughtful care.
When a patient is sent to long term care or through a more comprehensive recovery plan, they can do so with confidence knowing that their initial care has been attended to with care.
Establishing the Standards for Critical Care Nursing
Acute nursing requires a methodical eye that can react instantly. The work environment can be frantic and fast paced. Patients who require assistance from an acute nurse are in a situation where a hasty response is not desired but required.
There is a common misconception that the newly formed position of the acute nurse is best utilized in an emergency room setting.
However, there are many areas in health care that need an acute nurse and her unique set of skills.
For example, heart patients in recovery may need a nurse with a wide base of knowledge and ability to respond swiftly.
The RN that chooses to go into acute nursing will never be bored and will have an infinite number of opportunities to excel in their field.
The job satisfaction from being an acute nurse can come from not only patient satisfaction but also from the nurse’s ability to help many people in just one shift. The training to help acute nurses is just as immediate and exciting.
Critical Care Nurses and the State Board
While the state boards for nursing are pretty much standard, they do not all have a national standard. There is some discrepancy is what kind of experience and education combination can help to establish a working RN to an RN that specializes in acute nursing.
However, in order to ensure safety, the ACNP suggests that “Certification, although not required in all states, should reflect the population of patients for which the nurse practitioner has been trained and is an expected portion of the candidate’s portfolio.
It seems inevitable that certification will be a national standard sooner rather than later.
Which School is Right for Me?
In order to avoid confusion in the future, it is essential that a nurse interested in this area of expertise research into the type of school they need to obtain the right education.
Their decision should be based on a few things but mainly how well the program will build on their already obtained RN education. There are options in regards to the delivery system of the program.
Many of these programs have clinical experience built into the program and case studies that help assist in how educating on the role as a whole.
They can be a quick and informative program, but make sure to check accreditations and your own state’s regulations regarding acute nursing.
Proper training and experience allow the acute nurse to raise the bar on patient care –a goal desired by all in healthcare today.