Ambulatory Care Nurse

What Is an Ambulatory Care Nurse?

An ambulatory care nurse refers to a nursing professional who treats patients in an outpatient care setting. This means treating non-emergency patients who need routine medical care in a health clinic, urgent care facility, medical office, or another healthcare setting that doesn't require overnight stays. Careers in ambulatory care nursing are often less stressful and not as fast-paced as nursing careers that require working inside of a hospital. Often, ambulatory care nurses carry out routine care, tend to injuries, and help to treat chronic or acute illnesses for specific kinds of patients. For example, they may be employed as a nurse at a women's health clinic or at pediatrician's private practice. Ambulatory care nurses should have a comprehensive clinical knowledge base which spans across multiple disciplines.

What Are Some Ambulatory Care Nurse Duties?

Because ambulatory care nurses have a remarkably diverse set of day-to-day tasks, the following list of duties are just a small snapshot of what they might perform:

  • Monitor and record vital signs
  • Perform phlebotomy procedures
  • Administer medication
  • Treat and assist patients with an illness or injury
  • Gauge a patient's overall state of health
  • Provide health education to patients and families
  • Promote patient wellness
  • Ensure appropriate legal and regulatory standards
  • Help to manage patient pain
  • Managerial duties
  • Taking patient samples

Where Do Ambulatory Care Nurses Work?

Ambulatory care nurses enjoy a wide variety of employment settings due to the broad nature of their work. They can be found in just about any medical setting where patients come in and out the same day. Typical workplaces include:

  • Physicians' offices
  • Outpatient laser clinics
  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Community health clinics
  • Government institutions
  • Telehealth agencies
  • University health centers
  • Urgent care facilities

How to Become an Ambulatory Care Nurse

Because the kind of care they provide is so broad, licensed registered nurses with any kind of nursing background can become ambulatory care nurses. Individuals who would rather not work during strange hours in fast-paced, high-stress environments would be well suited for ambulatory care nursing. After finishing an accredited RN degree program and then passing the NCLEX-RN exam, nurses can immediately work in entry-level ambulatory nursing care.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Ambulatory care nurses are nursing professionals who have earned either an ADN or BSN degree. Some employing organizations will require licensed RNs to have earned a BSN or higher. For recently graduated RNs, ambulatory nursing can be an excellent starting point to gain more experience and explore particular nursing fields and specialties.

Do Ambulatory Care Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, ambulatory care nurses are licensed registered nurses (RNs) who work in some kind of outpatient healthcare setting (i.e. physician office, outpatient surgery center, urgent care clinic, community health clinic, etc.). Their duties encompass a wide range of tasks that fall in the scope of practice of a Registered Nurse.

Step 2: Required Ambulatory Care Nursing Certifications/Credentials

Certification in ambulatory care nursing is accessible via the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which is a division of the American Nurses Association (ANA). To become eligible to take the Ambulatory Care Nurse Certification Exam, offered by The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, individuals must:

  • Possess a current and unencumbered RN license
  • Have two years of full-time clinical experience as an RN
  • Have at least 2,000 total hours of clinical experience in ambulatory care nursing in the previous 3 years
  • Have finished 30 hours of ambulatory care continuing education courses in the previous 3 years.

Ambulatory Care Nurse Salary, Jobs & Employment

The field of ambulatory care nursing is extremely broad. Because the ambulatory care nursing specialty is so incredibly diverse, the employment outlook is particularly promising. Outpatient procedures are becoming more and more common across the healthcare industry, which in turn makes ambulatory care nurses more desirable. These nurses shouldn't have much trouble finding gainful employment in a wide variety of nursing employment sectors.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong organizational skills, diverse set of interests and skill set, strong interpersonal communication abilities, ability to assess patients quickly and accurately, experience with triage, compassion, and understanding, ability to work well in teams, and ability to function in a fast-paced environment
  • Job Outlook - As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), job growth for RNs is expected to increase by at least 16% between 2014 and 2024. Employment growth within the ambulatory care nursing sector should also be in-line with this figure.

What Is the Average Salary of an Ambulatory Care Nurse?

According to PayScale, ambulatory care nurses make an average hourly wage of $28.35. Annual salaries range between $44,102 and $124,157 and will depend upon the city and state the nurse is employed in, how much experience they have, their level of education, and the employing organization. The vast majority of ambulatory care nurses who are employed full-time will enjoy medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage in their employee benefits packages. Some will also have the chance to buy life insurance policies. A couple of weeks of paid time off is also common, although it will depend on the employing organization's policies.

How Much Do Ambulatory Care Nurses Make per Year?

  • $44,102 – $124,157 annual salary

How Much Do Ambulatory Care Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $28.35 average hourly wage

Ambulatory Care Nurse Resources