Nurse Specialties: Acute Care Nursing

Among the types of nurses in high demand across the nation are specialty nurses of all types, including those who deal with acute or critical care. While registered nurses who are non-specialized will always be an integral part of the health system; there is a renewed need for more specialized training among career candidates entering the field. General physicians facing the burden of a tough economic environment and a downward trend in private patient groups are choosing to specialize, thus requiring specialty nurses in their practice.

Specializing in a specific area of medicine is more lucrative for many health professionals and nursing is no exception. Today, nursing students are opting to follow the direction of physicians by choosing a specialty program at their school of choice that may lead to a more stable career in the future.

What is Acute Care Nursing?

Acute care nurses (also known as critical care nurses) care for patients with a specific set of problems or under a specific type of circumstances. They may work with patients entering or exiting a surgical procedure or those who have a specific type of health problem such as cancer. Acute care nurses also work with a specific body system or with a section of the population, such as children.

Most acute care nurses work in critical situations, where the patient needs short-term care, is in an unstable condition, or may become unstable without much notice. These nurses are responsible for patient assessments and diagnosing common, resolvable problems. They are also critical in planning care for a patient, performing care, and assessing risks and outcome possibilities.

Nursing School Curriculum for Acute Care Nursing

Any type of nursing specialty requires the student to spend their time in nursing school earning at least a minimum degree. Nursing degrees for specialty nurses take at least 2 years (for BA) and up to 6 years for the highest earning bracket. Outside of the standard, the student will be expected to successfully complete and demonstrate skills in several key areas related to acute care nursing.

These include:

  • Advanced Nursing Practices
  • Advanced Acute Care Management
  • Diagnosis and Management of Acute Health Conditions
  • Pharmacology and Therapy
  • Science and Research for Acute Health Conditions
  • Organizational Structure in Acute Care Facilities

Ongoing training throughout the career of an acute care nurse is critical. Professionals in this field can expect to enroll in nursing school classes many times throughout their career to keep up with the latest techniques, research findings, and information available in their field of medicine.

These include:

  • Disaster Preparation
  • Health Disparity
  • Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Glandular Management
  • Pharmacology Training
  • Emergency Department Operations

Careers for Nursing School Graduates with Acute Care Specialty

Most acute and critical care nurses work in a hospital setting following their graduation from nursing school. Many students choose to work in emergency departments and intensive care units, while others may work in various specialties. Specialties for acute care nurses include pediatrics, neonatal, cardiology, recovery, and more. Most acute care nurses learn the advanced practices for their career in nursing school, but take on more detailed training in hospitals to learn about the medical unit’s procedures and principles.