Acute Care Nurses

acute care nurse
$81,220 Median Wage (2022)
193,100 Projected job openings (2022-2032)
5.60% Projected growth (2022-2032)

Provide advanced nursing care for patients with acute conditions such as heart attacks, respiratory distress syndrome, or shock. May care for pre- and post-operative patients or perform advanced, invasive diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.

Experience Requirements Overview

  • Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

Education, Training and Experience

Required Level of Education: Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)

Related Work Experience: N.A.

On-Site or In-Plant Training: Over 1 month, up to and including 3 months

On-the-Job Training: Over 3 months, up to and including 6 months

Detailed Work Activities

  • Evaluate treatment options to guide medical decisions.
  • Diagnose medical conditions.
  • Monitor patients following surgeries or other treatments.
  • Administer anesthetics or sedatives to control pain.
  • Analyze test data or images to inform diagnosis or treatment.
  • Treat medical emergencies.
  • Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals.
  • Adjust prostheses or other assistive devices.
  • Evaluate patient functioning, capabilities, or health.
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
  • Communicate detailed medical information to patients or family members.
  • Record patient medical histories.
  • Treat acute illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
  • Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
  • Collect biological specimens from patients.
  • Order medical diagnostic or clinical tests.
  • Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Refer patients to other healthcare practitioners or health resources.
  • Administer blood or other fluids intravenously.
  • Advise patients on healthcare system processes.
  • Assess patient work, living, or social environments.
  • Maintain medical or professional knowledge.
  • Establish nursing policies or standards.
  • Process healthcare paperwork.
  • Train medical providers.

Work Values

Independence

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Achievement

Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Working Conditions

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Recognition

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Relationships

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.

Support

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Tasks

  • Perform emergency medical procedures, such as basic cardiac life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and other condition-stabilizing interventions.
  • Manage patients' pain relief and sedation by providing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions, monitoring patients' responses, and changing care plans accordingly.
  • Document data related to patients' care, including assessment results, interventions, medications, patient responses, or treatment changes.
  • Diagnose acute or chronic conditions that could result in rapid physiological deterioration or life-threatening instability.
  • Administer blood and blood product transfusions or intravenous infusions, monitoring patients for adverse reactions.
  • Assess urgent and emergent health conditions, using both physiologically and technologically derived data.
  • Assess the impact of illnesses or injuries on patients' health, function, growth, development, nutrition, sleep, rest, quality of life, or family, social and educational relationships.
  • Interpret information obtained from electrocardiograms (EKGs) or radiographs (x-rays).
  • Obtain specimens or samples for laboratory work.
  • Collaborate with patients to plan for future health care needs or to coordinate transitions and referrals.
  • Refer patients for specialty consultations or treatments.
  • Set up, operate, or monitor invasive equipment and devices, such as colostomy or tracheotomy equipment, mechanical ventilators, catheters, gastrointestinal tubes, and central lines.
  • Discuss illnesses and treatments with patients and family members.
  • Distinguish between normal and abnormal developmental and age-related physiological and behavioral changes in acute, critical, and chronic illness.
  • Collaborate with members of multidisciplinary health care teams to plan, manage, or assess patient treatments.
  • Assess the needs of patients' family members or caregivers.
  • Perform administrative duties that facilitate admission, transfer, or discharge of patients.
  • Provide formal and informal education to other staff members.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, and participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in acute care.
  • Treat wounds or superficial lacerations.
  • Participate in patients' care meetings and conferences.
  • Participate in the development of practice protocols.
  • Adjust settings on patients' assistive devices, such as temporary pacemakers.
  • Prescribe medications and observe patients' reactions, modifying prescriptions as needed.
  • Order, perform, or interpret the results of diagnostic tests and screening procedures based on assessment results, differential diagnoses, and knowledge about age, gender and health status of clients.
  • Analyze the indications, contraindications, risk complications, and cost-benefit tradeoffs of therapeutic interventions.
  • Assist patients in organizing their health care system activities.

Work Styles

Achievement/Effort

Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Persistence

Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Initiative

Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Leadership

Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

Cooperation

Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Concern for Others

Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Social Orientation

Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

Self-Control

Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

Stress Tolerance

Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

Adaptability/Flexibility

Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Dependability

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

Attention to Detail

Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

Integrity

Job requires being honest and ethical.

Independence

Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

Innovation

Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Analytical Thinking

Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Data Source: This page includes information from the O*NET 28.0 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA. This page includes Employment Projections program, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.