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Have you ever taken an unexpected trip to the hospital? It’s certainly not an enjoyable experience, but it’s one that many people have had at some point or other. Sudden hospital visits tend to be the result of our lives taking an abrupt turn for the unpleasant; we injure ourselves or become extremely sick. Many people have also had the worrying experience of bringing a child or other loved one to the hospital to receive care for an unexpected illness or injury. While at the hospital, many people are treated and cared for by an acute care nurse practitioner, trained to help people get through the trauma of injury or sudden illness.
What Is a Nurse Practitioner?
In many ways a nurse practitioner is similar to a registered nurse. However, a nurse practitioner has taken extra coursework and has extra experience that gives them an expanded scope of practice. A nurse practitioner can, within the scope of their training, function like a general physician. They can diagnose certain illnesses and conditions and refer patients to specialists when they feel that a higher level of care is needed. They can also specialize, becoming proficient in a specific field. For instance, a pediatric nurse practitioner specializes in the care of infants and children, while an acute care nurse practitioner works with people who have suffered injuries or sudden, violent illnesses.
Acute vs Chronic Care
As we have discussed, acute care tend to be what people receive when their condition has come upon them unexpectedly. After all, nobody expects or plans to fall off of a roof, get into a car accident or come down with a painful ear infection. Unlike people with chronic conditions, those suffering from acute illnesses often don’t know how to help themselves and must rely on an acute care nurse practitioner to give them the correct treatment. Even people with chronic conditions can have acute flare-ups of their condition, and need immediate assistance from a nurse practitioner!
After Your Treatment
An acute care nurse practitioner is there to provide timely and effective care when your life has hit an uncomfortable snag. However, there is more to the job than just patching you up and sending you home! When you are discharged from the hospital, your nurse practitioner will go over the details of caring for your injury, or recognizing the dangerous symptoms of an illness. If the patient is a child, parents will be sent home with special care instructions to deal with (or hopefully avoid) a recurrence of the incident.
The Job for You?
If you are a registered nurse looking to become a nurse practitioner, you may find that an acute care nurse practitioner is a satisfying job for you. Remember the last time you received timely and compassionate care in a distressing situation? Relieving people’s symptoms and helping them to get back on their feet is what nursing is all about. When looking over your career options, you may find that acute care (the giving end, not the receiving end!) is the place for you.