All About Ambulatory Care Nursing

What Is Ambulatory Care Nursing?

Ambulatory care nursing involves nursing in settings that are outside of the traditional hospital setting. Consequently and ambulatory care nurse may be employed on an ambulance to provide on the scene assistance to patients who are experiencing a medical emergency. As an ambulatory care nurse you will expect to be fairly mobile and move from place to place depending on where your services are needed and at what times. This is ideal for nurses who don’t like to be tied down by one setting.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

A big part of the ambulatory care nurse’s role lies in promotion. Nurses with this specialty are expected to promote healthcare and health maintenance to their patients as a preventative measure for future occurrences as well as a form of assisting the patient to take care of themselves. In addition you will need to provide healthcare to patients with varying illnesses or injuries as well as providing education to patients on how to manage their injury or illness once they are at home. Ambulatory care nurses are also involved in spreading information to clients. Consequently they are active in providing healthcare either face to face with patients or over the phone or internet. Last but not least ambulatory care nursing involves assisting patients in preventing and managing their illnesses.


Because of the nature of ambulatory care nursing, you will find nurses with this specialty employed in a number of different and somewhat diverse settings. These settings may include ambulances, day surgery units, ambulatory care surgeries, physicians offices, community centers, schools, workplaces, home care, clinics, Health Insurance Companies (where you may provide health care advice via telephone or the internet), and the government (where you may provide health care advice via telephone or the internet). This has advantages in that:

  • You are not tied down in one setting all the time.
  • You will, once you have decided what area of nursing you are particularly interested in, be able to get as job in practically any field with your vast experience and knowledge.

Ambulatory Care Nursing Requirements

The basic requirements and recommended qualifications for being an ambulatory care nurse are the following:Ambulatory Care Nursing

  • You must have a minimum of two years of experience working as an RN.
  • You can earn certification by documenting 2,000 hours (1 year full-time) experience in Ambulatory Care Nursing within the last three years.
  • (Alternative) You can earn certification by completing 30 hours of Ambulatory Care Nursing Continuing Education within the last three years.

Certification is not compulsory and there is basically no additional training or education that you can complete in order to become a specialist in this area. However certification, which will be discussed in a bit more detail later, is useful when it comes to finding a job and boosting your resume and marketability.

Personality Traits

As ambulatory care nurse you will need to have all of the usual skills that all nurses are required to display, such as warmth and empathy and an attention to detail. There are, however, two skills that will be particular useful for someone pursuing a career in this line of nursing. Firstly it is important that you have excellent interpersonal skills. This is because you will be required to meet with and work with a large number of different patients and people on a daily basis, and consequently you need to be able to cope and work with each and every one of them. Secondly you must demonstrate and ability to keep your head under pressure as ambulatory care nurses are frequently engaged in emergency situations where quick thinking and a cool head are required.

Educational Requirements

The basic educational requirements that you will have to meet in order to be an ambulatory care nurse are one of the following:

  • You could choose to earn a diploma in nursing, OR
  • You could choose to earn an associate’s degree in nursing, OR
  • You could choose to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing

Any of these will render you eligible to write the licensing examination that will allow you to become an RN. In addition to that you can choose to earn certification s an ambulatory care nurse, although this is not required. If you do earn certification however you will be more marketable. More information about how to earn this credential can be found by enquiring at the American Nurses Credentialing Center:
600 Maryland Ave., SW, #100
Washington, DC 20024-2571


The license that you need in order to be an ambulatory care nurse is your RN license. No other licenses are required. To earn this license you will need to hold a high school certificate. This certificate will gain you access to a nursing program. Once you have completed the nursing program, which must be accredited and which must result in your right to take the NCLEX-RN examination, you can apply for licensure with your state board of nursing, bearing in mind that different states have different licensing rules. Once your state board of nursing confirms your right to become licensed, you can set an exam date with Pearson VUE. This will cost you about $200. Your results will be sent to your state board of nursing and you will be informed of your licensure status shortly thereafter.

How To Become An Ambulatory Care Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

In order to maintain your RN licensure you will need to engage in continuing education. This is a requirement in most states. If you would like to specifically become an ambulatory care nurse, you should focus your continuing education units on topics such as Phlebotomy, IV therapy, ECG techniques, Triage and telephone advice, and Teaching. These are useful concepts that will serve you well in an ambulatory care nursing environment. If you are working in one of the states that do not require nurses to engage in continuing education, it is recommended that you nevertheless pursue additional education in order t ensure that you have as much knowledge as possible for the field and that you are as marketable as possible for when it comes time to seek another job.

Source An Accredited Education Program

It is extremely important that you complete your RN training through an accredited program. There are a number f ways in which you can determine the accreditation status of a school you are interested in:

  • The school itself should provide this information on a website although this cannot always be trusted.
  • Current nurses in your city will be able to tell you about the accredited programs through which they qualified as RNs.
  • The best source of information is your state board of nursing as you can be sure that its records will be accurate and up to date.

If you do not attend an accredited school you will be unable to write the NCLEX-RN examination needed for licensure and will have, therefore, wasted both your time and your money on the program.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

To become an RN you need to earn a nursing degree of some kind. One of the more popular degrees that people choose is the associate’s degree. This can be earned by researching the schools in your area that offer associate’s degrees in nursing and creating a shortlist of the best options based on your personal preferences and needs. You should then apply for more than one of the schools on your list, remembering to keep the specific application procedures for each specific school carefully in mind. Applying for multiple schools will increase your chances of speedy acceptance into a program. Completing all of the theoretical and clinical aspects of the program will earn you your associate’s degree. The more advanced the degree that you have is, the more marketable you will be when searching for a job.

Obtain Your Licensure

The only license required for this line of work is the RN license as mentioned previously. However you also have the option of becoming certified as an ambulatory care nurse. This is compulsory in some states and not required in others, but, because it improves your resume and your employment opportunities, it is suggested that you become certified even if it is not required in your state. To become certified you must do the following:

  • Certification can be gained by documenting 2,000 hours (1 year full-time) experience in Ambulatory Care Nursing within the last three years.
  • In addition certified ambulatory care nurses must also have completed 30 hours of Ambulatory Care Nursing Continuing Education within the last three years.

This does not require very much of your time and is therefore a worthwhile pursuit.

Online/Distance Education Programs

There are a number of schools that offer online and distance education options for becoming a nurse. However it is important that you remember that any nursing training program must include practical and clinical training. This means that it will literally be impossible to complete a nursing training course entirely online as you will not receive any clinical exposure in this way. However there are schools that allow you to complete the theory portion of the course online while you attend an actual health care facility to complete your clinical training, and this can go a long way to relieving the stress and pressure of studying to become a nurse. In addition you will be able to work at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for nursing in general is extremely good as we are expecting an increase in the industry of about 22%. In addition the ambulatory health care nursing sector is also likely to increase at a great rate on the basis that there is a growing elderly population (as a result of the baby boom generation reaching old age). This demographic of the population often requires more assistance from ambulatory care nurses than any other. There is also a marked increase in the attention that people are given to preemptive care, another reason why ambulatory care nurses will continue to have a strong job outlook. In addition this line of work exposes you to many different skills and settings, making you more marketable in nursing in general and thereby improving your job prospects even further.


The average salary that you can expect to earn as an ambulatory care nurse is about $50,000 a year. This is not a bad salary at all and tends to be slightly higher than what can be earned by a regular RN. The salary may vary depending on several factors:

  • Different states tend to pay nurses different salaries
  • Different employers tend to pay nurses different salaries
  • Different industries tend to pay nurses different salaries
  • The amount of experience that you have as an ambulatory care nurse may also affect your salary
  • The level of education that you have earned plays a very important role
  • To a certain degree your gender may, in some very specific instances, affect how much you are eligible to earn as an ambulatory care nurse

This is a nursing specialization that is well worth pursuing on the basis that the educational prerequisites and the amount of time it takes to earn the specialization are minimal. In addition you will have the opportunity to work in a variety of different settings and with a variety of different health care problems which will provide you with a broad set of skills, making you more marketable. It is not the specialization that pays the most, but it does provide you with an opening to expand your qualifications and become more advanced in the field of nursing the future. If you are trying to decide on a specialization, this is one of the better options to choose.

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