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Career Details

29-1141.01 - Acute Care Nurses

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.

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The tasks listed below can be performed to prepare you for a career in this field.
  • Diagnose acute or chronic conditions that could result in rapid physiological deterioration or life-threatening instability.
  • Distinguish between normal and abnormal developmental and age-related physiological and behavioral changes in acute, critical, and chronic illness.
  • Manage patients' pain relief and sedation by providing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions, monitoring patients' responses, and changing care plans accordingly.
  • Interpret information obtained from electrocardiograms (EKGs) or radiographs (x-rays).
  • Perform emergency medical procedures, such as basic cardiac life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and other condition-stabilizing interventions.
  • 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.
  • Collaborate with members of multidisciplinary health care teams to plan, manage, or assess patient treatments.
  • Discuss illnesses and treatments with patients and family members.
  • Document data related to patients' care, including assessment results, interventions, medications, patient responses, or treatment changes.
  • Treat wounds or superficial lacerations.
  • Set up, operate, or monitor invasive equipment and devices, such as colostomy or tracheotomy equipment, mechanical ventilators, catheters, gastrointestinal tubes, and central lines.
  • Obtain specimens or samples for laboratory work.
  • Participate in patients' care meetings and conferences.
  • Refer patients for specialty consultations or treatments.
  • Administer blood and blood product transfusions or intravenous infusions, monitoring patients for adverse reactions.
  • Assess the needs of patients' family members or caregivers.
  • Collaborate with patients to plan for future health care needs or to coordinate transitions and referrals.
  • Read current literature, talk with colleagues, and participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in acute care.
  • Participate in the development of practice protocols.
  • Perform administrative duties that facilitate admission, transfer, or discharge of patients.
  • Provide formal and informal education to other staff members.
  • Analyze the indications, contraindications, risk complications, and cost-benefit tradeoffs of therapeutic interventions.
  • Adjust settings on patients' assistive devices, such as temporary pacemakers.
  • 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.
  • Prescribe medications and observe patients' reactions, modifying prescriptions as needed.
  • Assist patients in organizing their health care system activities.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
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The items listed below are organized into sections that contain knowledge useful for pursuing a career in this field. Each section also contains a "Percentage of Importance" statistic that shows how relevant an item is to the occupation.
 Medicine and Dentistry
  • 93%
    Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
 Customer and Personal Service
  • 87%
    Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
 English Language
  • 86%
    Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
 Education and Training
  • 83%
    Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • 81%
    Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
 Therapy and Counseling
  • 77%
    Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • 68%
    Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • 66%
    Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
 Sociology and Anthropology
  • 61%
    Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
 Public Safety and Security
  • 59%
    Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
 Administration and Management
  • 58%
    Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • 54%
    Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • 54%
    Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
 Computers and Electronics
  • 52%
    Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
 Law and Government
  • 52%
    Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
 Philosophy and Theology
  • 52%
    Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
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The tools listed below include machines, equipment, tools, and software that is useful for individuals who are interested in this career.
 Specimen collection and transport containers and supplies
  • Lancets
  • Tourniquets
  • Evacuated blood collection tubes
  • Specimen collection containers
 Medical staff clothing and related articles
  • Protective face shields
  • Protective medical face masks
  • Protective gowns
 Medical gloves and accessories
  • Medical examination protective gloves
 Electrotherapy equipment
  • Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation TENS equipment
 Floor grade instruments
  • Alligator forceps
  • Ring forceps
  • Straight hemostats
 Heat and cold therapy products
  • Hyper/hypothermia blankets
 Medical suction and vacuum products
  • Nasal suctioning equipment
  • Oral suctioning equipment
  • Tracheal suctioning equipment
 Injection and aspiration needles and accessories
  • Epidural catheters
  • Pericardiocentesis kits
  • Thoracentesis kits
  • Thoracentesis trays
 Syringes and accessories
  • Bulb syringes
  • Hypodermic syringes
  • Blood drawing syringes
 Urological supplies
  • Urinary catheters
 Emergency medical services resuscitation products
  • Automated external defibrillators AED
 Blood pressure units and related products
  • Blood pressure monitors
  • Sphygmomanometers
 Electrocardiography EKG units and related products
  • Electrocardiography EKG machines
  • Telemetry monitors
 Pulse oximeters
  • Pulse oximeters
 Acute care monitoring units and related products
  • Fetal monitors
  • Intracranial pressure monitors
  • Cardiac monitors
  • Hemodynamic monitors
  • Transport cardiac monitors
 Scopes and specula and accessories for medical exam diagnostic use
  • Ophthalmoscopes
  • Otoscopes
  • Nasal specula
  • Vaginal exam specula
  • Bronchoscopes
 Medical thermometers and accessories
  • Digital medical thermometers
 Hearing testing products
  • Diagnostic tuning forks
 Ophthalmic diagnostic exam products
  • Visual acuity charts
  • Ophthalmic slit lamps
  • Ophthalmic tonometers
 Patient beds and accessories
  • Isolettes
  • Newborn warming lamps
  • Clinical trapeze traction bars
  • Specialty patient care beds
 Patient transport products
  • Medical gurneys
  • Wheelchairs
  • Transfer boards
 Medication dispensing and measuring devices and supplies
  • Automated medicine dispensing equipment
 Medical ultrasound and doppler and echo imaging products
  • Doppler ultrasound equipment
  • Ultrasound transducers
 Cardiac pacemakers and related products
  • Transcutaneous pacemakers
  • Transvenous pacemakers
 Intravenous and arterial cannulas and catheters and accessories
  • Arterial line catheters
  • Swan Ganz artery catheters
  • Multiple lumen central line catheters
  • Umbilical catheters
  • Intravenous IV administration sets
  • Intravenous IV cutdown trays
 Nasoenteric tubes
  • Nasogastric tubes
 Casting and splinting supplies
  • Orthopedic splinting equipment
 Respiratory monitoring products
  • Apnea monitors
  • Arterial blood gas testing equipment
  • End tidal carbon dioxide monitors
 Oxygen therapy delivery systems and devices
  • Oxygen concentrators
  • Oxygen flowmeters
  • Oxygen delivery masks
  • Nasal catheters
 Respiratory humidity and aerosol therapy products
  • Electronic compressor nebulizers
  • Handheld nebulizers
 Airway management products
  • Endotracheal ET tubes
  • Tracheotomy sets
  • Nasopharyngeal airways
 Intubation supplies
  • Magill forceps
  • Intubation sets
 Positive mechanical pressure ventilators and accessories
  • Mechanical intermittent positive pressure ventilators
  • Bilevel positive airway pressure BiPAP ventilators
 Resuscitation supplies
  • Manual resuscitation bags
 Surgical cutting instruments and snares and related products
  • Surgical scalpels
  • Straight surgical scissors
  • Ring cutters
 Autotransfusion products
  • Autotransfusion systems
 Surgical equipment and accessories and related products
  • Electrosurgical cauterization machines
 Medical tissue closure and related products
  • Surgical staple removers
  • Skin staplers
 Suture and related products
  • Laceration repair trays
  • Suture removal kits
  • Laptop computers
  • Desktop computers
  • Tablet computers
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
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The technologies listed below include machines, equipment, tools, and software that is useful for individuals who are interested in this career.
 Content authoring and editing software
  • Microsoft WordHOT
  • Microsoft PowerPointHOT
  • Microsoft ExcelHOT
 Industry specific software
  • Allscripts Professional EHR
  • Amkai AmkaiCharts
  • Bizmatics PrognoCIS EMR
  • Cerner Millennium
  • ChartWare EMR
  • GE Healthcare Centricity EMR
  • Medscribbler Enterprise
  • MicroFour PracticeStudio.NET EMR
  • NextGen Healthcare Information Systems EMR
  • SOAPware EMR
  • StatCom Patient Flow Logistics Enterprise Suite
  • SynaMed EMR
  • Texas Medical Software SpringCharts EMR
  • e-MDs software
  • eClinicalWorks
 Information exchange software
  • IBM Lotus Notes
  • Microsoft OutlookHOT
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
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The certifications listed below are useful to pursue if you are interested in a career in this field.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
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The licensing information below is organized into sections and is useful for pursuing if you are interested in a career in this field.
No specific licensing information is listed for this occupation in the area you have selected.
All data sourced from US Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration O*Net Database.
Related Programs
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Programs related to this career, offered by participating institution(s), are listed below.

Clicking on the Degree programs in the list below will take you away from the Careers page.
Blue Ridge Community College
Bluefield University
Brightpoint Community College
Central Virginia Community College
Danville Community College
Eastern Mennonite University
George Mason University
Germanna Community College
J Sargeant Reynolds Community College
James Madison University
Laurel Ridge Community College
Longwood University
Mary Baldwin University
Marymount University
Mountain Empire Community College
Mountain Gateway Community College
New River Community College
Norfolk State University
Northern Virginia Community College
Old Dominion University
Patrick & Henry Community College
Paul D. Camp Community College
Piedmont Virginia Community College
Radford University
Rappahannock Community College
Shenandoah University
Southside Virginia Community College
Southwest Virginia Community College
The University of Virginia's College at Wise
Tidewater Community College
University of Mary Washington
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Highlands Community College
Virginia Peninsula Community College
Virginia Wesleyan University
Wytheville Community College
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