Office nurses render care to sick individuals in outpatient facilities such as a doctor’s office, community clinics, dialysis centers, ambulatory surgical and pain management centers and emergency medical centers. Generally, these professionals do more than assisting a doctor. Although it is one of their crucial roles to perform, working as an office nurse requires exceptional critical thinking skills and an ability to act on their own in emergent conditions.
Roles and Responsibilities
In an outpatient unit, office nurses prepare the patients for simple examinations and assist them through it. With the prescription by the physician, they can administer medications. In most cases, minor surgeries are performed in the facility requiring the professional assistance of an office nurse. In addition, they also perform clerical duties by making a thorough and organized record of patient’s files and some office management documents that have to be kept.
Unlike other nurses, such as pediatric and obstetric nurse, nursing staff working in an outpatient department entertains all clients regardless of gender and age. Oftentimes, health teachings are performed by these personnel especially after medication administration, date of follow through check-up, pain and case management and even discharge planning.
Although duties and responsibilities vary depending on the type of office, listed below are the typical roles of an office nurse:
- Vital signs monitoring
- Wound care
- Giving shots of pharmaceuticals as ordered
- Changing catheters
- Monitoring IV infusion
- Health care education
- Carry out doctor’s order
- Management of patient discharge
- Performing routine procedures
- Information dissemination
- Carrying out administrative tasks such as keeping records
- Office management
- Assisting doctors with procedures
Amongst the skills necessary for an office nurse to obtain are the listed items:
- Calm and Knows how to Deal with Clients. Often patients coming in an outpatient facility are stressed out which caused them to react intensely over some things. Showing calmness in emergent situations would help lower the anxiety of the relatives, spouse, significant others or even the patient himself.
- Good communication skills. One important ability office nurses must develop is o properly communicate to patients. Studying for four years made nurses excellent in explaining medical occurrence of diseases. However, when talking to patients, explaining condition or giving out instruction using a “too-much-medical” approach is a big NO! Office nurses act instructions from the physician to the client and it should be simply explained to prevent confusion and promote adherence to medical direction.
- Accurate observation skills. Although it is the doctor’s responsibility to assess the patient thoroughly, nurses should also provide objective and accurate assessment to patients coming in. This skill is very important as prompt management of condition is done only with an accurate observation.
- Ability to make decisions based on the observed signs and symptoms.
- Strong clinical skills. Admittedly, there are nurses who are only good in examinations and theories. However, when actual clinical application is performed these individuals tend to lose their academic confidence. To become an office nurse, the knowledge and overall GPA may be helpful but what is strongly needed in actual settings is a strong clinical skill. Possession of this skill allows the nurse to move past the confusion of going over the books and act based on observed cues and make decisions out of it.
The gamut of office nurses’ annual pay is approximately $40,000 to $90,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The same institution states that the average annual salary for these professionals is roughly $65,070.
Education and Training Requirements
- Degree and License. To qualify as an office nurse, one must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the national licensure examination. Currently, three programs are recognized for aspiring nurses:
- Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) – 4 years from an approved college or university. This program offers the most ideal scope for advancement in nursing career. Those individuals who pursue a 2-3 associate course or diploma programs usually enter a bachelor’s program for career advancement.
- Associate degree – 2-3 years only from a junior or community college
- 3-year diploma program – implemented by teaching/training hospitals
Although these three programs qualify students to be employed as a registered nurse, the BSN provides the opportunities for promising career advancement.
- Specialized certification as an office nurse. The said certification is obtained from the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, otherwise known as AAACN.
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