Acute Care Nurse Job Description

Acute Care Nurse Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Are you searching for an acute care nurse job description? Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an acute care nurse. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an acute care nurse.


Who is an Acute Care Nurse?

A registered nurse who has completed a graduate-level educational program that prepares them for the role of acute care nursing is known as an acute care nurse (ACN) or acute care nurse practitioner. To develop advanced knowledge, skills, and capacities, this curriculum incorporates supervised clinical practice. They are now equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform thorough health assessments, order and interpret a wide range of diagnostic tests and procedures, use a differential diagnosis to arrive at a medical diagnosis, and order, deliver, and assess the results of interventions on their own.

The mission of the ACNP is to offer advanced nursing care throughout the spectrum of medical services to address the unique physiologic and psychological requirements of patients with severe, life-threatening, and/or complex chronic illnesses. At the state level, nurse practice acts and administrative rules and regulations define requirements for licensure. Because of rapid changes in health care technologies, state nurse practice acts rarely define specific tasks that a nurse practitioner may conduct. Many state nurse practice acts still do not define the scope of practice based on board certification or educational preparation.

In states that require collaborative practice agreements, these documents frame the scope of practice for entry-level ACNPs. Collaborative practice agreements may also include language about the future expansion of the scope of practice based on continuing education and field experience. ACNPs with collaborative practice agreements review them often to ensure that they confer the authority to practice at the full extent of education and training. This care is ongoing and all-encompassing, and it can be given wherever the patient is. The ACN is a qualified independent practitioner who has the authority to give care on their own. The ACN takes into account formal consultation and/or collaboration between patients, carers, nurses, doctors, and other members of the interprofessional team whenever it is appropriate.

The range of abilities, techniques, and processes for which a nurse practitioner has received formal training, education, and credentialing make up their scope of practice. The four levels of the scope of practice for nurse practitioners are professional, institutional, state, and self-determined. The AACN and the ANCC, professional nursing organizations, govern nursing certification and release recommendations for the practice areas and criteria for ACNs.

An institutional nurse practitioner privilege form specifies the ACNP scope of practice. This document covers both standard privileges that apply to all nurse practitioners working in an institution and unique privileges that are specific to each ACNP’s education and experience. The privilege form outlines which procedures can be carried out alone and which ones need a doctor’s supervision. The privilege form may additionally specify the number of supervised procedures that must be completed before the ACN is allowed to practice independently for specific practices (such as intubation and chest tube placement). Depending on the practice environment and the medical specializations of cooperating physicians, an ACN may be granted a variety of privileges. Last but not least, ACNs use self-determination to decide if a particular work falls within the scope of practice. To exercise self-determination, one must not only assess their abilities but also be aware of those of the other staff of the healthcare team.


Acute Care Nurse Job Description

What is an acute care nurse job description? an acute care nurse job description is simply a list of duties and responsibilities of acute care nurse in an organization. Below are the acute care nurse job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an acute care nurse job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The primary duty of an acute care nurse is to provide patients with the care they need to maximize the possibility that their medical treatment will be successful. Some crucial responsibilities of an acute care nurse include:

  • Diagnosing illnesses that could have a life-threatening instability or quickly deteriorate physiologically.
  • Performing emergency medical interventions like basic cardiac life support (BLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and recording information about the care of patients.
  • Administering intravenous infusions or transfusions of blood and blood products, maintaining patient sedation and pain management, and adjusting treatment plans as necessary.
  • Evaluating urgent and emergent medical issues and then using the findings to interpret the outcomes of diagnostic testing and screening procedures.
  • Interpreting data from radiography (X-rays) or electrocardiograms (EKGs), they may also set up, run, or monitor invasive equipment and gadgets.
  • Keeping track of patients’ vital signs
  • Implementing treatment plans and giving drugs
  • Evaluating diagnostic procedures, such as radiology, and electrocardiograms (EKGs), and occasionally performing them
  • Updating patient records to maintain accuracy in record keeping
  • Working with medical professionals and other team members to modify treatment plans as necessary



  • Registered nurse (RN) holding a multistate compact license or an equivalent state license.
  • A National Council Licensing Examination is required (NCLEX-RN).
  • Completion of a recognized nursing diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses certification (AACN) depends on your location.
  • Two years or more of experience working in an acute care setting.
  • The ability to bear both physical and emotional strain is required.
  • Significant periods spent standing and moving


Essential Skills

  • Effective communication: Whatever type of nursing position you end up in, communication will be a key component of your duties. Patients frequently receive treatment explanations from nurses, who also provide any necessary clarification. Even patients with a very limited understanding of medicine can benefit from the clarity and accuracy with which good nurses can communicate medical facts. Additionally, nurses occasionally have to break the bad news to patients and their families; doing so calls for clear yet caring communication skills. In addition to being skilled in verbal communication, good nurses need also be adept at nonverbal cues including body language. Owing to the frequent collaboration of nurses with doctors and technicians, they must be prepared to communicate patient concerns or pain areas in a timely and accurate manner.
  • Critical Reasoning: A patient’s condition could change at any time, requiring nurses to move quickly, identify potential aggravating issues, and choose the best way to carry out patient care. Both when delivering treatment and diagnosing patients, the capacity to appraise new or unexpected developments with solid critical thinking is essential. Critical thinking skills are necessary for the assessment of patients, interpretation of test data, and diagnosis performed by APRNs and nurse practitioners.
  • Patient Evaluation: No matter what stage of your nursing career you’re in, it’s important to have a foundational understanding of evaluating patient conditions and deciding whether your patient requires emergency treatment. Nursing professionals should be particularly skilled in technical tasks including assessing pulse, monitoring vital signs, and listening for symptoms of forced breathing. Additionally, nurses should be able to recognize and help with diseases and symptoms that might occasionally be challenging. Assessing urgent situations and adhering to the appropriate procedures to save lives.
  • Empathy: You can come across patients and their families who are experiencing extreme anxiety or grief as a nurse. Even though these interactions are frequently challenging, everyone deserves caring treatment. Excellent nurses can keep their composure and empathy, especially under trying conditions. This could be being cordial in communication, developing a connection with patients, and making sure that patients always feel safe and secure.
  • Acute Care: Nurses should be skilled at offering fundamental urgent care. No matter what nursing position you have, you can encounter patients who are suffering from life-threatening situations including cardiac arrest, severe bleeding, or an obstruction in their airway. As a result, nurses must be adept at techniques like cardiopulmonary resuscitation and wound care (CPR). To ensure that patients are directed to the correct department and level of care, you could also be needed to triage patients as they enter the emergency room.
  • Physical Tenacity: As a nurse, you’ll probably have to put in long shifts and may have to spend a lot of time standing. While working, you might also be required to perform challenging duties like carrying large objects or patients. For success and to prevent injuries, physical strength and endurance are necessary. Injuries or physical weariness could be more likely for nurses who aren’t in good physical shape. Additionally, they can just discover that their health prevents them from giving patients the best care possible.
  • Technical Expertise: Advanced software, such as those used to maintain electronic health data, is becoming more and more important in the realm of health care (EHRs). According to new treatments, appointments, clinical outcomes, or diagnoses, nurses are frequently asked to move, access, or update patient files. Nursing professionals must stay up-to-date on new technologies to deliver the best care. These technologies range from health monitoring systems to portable medical devices.


How to Become an Acute Care Nurse

  • Obtain a BSN: You must first possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing to become an ACN (BSN). You must first earn a bachelor’s degree if you just have an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Before beginning any graduate program, this is a requirement. Two programs would assist you to reach your objectives if you are an RN with an ADN. They are an online BSN program and a bridge program between RNs and BSNs. Before applying, it’s crucial to ascertain which programs you are eligible for because each one has different prerequisites. Determine whether you need hands-on classroom training or are a distance learner. For nurses who have finished an ADN degree or are diploma RNs and need to advance their education, RN-BSN bridging programs are perfect. For professionals who are working and busy, online RN-BSN programs are excellent. These courses enable the student to work at their own pace and whenever their schedule permits.
  • Complete a Program for Acute Care Nursing: There are three different types of acute care nurse programs available both in-person and online for nurses with a BSN and are thus; MSN-NP which is a popular choice for NP programs, the MSN-NP is for students who already have their BSN and want to enroll right away in the graduate-level course work. The basic is that the candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree in Nursing sciences. Students who enroll in DNP (Doctorate Nurse Practitioner) programs can earn their while also completing the necessary training to become nurse practitioners. In general, nurses who intend to work more in an academic or research-based environment should consider the DNP. The basic prerequisite is that candidate must hold a BSN degree. Thirdly, you can look for a school that offers a post-graduate certification option to enable you to enroll immediately in the program if you have a graduate degree in a field other than the one you want to concentrate on now with your NP. The basic prerequisite is that you must either have your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or be a certified nurse practitioner in another specialty to enroll in post-graduate certificate programs.
  • Pass the Certification Test or Exam: Acute care nurse practitioners can earn board certification from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies has accredited the tests offered by AACN Certification Corporation.
  • Obtain an APRN license: Individuals must apply for an APRN license to the state board of nursing after passing the certification exam. A person may possess multiple state board licenses (like an RN), but these can only be requested after the original board certification has been completed. The initial certification and renewal criteria vary by state. For more information, it is crucial to visit the state board of nursing website.


Where to Work as an Acute Care Nurse

Nurses that specialize in acute care work in a variety of settings. employers consist of:

  • Regional healthcare facilities and academic hospitals
  • Acute care facilities
  • Centers for outpatient surgery
  • Private clinics
  • Acute long-term care facilities
  • Professional nursing homes
  • Providers of in-home care services
  • Government institutions

Depending on your background, education, and area of specialization, you might work in one of the following units or departments within a facility:

  • Surgical and medical floors
  • Pre- and post-op care
  • Advancing care facilities
  • Step-down appliances
  • Cancer treatment
  • Pediatrics
  • Elderly care
  • Newborn care
  • Cardiology

Acute care nurses with experience who are not qualified or educated as critical care nurses may also be assigned to work in emergency rooms and intensive care units in times of need and in smaller or more distant facilities.


Acute Care Nurse Salary Scale

ACNPs make an average yearly pay of $105,450 and an hourly wage of $55.23, per Payscale data from May 2022. The pay might vary depending on several variables, such as geography, demand, and education.

The average wage for ACNPs is significantly greater than the national average. The average salary for all occupations in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), was $58,260. The only NPs with average incomes greater than ACNPs, according to the BLS, are nurse midwives ($114,210) and nurse anesthetists ($202,470), while registered nurses (RNs) earn an average yearly mean salary of $82,750.

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