An outpatient nurse is responsible for the overall care of patients seeking treatment at an outpatient medical facility. At outpatient clinics, patients seek treatment and minor surgery for physical and mental illnesses, and injuries. It is the responsibility of an outpatient nurse to ensure the comfort of patients before, during and after medical procedures and surgery.
Patients placed in an outpatient medical facility must be under careful watch to ensure they are prepared for treatment and recovering adequately from medical procedures. An outpatient nurse observes patients on a regular basis and charts symptoms and progress. It is the responsibility of an outpatient nurse to report changes and concerns to physicians and specialists.
Outpatient nurses draw blood, check vital signs, monitor blood pressure, temperature and pulse, and ensure that IV lines are maintained. An outpatient nurse may also be required to assist with surgery, supplying physicians with needed surgical tools and instruments.
In many cases, patients do not stay overnight at outpatient clinics. Therefore, an outpatient nurse must ensure that a patient is prepared to recover at home. Before discharge, an outpatient nurse will check symptoms, administer medication and provide written precautions for patients. In addition, an outpatient nurse instructs patients and caretakers on how to take medication and perform minor medical procedures, such as in-home therapy for recovery.
As a registered nurse, an outpatient nurse also has job opportunities at physician offices, hospitals, and community clinics. Job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Qualifications and Earnings
An outpatient nurse must possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as state licensing to practice as a registered nurse. Some facilities may also require a master’s degree in nursing or continued education courses in medical outpatient care. The earnings for an outpatient nurse will vary based on experience, education level and the geographic area where a registered nurse is employed. The BLS reports that registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $62,450 in 2008.