Office nurse is the catch-all term for a nurse who cares for outpatients in doctor’s offices, general and specialty clinics and emergency medical centers. Office nurses are usually registered nurses, most have a bachelor of science in nursing or similar education, and all are licensed to practice nursing in the state where they live. The duties of office nurses tend to be related to general patient care, versus the more specialized duties of many nurses in larger hospitals and surgery centers.
Education and Licensing
While about half of registered nurses entering the field in the 2012 hold a bachelor of science in nursing, some came into nursing with degrees in other fields and some just have an associate degree in nursing. Most office nurses do not undertake the additional specialized training required to work in a neonatal ward or a major hospital emergency room. All RNs, including office nurses, must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses to become licensed in their state.
Office nurses perform a variety of patient care responsibilities. They typically prepare patients for examinations, including basic diagnostic interviewing. Office nurses also typically administer medications and vaccines, dress wounds or incisions and even assist with minor surgery. In addition, office nurses offer advice on prescription medications and home health care to both patients and family after an exam or minor procedure.
Routine Lab Work and Record Keeping
In some practices and clinics, nurses are also expected to take blood and tissue samples and assist with or even perform routine, automated lab tests. Office nurses frequently deliver the results of in-office tests to patients, and sometimes discuss the results with patients. Office nurses typically also have some administrative and record-keeping duties relating to patient vital statistics and screening results.
Given the aging of the baby boomer generation, the health care profession as a whole is expected to continue its rapid growth over the next couple of decades, and job prospects for RNs are excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 26 percent employment growth for registered nurses from 2010 to 2020, and mentions doctor's offices and outpatient care centers as areas where RN job growth is expected to be much faster than the average 14 percent growth rate for all occupations.