Student Nurse Wanting More Information on Clinic Nursing

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    i'm a junior right now in Nursing school gettign my BSN and I'm interested in working in a clinic. I haven't found a lot of information on the topic though as it seems as though most nurses are interested in working in the hospital setting.

    Is being a clinic nurse very community oriented? Do I have the opportunity to give shots and do some of those skills that I would do in the hospital? Also, to what extent does a nurse at a clinic need to be knowledgeable in medications?
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

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    I work in the OB/Gyn department of a large multi-site clinic that has pretty much any specialty you can think of (we have a lot of HMO patients). I give way more injections at the clinic than I ever gave in the hospital (in my dept, depo provera for contraception, weekly progesterone for moms at risk for preterm labor, Rhogam for neg Rh mothers, various vaccines like flu and TDAP). Also do blood draws. Some departments in my clinic do IV therapy (walk-in care, oncology) but we pretty much send pregnant women who need fluids to L&D so they can also have long-term monitoring. I do nonstress tests (electronic fetal monitoring) weekly or biweekly on pts with conditions that warrant it toward the end of their pregnancy. Of course what you do depends on what type of specialty you work in. You get to know the meds you work with, and those will be different for different departments. I look up those that I don't give all the time. I also spend a LOT of time on the phone triaging, answering questions, doing Rx refills, notifying patients of lab or ultrasound results.
    The phone is my least favorite part of the job, but I do really like working in a clinic better than in a hospital for several reason only some of which are that I like the 8-5 (although I do work one evening late), no weekends, no holidays, plus I get an hour for lunch and actually get to eat and pee during my day which often was a very difficult thing to do at the hospital.
    As for community oriented, I am not sure of your exact meaning. Clinics like the VNA (Visiting Nurse Association) take uninsured and public aid patients,and that might be what you are getting at. My clinic used to take public aid before I started working there, but now it is only on a case-by-case basis (preg mom who lost insurance will be treated throughout, sometimes a longtime pt of a doctor will be authorized by the MD to see the doctor). I do like that I see some of the same pts over and over and really get to know them.
    A lot of people will say you should work in a hospital first (just like they say you should work in med surg before going anywhere else in the hospital). I did work in a hospital for 2 years and think it does help, but I also know my clinic has hired new grads in the past who have worked out really well. It's a very different workflow than the hospital, and nursing school pretty much trains you for hospital work. I had a lot to learn when I made the switch, but I am very happy I did.
    shortscrubbs108 likes this.
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    I agree with much of the above. I work in pulmonology so I have become very familiar with inhalers and other commonly prescribed meds there but they provide us with updated drug books for reference. I give alot of flu and pneumonia shots on a daily basis and once in a while something different, had to give one patient rocephin IM 3 days in a row (that was interesting) I also perform the occasional EKG.
    Much of my time is also spent on the phone, sometimes I get frustrated and it feels like a waste of time, but I have one guy who reminds me every time I talk to him that I saved his life by convincing him to go to the Er when he was having chest pain and shortness of breath (bit of an over statement, but point is sometimes they just need someone to tell them what they need to hear)
    I started in the clinic as a GPN. I don't regret working not working in a hospital or LTC. It is a bit different as I am an LPN, but we do have RNs, they don't make half what they would in the hospital, but all of them have told me the hours and atmosphere more than make up for it.
    As for being community oriented, my clinic is part of a larger health system in the area and together we do alot of community programs, education, charity drives etc.
    I hope that helps, I love clinic nursing! It can be challenging, but I find it very rewarding and love the relationship I have developed with many of my patients and coworkers.
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    I'm an RN and started in a busy (read hectic and stressful!) urology clinic that performed many invasive procedures. We did trans-rectal ultrasound biopsies of the prostate, cystoscopy, vasectomies, and various catheterizations (suprapubic, hypospadias, and "normal"!). Our patients were very sick and often dying from cancer. We often provided education on home care and various options for end of life care. It was challenging and humbling. Then I moved to a different state and became a float nurse for specialty clinics and it was a lot of phone calls, computer messages, and hardly any patient contact, other than indirectly. This kind of clinic nursing is way different and I don't like it as much as my first job. I feel like I'm more of an administrator than a nurse.

    So, to answer your questions, yes most clinics are community oriented in that the community accesses care through them. In some clinics, the MA will do most of the shots, assist with minor procedures, and room the patients. Other clinics, like pediatric clinics, the RN is more involved and medication administration and knowledge are important.

    The hours for clinic nursing are prime, usually days with no weekends or holidays and no on call. The pay scale for clinic nurses reflects the good working hours and clinic nurses typically make 5-10% LESS than hospital nurses. You probably will not use the skills you learn in school very much in the clinic. We do a lot of triage on the phone and medication refills.

    You can become board certified by the American Association of Ambulatory Care Nurses after 2 years of working in ambulatory care. It's a credential that validates the work we do in clinics and it shows you take the work seriously.

    I hope this helped you and good luck with the rest of school!
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    Thanks everyone for your responses. I appreciate it.


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