Urgent Care Nursing, What's it Like?

  1. Hi everyone

    I'm looking for some insight on nursing in an urgent care setting. I'm a pretty new nurse, I'm going on my 7th month as a Pediatric RN at a large children's hospital on a Trauma/Ortho/Observation unit on nights. I absolutely love my floor and my team. I feel so lucky and blessed to be on a great floor with great management, and in Peds right out of nursing school. I am pretty well adjusted to nights, but sometimes find myself struggling with not having a set schedule each week/day hours. Things like family time, fitness/eating right, social life, etc. are all kind of wonky, but I do love my job.

    I have always been interested in nursing in an outpatient setting, even during nursing school (since I do plan on going back to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in primary care). Our hospital has 4 associated urgent care locations and one of them is about 5 minutes from where I live - the hospital is a good 40 minute drive from me. I am interested in possibly transferring to urgent care after a good year or so of floor nursing. Although the thought of leaving my floor and my team breaks my heart, I definitely love the thought of an outpatient setting and having normal (or semi-normal) days/hours.

    I would love any info on what urgent care nursing is like and what a typical day consists of/what an RN's role is. Any urgent care nurses out there who love it? Hate it? Anyone transferred from floor nursing to urgent care? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!!
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    About Amber307, BSN, RN

    Joined: Aug '12; Posts: 111; Likes: 8


  3. by   ivyleaf
    i assume you are looking at urgent care that includes adult pts?

    i have spent a decent amount of time floating to my group's urgent care clinic. the vast majority of pts we see are adults.

    we have an MA (medical assistant) working with each doctor/provider and 1-2 nurses in addition, depending on the day of the week and time of day. nurses are responsible for ivs, meds, culture/lab callbacks, responding to higher acuity pt situations, delegating to MAs as needed. also cover ma lunches working 1:1 with doctors depending on staffing.
    nurses also share "rooming" (vitals, quick assessment of why pts are here), "screening" (we arent really supposed to call it triage since ma's do it too..), administration of nebulizer treatments, discharging pts (quick review of things to watch for and going over rx's), doing ekgs, and assisting with minor procedures, point of care testing (flu, strep, pregnancy etc), phlebotomy (we draw our own labs); with the mas. usually the nurse floats between different providers (we usually have between 2 and 4 providers at a time) assisting as needed and helping to manage patient "flow"/movement, in addition to responding to the higher acuity situations (chest pains, pts requiring ivs).

    shifts are either 8 or 12 hrs (only open 8 hrs on the weekend) and nurses work every other weekend. usual open hours are 8-8 or 8-5.

    day consists of floating between helping docs/mid levels 1:1, assessing pts briefly either in triage or prior to provider assessment, taking vitals, lots of POCT, and culture callbacks/letters in the afternoon. the overall variety is nice, although the stream of otherwise perfectly healthy adults coming in looking for antibiotics for their cold or 1 day gi bug can get old real fast. as opposed to primary care, it's great not to have to deal with a constant stream of pt follow up calls, Rx requests, narcotic refills, prior auths, etc. i like being in triage.

    my background is in psych (both inpatient and outpatient), and case management and health education for the psych population; i never worked med/surg, so i can't give you that perspective.

    hope that helps!
  4. by   Lipoma
    I currently work in UC as a MA in Boston and relocating to philly for nursing school. I really enjoy working in UC wish to return to this specialty once I finish with nursing school. In my current office we do not employ nurses. The MAs function as the nurse (without the title or pay). Everything listed above by ivyleaf is done by me. I either do (3) 12s in a week or (1) 6 (1) 12 and (2) 9s in a week which spans out to be either 3 on 4 off or 4 on 3 off.

    In other urgent cares in the area they have MAs and nurses and MAs are limited to triaging patients and vital signs. So I'm curious to see what other nurses around the country are doing in UC.