What does an ambulatory nurse actually do?!

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by Jacqueline King Jacqueline King (New) New

I have worked in a Cardiac ICU for the past 11 years. 6 months ago our unit transitioned into a medical/surgical ICU and I'm not a fan. I've actually never felt like ICU nursing was a good fit for me. I'm not an adrenaline junkie, I hate the responsibility and stress of lives being in my hands. I'm good at my job but I feel like I've always had to fake the confidence in myself. I've always said my dream job would be a boring desk job haha. Anyway, I recently applied to an ambulatory nursing job in a women's outpatient clinic at my same company. The posting was quite vague and I have no clue what the job expectations really are. What sorts of things do nurses do in primary care clinics? 

Yellownurse15

Yellownurse15, MSN, RN

Specializes in Wound Care, Public Health, Dialysis, Primary Care. Has 5 years experience. 89 Posts

When I worked in primary care, my title was Triage RN. I worked at a clinic that served adults and pediatrics. I had my own office. When patients called and hit the option for nurse, it came to my extension. I did phone triage and walk in triage. I had my own “nurses schedule” of pts to see for BP checks, shots, glucose checks, med questions, lab draws, etc. I did med refills by facility protocol and prior authorizations for insurance. I filled out ppw for providers so they could sign. If staffing was short, I worked in clinic assigned to a provider. I also did various tasks such as check the crash cart, help monitor inventory, and disaster preparedness. I loved it. 

Jacqueline King

Jacqueline King

3 Posts

thank you so much! That is very helpful! That's a lot of variety! 

Yellownurse15

Yellownurse15, MSN, RN

Specializes in Wound Care, Public Health, Dialysis, Primary Care. Has 5 years experience. 89 Posts

6 hours ago, Jacqueline King said:

thank you so much! That is very helpful! That's a lot of variety! 

You’re welcome! I’m not an adrenaline junkie either so the primary care setting is great for me. I recently accepted a dialysis job to try something new and because the schedule is 3-4 days/week vs 5 like primary care. I hope you get the job and good luck! 

T-Bird78

T-Bird78

Has 6 years experience. 1,007 Posts

As Yellow said, expect phone and walk-in triage, RX refills, and nurse visits. You can expect to work with a provider rooming pts, getting v/s, med reconciliation, HPI, ROS, set up/assist with in-office procedures, argue with insurance companies for scripts or imaging requests, keep the doctors on schedule, clean and sanitize exam rooms, clean and sanitize instruments, run the autoclave, keep inventory and order supplies, high-level disinfection of scopes (I’m ENT but not everybody has endoscopes), and supervise CMA’s. It is a variety of tasks. I’ve only worked this setting but was pulled to help work in a local hospital earlier this year due to the COVID surge. One of the RNs was retiring from the hospital and someone asked if she was going to do “an easy job, like working in a doctor’s office” and I corrected her quickly. No, it’s not the same as hospital work but it still has its share of stresses. I call it a different kind of crazy. In the hospital, you’re in your own little bubble of however many beds and you have your 5-7 pts to care for, you hand off at end of shift, and tomorrow you may get the same pts or you may not.  In an office, we get 40-50 pts a day (the most we’ve had that I can recall is 60 pts in one day for two providers all day and a third provider for a half day). 

Yellownurse15

Yellownurse15, MSN, RN

Specializes in Wound Care, Public Health, Dialysis, Primary Care. Has 5 years experience. 89 Posts

14 minutes ago, T-Bird78 said:

As Yellow said, expect phone and walk-in triage, RX refills, and nurse visits. You can expect to work with a provider rooming pts, getting v/s, med reconciliation, HPI, ROS, set up/assist with in-office procedures, argue with insurance companies for scripts or imaging requests, keep the doctors on schedule, clean and sanitize exam rooms, clean and sanitize instruments, run the autoclave, keep inventory and order supplies, high-level disinfection of scopes (I’m ENT but not everybody has endoscopes), and supervise CMA’s. It is a variety of tasks. I’ve only worked this setting but was pulled to help work in a local hospital earlier this year due to the COVID surge. One of the RNs was retiring from the hospital and someone asked if she was going to do “an easy job, like working in a doctor’s office” and I corrected her quickly. No, it’s not the same as hospital work but it still has its share of stresses. I call it a different kind of crazy. In the hospital, you’re in your own little bubble of however many beds and you have your 5-7 pts to care for, you hand off at end of shift, and tomorrow you may get the same pts or you may not.  In an office, we get 40-50 pts a day (the most we’ve had that I can recall is 60 pts in one day for two providers all day and a third provider for a half day). 

Agreed!

Jacqueline King

Jacqueline King

3 Posts

Wow! Thank you for the info! I definitely see how the job can be just as busy and stressful as bedside nursing just in a different way. Thank you guys for the snapshot of what it's like!