Is Acute or Primary Care Nursing the Right Choice for You?

If you are considering pursuing, or have already begun, a career in nursing, then you will already know that there are many different types of nursing roles. These include registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Each career path focuses on specific training and specialties, but modern approaches to healthcare and technology require the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

For those nurses who wish to have more responsibility and impact, an additional master’s degree can lead to provider or primary care physician (PCP) status as a nurse practitioner (NP). Due to a shortage in trained physicians, a majority of states have expanded the authorities of an NP in today’s healthcare setting, allowing for diagnosis, ordering diagnostic tests, and prescribing subsequent treatment options.

Nursing roles can also vary from acute to primary care. Within this classification, the general or family nurse practitioner salary can vary across the map, depending upon the area of specialization and expertise. Online FNP degrees from Carson-Newman University prepare students for a healthcare setting.

Whether it is in cardiology or oncology, a prospective NP must decide if they would prefer to work in acute or primary care. Confusion may exist as to what these terms mean, but each working environment has its own challenges, opportunities and rewards. The goal is to align your personality type with the appropriate field.

What is acute care nursing?

The word ‘acute’ connotes severe, difficult and intense. Acute care nursing encompasses each of these meanings and several more. If you imagine an immediate, hands-on approach in an emergency room situation, for example, then you have an accurate description of this discipline. For those individuals who are cut out for dealing with diverse situations on an immediate basis, and who have a variety of specific skillsets, acute care nursing may be an appealing option.

From a timing perspective, an acute care nurse will be focused on short-term results related to severe cases ranging from strokes to patients with chronic medical conditions or, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, appropriately handling patients with infectious diseases. In a hospital setting, think in terms of serving in an intensive care unit, an emergency room, or in an NICU for newborn children. You will deal with multiple situations, involving anything from taking vitals and caring for a patient to operating technical equipment.

What is primary care nursing?

If you shift from short-term to long-term relationship care, then you can visualize the challenges of primary care. In these cases, the majority of your work will take place in a physician’s office. Once again, you must command a wide range of skills to address the needs of your patients, but the focus is more on preventing disease and promoting good health over the long haul.

Developing lasting relationships with patients is a rewarding experience for those nurses who prefer providing this type of medical attention. Meeting and supporting a diverse population of people requiring minor attention to such issues as the common cold, asthma or allergic reactions is common in a day’s work.

This role also requires excellent communication skills. If you are more comfortable in a general family medicine setting or with pediatrics or geriatrics, then primary care nursing may be the vocation that is more suitable for you.

Demand for nurses will expand throughout this decade

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the shortages of qualified nursing personnel in the healthcare industry. Studies conducted by the American Nurses Association suggest that the demand for nurses may grow more than any other similar profession in the years to come. Growth rates are expected to average 7% per annum through 2029 and produce a host of opportunities for those individuals choosing this career path. While a bachelor’s degree is quickly becoming the industry standard, pursuing an online graduate course of study can lead to a more lucrative position as an NP.

The demand for NPs and FNPs will more than likely exceed averages for the entire nursing profession due to the shortage of qualified physicians that has developed over the past few decades. This demand is reflected in compensation data for NPs, which reflect the financial stability that this career path offers. Six-figure incomes are not uncommon. One compilation from details 63 of the highest-paying job descriptions for NPs in a number of employment categories, offering annual pay rates in excess of $100,000 per year.

Is it possible to switch careers and join the nursing profession?

If you are passionate about helping other people and giving back to your community, then the nursing profession may be your avenue for satisfying these desires. Whether you begin your career in this discipline or decide that a change in direction is necessary, there are programs that can make your dream turn into a reality. Many of these programs can be taken online when time permits, and the general assessment is that these programs do produce qualified graduates, prepared and ready to take on immediate responsibilities in the healthcare profession.

If you take pride in making a difference in the lives of others, then the time might be right to invest in your future and embark upon a program to gain the skillsets and certifications necessary to succeed in nursing. Demand for nursing professionals has never been greater, and the healthcare industry is known for its stability. The financial advantages are well defined, but there are also advancement opportunities. Your future might entail further specialization in your craft or may lead to leadership positions or the opportunity to start your own business.

Concluding remarks

Nursing professionals are in high demand today, as evidenced by higher compensation levels, a career path for advancement, and the ability to make a difference in today’s society. There are several types of nursing roles to pursue, and depending upon your individual preferences, there are ample opportunities to serve in both the acute and primary care divisions within the healthcare industry. Demand is expected to grow at a dramatic pace over the remainder of the decade and beyond, offering both stability and the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.