Subacute Care Nurse

Subacute care nursing is a growing, but newer specialty in nursing that has only developed and been recognized in the past few decades. It is essentially providing nursing care to patients who are between acute care and long-term care. Subacute care patients are in need of 24-hour supervision for an extended period of time, but are stabilized enough to not be in acute care. They might require wound or pain management, intravenous therapy, or ventilator support. Nursing, like most medical care, has become more and more specialized, with different levels of care offered in different locations, much like a nursing continuum. Subacute care nursing is filling a much needed niche in that continuum.

Subacute care nursing can be further specialized, with nurses focusing on infectious disease care, wound care, physical rehabilitation, cardiac, or neurology rehabilitation, or post-operative care, for example. Subacute care nurses work in subacute units that are in or near a hospital or long-term care facility or nursing home. They can help patients of all ages, although geriatric patients probably make the largest subset of their patients.

In order to work in subacute care nursing, you will have to be a licensed, registered nurse. Becoming a registered nurse (RN) can be done by earning a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university, or by earning a two-year associate degree, or, less commonly, by earning a nursing diploma from a participating hospital nursing program. A four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree would often times make you more competitive and likely increase your subacute care nursing salary, but is not necessary to enter the profession. Once you complete your degree, you will have to pass the licensing exam, which is called the NCLEX, and stands for National Council Licensing Exam. Subacute care nurses also need the knowledge and technology skills to deal with the acute care nursing, knowledge of rehabilitation, and pharmacology, in addition to standard nursing skills involving examinations, assessment, tests, and monitoring patients. Acute assessment skills are particularly important to the subacute care nurse.

Despite being a newer addition to healthcare, subacute care nursing is predicted to continue to grow, due to the rapidly growing aging population, and their need for acute and subacute care. In fact, the American Subacte Care Association was recently formed as this field took hold in healthcare and filled a much-needed gap as managed care companies strive to cut costs while better meeting healthcare needs. It will also continue to grow because advances in medical technology have enabled many people to survive illness or injury that would not have been survivable in the past, and who will need acute care and then subacute care. Subacute care nursing growth will most likely continue due to its cost-effectiveness, as patients are not kept as long in the acute care setting.

The average nursing salary was $62,450 in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to a good income, you could enjoy job growth, job security in a growing nursing specialty, and the fulfillment of helping patients who are still critical and in need of competent, empathic nursing care. Get started on your nursing education today if this growing field is of interest to you. You may soon find yourself successfully working as a subacute care nurse.

(Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

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