Acute care is the branch of nursing that specifically looks at the urgent care for those with sudden severe injuries and short-term illnesses. If you are interested in becoming an acute care nurse practitioner (NP) or just earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in acute care, consider the article's information below.
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DNP Acute Care Program
It's important to note that universities tend to concentrate programs on a specific demographic: geriatrics or pediatrics. Depending on the college you attend, you will be required to hold at least a bachelor's degree (though a master's may be necessary) and may be required to already be a licensed registered nurse (RN). So, depending on which program you select -- acute care, acute care geriatrics, or acute care pediatrics -- your core courses may vary. Specifically, if you study gerontology or pediatrics, your concentration courses will focus on the illnesses and injuries more common to their current development.
This course may be broken down into more specialized topics, depending on the university. With an evidence-based practice course, you'll do a lot of research and learn how to build the questions you're seeking answers to. You'll use articles, journals, statistics, and other relevant data to find out how to improve patient care using the information you find. You'll also learn other research methods and ways to interpret the results and data you find.
In this course, you'll look at health prevention and risk reduction. Along with health education and assessment, you'll look at real-world examples of community health. You may look at your own community, assessing its health education and the need for health programs. Most importantly, you'll look at the disparities between populations and help fight illness and injury while focusing on those diverse populations.
Though you may have already taken a pathophysiology or physiology course, this will typically be the advanced course. Here, you'll look at the mechanics of disease and epidemiology. You'll look at wellness across the lifespan and how abnormalities can be recognized in the body's systems. You'll also study how pathophysiology theories can help in the prevention of future diseases.
Acute Care Theory
Depending on the college and program, this course may be geared toward a specific population. This may also be completed as a clinical, but the theory aspect will put you in the classroom to evaluate management plans of care, as well as ways to identify symptoms. You may look at case studies for practice or spend your time learning professional patient care in an urgent, critical, or emergency setting. You may also learn how to decide when referrals should be given and to understand your own limitations in critical care.
Building on basic pharmacology knowledge that you already have, you'll study more about the way medications react within the body. You'll study various areas of pharmacology, including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacogenomics. You'll look mostly at prescribed medications and study the different classifications and uses for each. Depending on the college, you may study cultural implications and drug therapy.
Leadership in Healthcare
With a doctoral program, you'll want to study leadership and management strategies in healthcare. You'll look at organizational theory, operational processes, and managerial roles. You'll study the ethics and responsibilities of leaders, as well as how to improve your healthcare facility and patient care. You'll learn how to manage teams of workers and how to act as a leader to them for the betterment of the facility. Some time may be spent on economics of healthcare.
DNP Acute Care Salary
Acute care nurse practitioners will earn different salaries depending on the facility and state in which they work. You will find that the average salary for DNP holders as of 2018 was $100,000, according to PayScale. Though this is the average for DNP holders, it's important to remember that working in a specialization, like acute care, may lead to a higher salary. For instance, though PayScale states the average acute care NP earns about $98,116, Glassdoor stated that the average salary for 2018 was $120,955. So, the range can vary quite a bit depending on experience, location, and current need.
Studying acute care at the doctoral level can lead to a very specialized position as an NP, teacher, or leader. When studying acute care, you'll likely focus your studies on gerontology or pediatric care. Though these two are not the only ones offered, they are most common in universities. Earning your DNP degree will increase your salary, but depending on the state and area you wish to work as an NP, your salary will vary.