Subacute health care is a type of inpatient care that is designed for patients who are suffering from health problems that are between acute and chronic. This type of health care is often a better alternative to much more expensive extended hospital stays.

Professionals in subacute care, like subacute care nurses, help treat and care for patients until they are stable enough to either be moved to a different level of care or able to be discharged.

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What is a Subacute Care Nurse?
What do Subacute Care Nurses Do?
Where do Subacute Care Nurses Work?
How do I Become a Subacute Care Nurse?

What is a Subacute Care Nurse?

Subacute care nurses are nursing professionals that treat patients that require round the clock – yet short-term – care until they are stabilized. Once patients are more stable, they can then be discharged or moved to a lower level of care, such as an assisted-living facility.

As a subacute care nurse, you will also get the chance to work with patients of all ages. However, the majority of your patients will most likely be elderly, as elderly individuals are more prone to suffering from health problems. Although general subacute care nurses may encounter a variety of health problems, you can also choose to specialize in certain sub-specialties of subacute care nursing, such as caring for cardiac or post-operative patients.

The medical teams in subacute care facilities often include physicians, specialists, therapists, and nurses. However, it is typically the nurses that provide the majority of the care and interact with patients the most. As a subacute care nurse, you will have the chance to interact with patients and their loved ones each and every day. This can give you the chance to form relationships with some patients and watch your hard work pay off.

Pursuing a career in subacute care nursing, while very rewarding, can also be somewhat stressful. It often requires you to work unusual shifts, including overnight shifts. Difficult and severely ill patients, along with understaffed facilities, can add to this stress.

What do Subacute Care Nurses Do?

As a subacute care nurse, you will have a number of different duties and responsibilities. For instance, you may be responsible for patient admissions and discharges as well as direct care.

Goals are often a big part of treating patients in subacute care facilities. Although the ultimate goal of these facilities is to stabilize a patient, this is often obtained through reaching several smaller goals. Like other nursing professionals, subacute care nurses are typically required to follow patient care plans when treating their patients. In some cases, these nurses may also develop the patient care plans as well.

Treatment will vary, depending on the type of health issue that each patient is dealing with. As a subacute care nurse, you will need to be skilled in a number of different nursing tasks. These tasks may include wound care, pain management, administering medications, and phlebotomy. You will also need to help patients with daily hygiene tasks, such as bathing and dressing.

Daily monitoring of patients is another important skill that every subacute care nurse must have. Each of your patients will need to be monitored closely at regular intervals throughout the day. Patient monitoring often involves checking and recording vital signs, as well as physically examining patients on a regular basis. If a treatment is not working, you must be prepared to make changes to the care plan.

Finally, subacute care nurses often work with patients that are in serious conditions. Because of this, you should also be very knowledgeable in life saving skills, like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and how to use life saving equipment, like defibrillators.

Where do Subacute Care Nurses Work?

Finding a subacute care nurse job is not usually difficult at all. Possible employers include dedicated subacute care facilities, along with hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care facilities.

How do I Become a Subacute Care Nurse?

The first steps toward becoming a subacute care nurse are earning your nursing degree and becoming a licensed nursing professional. The majority of subacute care nurses are either registered nurses (RN’s) or licensed practical nurses (LPN’s). In order to become licensed, you will need to pass the proper National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Below is the educational path for a Subacute Care Nurse (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Once you receive your licensure, you can then apply for positions as a subacute care nurse. Some employers may require you to have some prior experience as a licensed nurse, while others may welcome professionals new to the nursing profession.

Continuing education is also important. Additional courses and certifications can open new doors for you and help you make the most of your career.