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What is acute care and why work in this sector?

by Craig Boyle
Posted: July 27, 2021

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**This is an updated post**

Being involved in healthcare can be a demanding but rewarding profession. If you’re a caring and compassionate person, it may be the ideal way for you to turn that empathy into a job. If you’d like to help people, there are few ways to accomplish this by working in acute care.

What is the difference between acute care and chronic care?

In a hospital or other medical environment, acute care refers to care where there is time pressure. This is where acute care differs from chronic care, as chronic care deals with patients who have long term illnesses. Acute care involves patients who have suffered an injury such as a broken bone, have an urgent medical condition or are recovering from surgery. 

Acute care involves the full range of medical services. And as a worker in acute care you'll  likely be at the forefront of care in order to help a patient recover. Acute care’s purpose is to improve a patient's health with rapid intervention and under time-sensitive conditions to prevent acute cases from becoming chronic ones.

Who will you help within acute care?

Because of the urgent nature of acute care, you’ll help a huge variety of patients. Whether it’s someone who has suffered a heart attack or someone recovering following a stroke, a Nurse or Nursing Assistant in acute care will deal with a wide variety of people and situations. As such, it’s a variable and challenging role that will keep you interested.

Acute care

Why work in Acute Care?

In acute care, you will often be the first person to notice if a patient begins to deteriorate. Subsequently, that also makes you the person who can react the fastest and save lives. That makes the field important not only to patients but to the healthcare system as a whole. Without good Acute Care, healthcare facilities would become overburdened.

From a personal point of view, your role in acute care will make an immediate difference to the lives of patients. Often acute patients are scared, nervous and in pain – and good care at this stage will help alleviate these emotions and set their minds at ease.

The varied nature of acute care will also appeal to people who want each day to be different. You will be working in a largely autonomous role where you’ll be helping different patients directly, performing diagnostics one day and doing something entirely different the next. The challenges, rewards, variety and personal nature of the work make acute care a compelling career path.

5 Key skills needed to work in acute care: 

1. Good organisational and time management skills 

Most workdays will be busy, and you’ll be attending to multiple patients. This means you need to be focused and diligent while working with your patients, and aware of your schedule and how much time each patient requires.  

2. Flexibility 

Working in acute care means that a situation can often change suddenly with little notice. This means you need to be adaptable and work well under pressure when a situation changes.  

3. Strong communication skills 

You’ll be working under the supervision of other healthcare professionals and supporting Nurses, so you’ll need to be able to listen to instructions and follow them accurately.  

4. Compassion and empathy 

Working with people who are sick or injured can be difficult at times. Your patients will often be worried, frightened, nervous or in a great deal of pain. This means you need to be resilient enough to deal with emotionally challenging scenarios while also providing the very best quality of care to your patients.  

5. Patience 

Occasionally, you’ll have patients who are frustrated by their condition. This can make them difficult to deal with. When you’re dealing with a difficult patient, it’s important to remain calm and remember that your job is to help people, even if they’re not always outwardly thankful for your support and your care. 

Where can I study a healthcare course? 

If you’re interested in working in acute care, you can become a Nursing Assistant through Open Colleges. Our HLT33115 Certificate III in Health Services Assistance will provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to find work in the healthcare industry.  

What are you waiting for? Enrol today and discover where a career in healthcare could take you.


Craig Boyle

Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, Craig worked for Open Colleges as a Copywriter. Craig's career passions include marketing, small business, tech, start-ups and leadership.

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