Intensive care unit (ICU) or critical care nurses are highly skilled healthcare professionals who care for patients with acute and life-threatening injuries or illnesses. To treat the most vulnerable and critically ill patients in the most thorough way possible, ICU nurses employ their specialized skills and extensive knowledge of disease pathology to intervene during life-threating situations to restore and sustain life. Critical care nurses can be found working in intensive care units, coronary care units, trauma centers emergency departments, and others. To be successful, these nurses need to be able to think and work quickly, meticulously, independently, and efficiently under intense and stressful conditions. Although certainly not for the faint of heart, of the many nursing specialties, ICU nurses are known to have one of the most rewarding careers around.
Some tasks and duties that are commonly carried out by intensive care nurses may include the following:
A typical workplace environment for a critical care nurse may include:
Before you decide on pursuing a career as an intensive care unit nurse you should make sure that you're equipped to handle the emotional toll that working in a critical care unit can take on clinicians. If you believe that you're up to the task after giving it some thought, you'll need to obtain the right level of education as well as an RN license. Some experience in the field as an RN in a critical care setting will also be required. After these steps have been completed, you'll then be eligible to take the exam which will allow you to become certified as a critical care registered nurse (CCRN).
To become a critical care nurse, the following educational requirements must be met:
*Although not explicitly required, prospective critical care nurses who are in their last year of nursing school are highly encouraged to seek a Nursing Student Externship. This will allow them to gain invaluable experience in assisting RNs within intensive care units.
Yes, critical care nurses are required to hold active and unrestricted RN licenses, as they must have the proper training and expertise to react to urgent and emergent situations.
Prospective intensive care unit nurses can acquire the Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).
In order to be eligible to take the Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification exam, the following requirements must be fulfilled:
*Certifications must be renewed every 3 years.
Due to the highly valuable and uncommon skill set that critical care nurses have, vacancies and opportunities for advancement within the field are abundant, making the outlook for this crucial nursing specialty look quite favorable.
PayScale.com reports that the average annual salary for critical care nurses is about $67,000. Key factors that will contribute to the how much a critical care nurse can earn include things like the city/state of employment, type of employer, how much ICU experience they have, and their educational background and credentials. Because they are usually employed by large hospital organizations or governments, benefits included in employment packages are likely to include medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage. Retirement plans, paid vacation and sick leave, and other perks are also usually available.