Critical Care Nursing Career

Critical Care Nurses care for acutely or critically ill patients, which are patients with life threatening health conditions. Critical Care Nurses work primarily in the hospital setting. Critical Care Nurses are found in the pediatric ICU, neonatal ICU, cardiac care units, cardiac catheter labs, transitional care units, emergency rooms, post-op and recovery units, progressive care units, telemetry units, and recently Critical Care Nurses can be found working in home health care and out patient surgical clinics. Critical Care Nurses, depending on where they are working, may also have the title ICU nurse. Over a third of Critical Care Nurses in the United States work in a hospital setting.

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The majority of professional nurses working in Critical Care received critical care training during pre-licensure educational program clinical rotations. Advanced practice nurses, like Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners, are also found working in the critical care setting. Advanced practice nurses have at least a master’s in nursing with a specialization in Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist and a sub-specialty in critical care/acute care or related area.

Critical Care Nursing Certification (CCRN) is offered through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in the areas of Adult, Pediatric and Neonatal critical care nursing. Certification is not required to work in the field of critical care nursing however, it does demonstrate dedication to the field as well as superior knowledge and skill sets in the field of critical care nursing. Requirements for eligibility to sit for the Critical Care Certification exam include having worked in a critical care setting for at least 1750 hours during the previous two years. You can learn more about the certification exam requirements and benefits of certification by visiting the AACN website.

Critical Care Nurses are in high demand. In fact, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses reports that requests for temporary or traveling Critical Care Nurses have increased dramatically in recent months. This indicates a shortage of Critical Care Nurses, specifically in the areas of adult, pediatric and neonatal critical care. As health care continues to evolve and Critical Care Nurses are exposed to more complex patient presentations, the need for knowledgeable and highly skilled nurses of all education levels will continue. Many hospital’s hiring preferences are trending toward the BSN educated nurse. To stay competitive for the best positions you may want to consider an RN to BSN Program if you currently hold an associate’s or diploma in nursing.

If you are not yet a nurse, you will find the article “How to Become a Nurse” a good place to start your career as a Critical Care Nurse. If you are already a nurse, hopefully this information was useful. Professional nurses may find researching advanced nursing programs is the next step in their career. Find a Nursing Program in your State.

(Sources: American Association of Critical Care Nurses)