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Critical care nursing is a complex and challengingnurse specialtyto which

manyregistered nurses(RNs) aspire. Also known as ICU nurses, critical care
nurses use their advanced skills to care for patients who are critically ill and at
high risk for life-threatening health problems.

Critical Care Nurse Duties and Responsibilities

When a patient has suffered a heart attack, stroke, shock, severe trauma,
respiratory distress or other severe medical issue, it is vital that they receive
immediate and intensive nursing care. Critical care nurses are adept at
providing such care in settings where patients can be given complex
assessments and treatment.
Specific critical care nurse duties and responsibilities include:
Assessing a patients condition and planning and implementing patient care plans
Treating wounds and providing advanced life support
Assisting physicians in performing procedures
Observing and recording patient vital signs
Ensuring that ventilators, monitors and other types of medical equipment function properly
Administering intravenous fluids and medications
Ordering diagnostic tests
Collaborating with fellow members of the critical care team
Responding to life-saving situations, using nursing standards and protocols for treatment
Acting as patient advocate
Providing education and support to patient families

Critical care nurses may also care for pre- and post-operative patients. In
addition, some serve as case managers and policy makers, while others
perform administrative duties.
Check out the new Nursing Specialization Career Guide

Requirements and Qualifications for Critical Care

Critical care nurses must first be RNs with experience in general patient care.
Because of the complexity of patient care involved in this specialty, many
employers hiring critical care nurses show preference to applicants withBachelor
of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Some nurse education programs offer
courses in critical care, but many practitioners learn through field training in a
hospital setting.
Many critical care nurses choose to earn the Certified Critical Care Nurse
(CCRN) designation offered through the American Association of Critical-Care
Nurses (AACN).

Characteristics and Skills of Critical Care Nurses

Critical care nurses must be proficient in a wide variety of high-level nursing
skills. They need to be experts in evaluating intensive care patients,
administering care, recognizing complications and coordinating with other
members of the critical care team. Successful critical care nurses also excel at
interpersonal communication, leadership, strategic planning, critical thinking and

RN Salary Range
A survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2011
showed the average salary for RNs nationwide was $69,110.RN salariesranged
from $44,970 for those in the lowest 10% to over $96,630 for RNs in the highest
90% of earners. RNs at the upper end of a pay scale typically have higher levels
of education and experience and work in roles of increased responsibility.
Because salary potential may vary depending on location, education and
experience, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent
research to determine actual earning potential.

Work Environment
Critical care nurses work in emergency rooms, critical care wards, walk-in
clinics, doctor offices and other healthcare settings. Because patients are
treated around the clock, critical care nurses are usually required to work
rotating shifts that include days, nights, weekends and holidays. The job can be
physically demanding, as well, requiring standing, lifting, bending and stretching.

Critical Care Nurses are in Demand

Rapid advances in technology and healthcare have made it possible to save

more patients and help them return to health. As a result, critical care nurses are
in demand across the country. In some areas, they are needed to fill acute
staffing shortages. If youre an RN planning to advance your education and
broaden your career opportunities, critical care nursing could be the right
specialty for you. Get started earning your BSN degree by applying for Villanova
University'sRN to BSN onlineprogram.