Is Critical Care Nursing Right for You

Critical care nursing calls for specialized training because these nurses care for patients with life-threatening illnesses or conditions. Patients who are critically ill need intensive care and close monitoring, more than patients in a regular care unit. Since the stakes are so high, critical care nursing is a high-pressure job.

Responsibilities Of A Critical Care Nurse
Some critical care nurses work in emergency departments, some work in the ICU (intensive care unit) and others work in transitional care or post-operative recovery. No matter where they work, critical care nurses have a responsibility to advocate for, care for and support the acutely ill patient. This may involve intervention for the best care of the patient and patient education.

Critical care nurses may intercede on behalf of patients who cannot speak for themselves and may support a patient's choices by acting as a liaison among the patient, patient's family and medical staff. Addressing health issues through diagnosis, prescribing treatment and working on long-term follow-up care are also parts of the responsibilities involved with emergency nursing.

The Growing Need For Critical Care Nurses
The nursing shortage has hit specialty areas such as critical care nursing hard. To meet this need, hospitals offer incentives to those who are qualified for this specialty. Incentives may include bonuses for sign-on, education, relocation and higher salary. Hospitals may also offer advanced training to nurses who are interested in specializing in critical care, by paying for continuing education and providing advanced level training to interested RNs. 

Requirements For Critical Care Nurses
Many RNs who become critical care nurses work toward critical care certification (CCRN), which requires two years of practice as an RN to be eligible to take the certification exam.

Before you embark on this path of study, ask yourself if you have these qualities: calm under pressure, decision making skills, compassion, the willingness to assist a surgeon or doctor, a high level of knowledge and excellent people skills. These abilities will serve you well in any field of nursing, but they will be especially helpful in the field of critical care.

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