How to Become an ICU Nurse

How to Become an ICU Nurse

Critical care or intensive care nursing is a nursing discipline that focuses on caring for patients that have critical and life threatening conditions. Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses are registered nurses that provide care to patients with serious conditions in emergency and intensive care environments.

What does an ICU nurse do?

ICU nurses (also called critical care nurses) care for unstable and critical patients that have severe injuries, illnesses, or diseases that need constant monitoring and extensive treatment. They perform complex assessments and administer lifesaving treatments, medications, and interventions. They closely monitor patients and record any changes to their condition. They repeatedly check vital signs and monitor life support equipment. ICU nurses work closely with other medical personnel to provide the best care possible. ICU nurses also serve as patient advocates where they respect and support the rights and requests of patients that are critically ill. They provide information about the care to the patient or their family

What kind of training does an ICU nurse need?

ICU nurses are usually registered nurses. All nursing programs provide intensive instruction and clinical experience in many different medical disciplines. Prospective ICU nurses learn how to care for patients in critical care settings and the uses of the essential equipment. Many aspiring prospective ICU nurses complete internships or work as nursing assistants in ICU settings to gain practical experience. All registered nurses must pass a national licensing examination. Many ICU nurses also gain the Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. ICU nurses must complete annual continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast on the current technological advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as an ICU nurse?

Employment of ICU nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and increased need for critical medical care will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for ICU nurses with graduate education and extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace ICU nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do ICU nurses make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of ICU nurses earn annual salaries between $57,565 and $67,688. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $72,199 (2).

A career as an ICU nurse is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care to patients with life threatening conditions. ICU nurses must be able to interpret complex medical information and provide constant observation and treatment to patients. They must be emotionally stable and be able to make quick decisions in emergency situations. They must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to work effectively as part of a team.

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