(Last Updated On: 05/04/2017)

Critical Care Nurse Job Description

Critical Care Nurses work in intensive care units, where they provide advanced nursing care for patients in critical condition.

This is an advanced and highly specialized area of nursing that requires high-intensity therapies and a specialized skill set to perform at a high level. Normally, these nurses work very closely with individual patients to assess their pain levels, monitor their medical equipment, and alert a doctor when advanced care is required.

Responsibilities for critical care nurse jobs often include:

  • Administering medications orally, by injection, or through other methods.
  • Providing emotional support to a patients’ families and explaining medical procedures.
  • Monitoring and evaluating patients’ vital signs.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most critical care nurses work in the critical care units of hospitals. Because many people in critical care units may have infectious diseases, these nurses must be very cautious and take all necessary precautions to keep themselves healthy.

Because hospital patients require 24 hour care, the working hours for critical care nurses can be very long and irregular. Working nights, weekends, and holidays is very common.

How to Become a Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses must have a degree in nursing, either at the associate’s or bachelor’s level. Advanced care nurses must have a postgraduate degree. All critical care nurses are required to pass a licensing exam dictated by the Board of Nursing in their state.

Some employers require that critical care nurses have a CCRN certification offered by AACN. A minimum of two years experience is required before a nurse is eligible to take the exam.

Required Skills

Critical care nurses must be able to think quickly. In the event of an emergency situation, they must be able to quickly diagnose the problem and take the necessary steps to correct it.

Because they’re constantly exposed to human suffering and emergencies, it’s important that these nurses are emotionally stable. It’s not easy to see people suffer, and not everyone is cut out for it.

In many ways, critical care nurses serve as an advocate for their patients and their families. A high level of empathy and strong communication skills are required in order to do this job well.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 2,737,400 critical care nurses in the United States, with 120,740 new critical care nurse job openings created each year.

Critical Care Nurse jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Critical Care Nurse Salaries

Overall Salaries

Critical Care Nurse salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most critical care nurses make between $53,800 – $80,400 per year, or $25.85 – $38.65 per hour.

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