Critical Care Nurse – Career and Education Profile

If you enjoy high-pressure situations, critical care nursing might be for you. In this field, you’ll work with the sickest and most unstable patients to provide care.

Job Responsibilities

Critical care nurses work with patients who need immediate attention and continual care. Most commonly, critical care nurses work in emergency rooms and intensive care units at medical facilities, where your tasks will include recording vital signs, administering emergency care, monitoring patient progress, and keeping families updated. Critical care nurses have to be good at identifying which problems are most pressing to best provide care that will keep a patient alive. In this field, you’ll also often simply serve as an extra pair of hands for doctors who are treating patients.

Salary and Career Options

Because this field involves working with patients who are in highly unstable situations, critical care nurses typically earn more money than general RNs. LPNs are rare in this field. You could work in an emergency room or other type of facility caring for all types of patients, but critical care nurses who make the most money often work with a specialized type of patient, such as children. According to reports, critical care nurses make around $50,000 annually, though advance practices nurses in this field average much higher salaries.

Educational Requirements

Because LPNs are rarely used in critical care units, you need at least an associate’s degree to work in this field, with many positions requiring a bachelor’s degree or even master’s degree. Your education will focus on teaching you hold to respond to medical emergencies as quickly as possible, as well as how to perform more general nursing tasks. You’ll complete a combination of traditional classroom lessons and hands-on clinical work before graduating, and can seek certification in critical care if you meet your state’s requirements.


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