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Become A Critical Care Nurse

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Working As A Critical Care Nurse

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • $76,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Critical Care Nurse Do

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Duties

Registered nurses typically do the following:

  • Record patients’ medical histories and symptoms
  • Administer patients’ medicines and treatments
  • Set up plans for patients’ care or contribute to existing plans
  • Observe patients and record the observations
  • Consult and collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Operate and monitor medical equipment
  • Help perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results
  • Teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explain what to do at home after treatment

Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists. Some registered nurses oversee licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, and home health aides.

Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients they work with. For example, an oncology nurse may work with cancer patients or a geriatric nurse may work with elderly patients. Some registered nurses combine one or more areas of practice. For example, a pediatric oncology nurse works with children and teens who have cancer.

Many possibilities for working with specific patient groups exist. The following list includes just a few examples:

Addiction nurses care for patients who need help to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, and other substances.

Cardiovascular nurses care for patients with heart disease and people who have had heart surgery.

Critical care nurses work in intensive-care units in hospitals, providing care to patients with serious, complex, and acute illnesses and injuries that need very close monitoring and treatment.

Genetics nurses provide screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.

Neonatology nurses take care of newborn babies.

Nephrology nurses care for patients who have kidney-related health issues stemming from diabetes, high blood pressure, substance abuse, or other causes.

Rehabilitation nurses care for patients with temporary or permanent disabilities.

Registered nurses may work to promote public health, by educating people on warning signs and symptoms of disease or managing chronic health conditions. They may also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives, or other community outreach programs. Other nurses staff the health clinics in schools.

Some nurses do not work directly with patients, but they must still have an active registered nurse license. For example, they may work as nurse educators, healthcare consultants, public policy advisors, researchers, hospital administrators, salespeople for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, or as medical writers and editors.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They provide direct patient care in one of many nursing specialties, such as psychiatric-mental health or pediatrics. CNSs also provide indirect care, by working with other nurses and various other staff to improve the quality of care that patients receive. They often serve in leadership roles and may educate and advise other nursing staff. CNSs also may conduct research and may advocate for certain policies.

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How To Become A Critical Care Nurse

Registered nurses usually take one of three education paths: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses also must be licensed.

Education

In all nursing education programs, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and other social and behavioral sciences, as well as in liberal arts. BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete; ADN and diploma programs usually take 2 to 3 years to complete. All programs include supervised clinical experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually include additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These programs also offer more clinical experience in nonhospital settings. A bachelor’s degree or higher is often necessary for administrative positions, research, consulting, and teaching.

Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, employers—particularly those in hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree.

Many registered nurses with an ADN or diploma choose to go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and accelerated programs for those who wish to enter the nursing profession and already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement.

Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) must earn a master’s degree in nursing and typically already have 1 or more years of work experience as an RN or in a related field. CNSs who conduct research typically need a doctoral degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, registered nurses must have a nursing license. To become licensed, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Other requirements for licensing vary by state. Each state’s board of nursing can give details. For more information on the NCLEX-RN and a list of state boards of nursing, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nurses may become certified through professional associations in specific areas, such as ambulatory care, gerontology, and pediatrics, among others. Although certification is usually voluntary, it demonstrates adherence to a higher standard, and some employers require it.

CNSs must satisfy additional state licensing requirements, such as earning specialty certifications. Contact state boards of nursing for specific requirements.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must be able to assess changes in the health status of patients, including determining when to take corrective action and when to make referrals.

Communication skills. Registered nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients in order to understand their concerns and assess their health conditions. Nurses need to explain instructions, such as how to take medication, clearly. They must be able to work in teams with other health professionals and communicate the patients’ needs.

Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when caring for patients.

Detail oriented. Registered nurses must be responsible and detail oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to manage their emotions to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stresses.

Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients with various health needs. Organizational skills are critical to ensure that each patient is given appropriate care.

Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as moving patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.

Advancement

Most registered nurses begin as staff nurses in hospitals or community health settings. With experience, good performance, and continuous education, they can move to other settings or be promoted to positions with more responsibility.

In management, nurses can advance from assistant clinical nurse manager, charge nurse, or head nurse to more senior-level administrative roles, such as assistant director or director of nursing, vice president of nursing, or chief nursing officer. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions are requiring a graduate degree in nursing or health services administration. Administrative positions require leadership, communication skills, negotiation skills, and good judgment.

Some nurses move into the business side of healthcare. Their nursing expertise and experience on a healthcare team equip them to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care businesses. Employers—including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations, among others—need registered nurses for jobs in health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance.

Some RNs choose to become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners, which, along with clinical nurse specialists, are types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs may provide primary and specialty care, and in many states they may prescribe medications.

Other nurses work as postsecondary teachers in colleges and universities.

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Critical Care Nurse Career Paths

Critical Care Nurse
Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Assistant Director Of Nursing
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Team Leader Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse Clinical Research Coordinator
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator
8 Yearsyrs
Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor Nursing Director
Chief Nursing Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Nurse Consultant Nurse Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Utilization Review Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Nurse Practitioner Case Manager Nursing Director
Managed Care Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Research Nurse Instructor Therapist
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Research Nurse Clinic Registered Nurse Nurse Manager
Nursing Services Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Research Nurse School Nurse Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Practitioner Nurse Manager Assistant Director Of Nursing
Director Of Staff Development
7 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Charge Nurse Clinical Coordinator Clinical Manager
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Charge Nurse Adjunct Faculty Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Charge Nurse Clinic Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager
Hospice Director
12 Yearsyrs
Clinic Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager Patient Care Manager
Medical Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Nurse School Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Home Health Nurse Consultant Nurse Assistant Director Of Nursing
Director Of Clinical Education
11 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Program Director Director Of Health Services
Home Service Director
7 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Director Medical Director
Inpatient Services Director
12 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Staff Nurse 6.0 years
Vascular Nurse 4.4 years
Surgical Nurse 3.4 years
Step-Down Nurse 2.9 years
Telemetry Nurse 2.9 years
Top Careers Before Critical Care Nurse
Staff Nurse 23.9%
Nurse 6.6%
Top Careers After Critical Care Nurse
Staff Nurse 14.7%
Nurse 8.4%

Do you work as a Critical Care Nurse?

Critical Care Nurse Demographics

Gender

Female

70.3%

Male

16.7%

Unknown

13.0%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Hispanic or Latino

13.6%

Black or African American

12.5%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.0%

French

9.5%

Portuguese

4.4%

Russian

3.8%

Tagalog

3.2%

Chinese

3.2%

Vietnamese

2.5%

Hindi

1.9%

Filipino

1.9%

Swedish

1.3%

Mandarin

1.3%

Bulgarian

1.3%

Ukrainian

1.3%

Cantonese

1.3%

German

1.3%

Japanese

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Arabic

1.3%

Swahili

0.6%

Romanian

0.6%
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Critical Care Nurse Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

17.8%

Walden University

13.3%

Chamberlain College of Nursing

8.9%

Grand Canyon University

6.5%

Western Governors University

5.6%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.4%

South University

4.2%

University of South Alabama

4.2%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

4.2%

Ohio University -

3.3%

University of Cincinnati

3.1%

Drexel University

3.1%

University of Saint Francis

3.0%

Kent State University

2.9%

University of South Florida

2.8%

Indiana Wesleyan University

2.7%

Kaplan University

2.6%

Tennessee State University

2.6%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

2.6%

Excelsior College

2.5%
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Majors

Nursing

78.7%

Family Practice Nursing

3.6%

Business

3.5%

Nursing Science

3.0%

Health Care Administration

1.8%

Pharmacy

1.4%

Education

0.8%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

0.7%

Medical Technician

0.7%

Management

0.7%

Medicine

0.6%

Clinical Psychology

0.6%

Public Health

0.6%

Psychology

0.6%

Elementary Education

0.5%

Biology

0.5%

Health Sciences And Services

0.4%

Law

0.4%

Medical Assisting Services

0.4%

Nursing Assistants

0.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

33.9%

Masters

32.8%

Associate

15.3%

Other

8.9%

Doctorate

4.4%

Certificate

2.3%

Diploma

1.9%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$76,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$45,000
Min 10%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$128,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Freeman Health System
Highest Paying City
Palo Alto, CA
Highest Paying State
Minnesota
Avg Experience Level
4.8 years
How much does a Critical Care Nurse make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Critical Care Nurse in the United States is $76,576 per year or $37 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $45,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $129,000.

Real Critical Care Nurse Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Critical Care Pharmacist Clinician Fletcher Allen Health Care, Inc. Burlington, VT Aug 04, 2014 $124,247
Neuro Critical Care Nurse Educator Baystate Medical Center, Inc. Springfield, MA Feb 20, 2015 $100,000
Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Duke University Health System, Inc. Durham, NC Oct 01, 2014 $89,122
Critical Care RN Baptist Hospital of Miami, Inc. Miami, FL Aug 24, 2014 $84,106
Critical Care RN Baptist Hospital of Miami, Inc. Miami, FL Aug 18, 2014 $79,431
Critical Care Nurse Manager Sierra Vista Hospital Truth or Consequences, NM Jan 03, 2016 $75,049
Critical Care ICU RN Kalispell Regional Healthcare Kalispell, MT Mar 01, 2015 $74,255
Critical Care ICU RN Kalispell Regional Healthcare Kalispell, MT Dec 30, 2014 $73,734
Critical Care ICU RN Kalispell Regional Healthcare Kalispell, MT Dec 16, 2014 $73,734
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Sep 20, 2014 $69,330
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Aug 07, 2014 $69,330
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Nov 30, 2014 $69,101
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Jul 07, 2014 $69,101
Critical Care RN Baptist Hospital of Miami, Inc. Miami, FL Jul 01, 2014 $63,612
Critical Care RN Baptist Hospital of Miami, Inc. Miami, FL Jul 28, 2014 $62,860
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Celebration, FL Apr 04, 2013 $62,714
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Adventist Health System Sunbelt, Inc. Altha, FL Jul 11, 2016 $61,838
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Adventist Health System Sunbelt, Inc. Altamonte Springs, FL Jul 11, 2016 $61,796
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Altamonte Springs, FL Nov 09, 2013 $61,796
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Aug 18, 2014 $61,629
Critical Care Nurse Universal Medical Records Information Network Corp Sayville, NY Sep 02, 2014 $61,504
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Jun 13, 2014 $57,246
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Celebration, FL Jun 13, 2014 $57,246
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Dec 14, 2014 $57,205
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Orlando, FL Oct 17, 2014 $56,850
Critical Care Nurse BSN Florida Hospital Kissimmee, FL May 01, 2013 $56,746
Critical Care Nurse Adventist Health System Orlando, FL Feb 07, 2016 $56,746
Critical Care Nurse, BSN Adventist Health System Kissimmee, FL Apr 30, 2016 $56,746
Registered Nurse Critical Care Nurse Florida Hospital Winter Park, FL Jul 18, 2015 $56,599

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Top Skills for A Critical Care Nurse

  1. Critical Care
  2. Patient Care
  3. Emergency Department
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform critical care nursing in coronary care unit and provide primary care nursing to patients in a medical surgical unit.
  • Collaborated with interdisciplinary teams to ensure quality patient care and ethical decision-making.
  • Delivered high-quality hospital care/services in the emergency department.
  • Fulfilled charge nurse and preceptor responsibilities.
  • Conduct pulmonary assessments to identify abnormal respiratory patterns or breathing sounds that indicate problems.

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Top 10 Best States for Critical Care Nurses

  1. Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. New York
  4. Oregon
  5. California
  6. New Mexico
  7. Nevada
  8. Rhode Island
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Connecticut
  • (700 jobs)
  • (394 jobs)
  • (9,087 jobs)
  • (1,956 jobs)
  • (13,139 jobs)
  • (1,666 jobs)
  • (958 jobs)
  • (563 jobs)
  • (1,487 jobs)
  • (2,091 jobs)

Top Critical Care Nurse Employers

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Jobs From Top Critical Care Nurse Employers

Critical Care Nurse Videos

Nurse (Intensive Care Unit), Career Video from drkit.org

Critical Care Nurse

Critical Care Nurse Day in The Life.

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