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Become An Intensive Care Unit Nurse

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Working As An Intensive Care Unit Nurse

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $67,460

    Average Salary

What Does An Intensive Care Unit 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 An Intensive Care Unit 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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Intensive Care Unit Nurse Jobs

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Intensive Care Unit Nurse Career Paths

Intensive Care Unit Nurse
Staff Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Assistant Director Of Nursing
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Research Nurse Case Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Critical Care Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor Clinical Manager
Clinical Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Staff Nurse
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist Respiratory Therapist
Director Of Clinical Education
11 Yearsyrs
Emergency Room Nurse Nurse Nursing Director
Director Of Clinical Operations
12 Yearsyrs
Emergency Room Nurse Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Practitioner Nurse Manager Nursing Director
Director Of Staff Development
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Research Nurse Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Manager Nursing Director Director Of Health Services
Home Service Director
8 Yearsyrs
Emergency Department Registered Nurse Staff Nurse For Emergency Department Nurse Manager
Inpatient Services Director
12 Yearsyrs
Nurse Home Health Nurse Staff Nurse
Interim Director
10 Yearsyrs
Nurse Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager Clinical Manager
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Case Manager Clinical Liaison Medical Science Liaison
Medical Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager
Nursing Director
9 Yearsyrs
Critical Care Nurse Nurse Nurse Manager
Nursing Services Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Nurse Case Manager Nurse Manager
Patient Relations Director
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Supervisor Senior Technician Specialist Occupational Therapist
Therapy Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Intensive Care Unit Nurse?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Staff Nurse 5.9 years
Trauma Nurse 3.5 years
Surgical Nurse 3.4 years
Step-Down Nurse 3.3 years
Nurse 3.1 years
Telemetry Nurse 2.8 years
Top Employers Before
Staff Nurse 24.5%
Nurse 7.2%
Top Employers After
Staff Nurse 15.1%
Nurse 9.6%

Do you work as an Intensive Care Unit Nurse?

Intensive Care Unit Nurse Demographics

Gender

Female

79.7%

Male

18.7%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

60.9%

Hispanic or Latino

15.8%

Black or African American

12.1%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.9%

French

11.4%

German

4.5%

Cheyenne

2.3%

Vietnamese

2.3%

Igbo

2.3%

Cherokee

2.3%

Gujarati

2.3%

Hindi

2.3%

Tagalog

2.3%

Italian

2.3%
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Intensive Care Unit Nurse Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.4%

Walden University

11.7%

Grand Canyon University

9.8%

Chamberlain College of Nursing

7.1%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

5.6%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.5%

University of South Alabama

4.5%

Indiana Wesleyan University

4.5%

University of Pennsylvania

4.1%

Drexel University

3.8%

South University

3.4%

Georgetown University

3.0%

Florida International University

3.0%

Liberty University

3.0%

Frontier Nursing University

3.0%

Northeastern University

3.0%

University of Florida

2.6%

Vanderbilt University

2.6%

East Carolina University

2.6%

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

2.6%
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Majors

Nursing

77.9%

Family Practice Nursing

4.7%

Business

3.3%

Nursing Science

2.9%

Health Care Administration

2.2%

Education

1.2%

Clinical Psychology

1.1%

Public Health

0.9%

Management

0.8%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

0.8%

Psychology

0.6%

Health Sciences And Services

0.5%

Medicine

0.5%

Pharmacy

0.5%

Nursing Assistants

0.4%

Information Systems

0.4%

Law

0.4%

Medical Technician

0.3%

Medical Assisting Services

0.3%

Health And Wellness

0.3%
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Degrees

Masters

40.7%

Bachelors

34.0%

Associate

10.4%

Other

7.5%

Doctorate

4.3%

Certificate

2.1%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.3%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Intensive Care Unit Nurse Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse Westways Staffing Services, Inc. Mesa, AZ Oct 01, 2011 $78,894
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Staff Nurse Wyckoff Heights Medical Center New York, NY Dec 15, 2009 $75,018
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit RN South Miami Hospital, Inc. Miami, FL Jun 22, 2012 $71,404
Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager GUAM Healthcare Development, Inc. Aug 25, 2016 $70,000
Medical Intensive Care Unit Assistant Nurse Manage Institute of California, LLC San Diego, CA Dec 07, 2011 $67,579
Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center Patchogue, NY Dec 15, 2009 $67,347 -
$39
Intensive Care Unit Nurse Medical Dynamic Systems, Inc. NY Sep 20, 2010 $63,003
Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager GUAM Healthcare Development, Inc. Aug 25, 2016 $62,610
Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse Westways Staffing Services, Inc. Smithville, TX Oct 01, 2011 $62,546
Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager Institute of California, LLC San Diego, CA Oct 01, 2010 $61,027
Medical Intensive Care Unit Assistant Nurse Manage Institute of California, LLC San Diego, CA Aug 17, 2010 $61,027
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager Institute of California LLC Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2010 $60,944
Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager Institute of California LLC Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2009 $60,299
Intensive Care Unit-Registered Nurse Management Health Systems, Inc. Hialeah, FL Dec 10, 2009 $60,210
Intensive Care Unit-Registered Nurse Management Health Systems, Inc. Hialeah, FL Nov 09, 2009 $60,210

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Top Skills for An Intensive Care Unit Nurse

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  1. Intensive Care
  2. Charge Nurse
  3. Trauma
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed intensive care nursing knowledge of neurology and cardiology involving the critically ill.
  • Worked as a CCU Charge Nurse as needed, responsible for all the nurses and patients in a 23 bed unit.
  • Traveled to variety of hospital settings ranging from rural community hospitals to university medical and large metropolitan trauma centers.
  • Deliver specialized care to critically ill and immediate post-operative open-heart patients requiring continuous nursing care and application of advanced technologies.
  • Ensured patient safety by efficiently and effectively carrying out physician orders and communicating pertinent patient information with all medical staff involved.

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Top 10 Best States for Intensive Care Unit Nurses

  1. Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. Oregon
  4. New York
  5. Nevada
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Texas
  8. New Mexico
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Connecticut
  • (264 jobs)
  • (110 jobs)
  • (615 jobs)
  • (2,930 jobs)
  • (311 jobs)
  • (1,325 jobs)
  • (2,934 jobs)
  • (579 jobs)
  • (481 jobs)
  • (616 jobs)

Top Intensive Care Unit Nurse Employers

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Jobs From Top Intensive Care Unit Nurse Employers

Intensive Care Unit Nurse Videos

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