Critical Care Nurses


Exploring this Job

There are many ways to explore nursing careers. You can visit nursing Web sites, read books on careers in nursing, or talk with your high school counselor or teacher about the career or ask them to set up a talk by a critical care nurse.

If you are already a nursing student, you might consider becoming a student member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. This will give you access to Critical Care Nurse, Advanced Critical Care, American Journal of Critical Care, and other association publications that discuss issues related to critical care nursing.

The Job

A critical care nurse's main responsibility is providing highly skilled medical and postsurgical care for critically ill patients. Critical care nurses may be assigned one or two patients as opposed to being involved in the care of several patients.

For example, a certified critical care nurse might work in the pediatrics intensive care unit of a children's hospital. He or she might work as a bedside nurse and as a relief charge nurse, responsible for the administration of the ward. He or she might even work as part of a ground transport team that transports critically ill or injured children to the hospital.

Critical care nursing requires keeping up with the latest medical technology and research as well as medical treatments and procedures. These nurses must operate high-tech machines and be well-versed in the latest procedures.

Critical care nursing is a very intense nursing specialty. Patients require constant care and monitoring. Many nurses are required to work 12-hour shifts, which can be very exhausting.

In many cases, critical care nurses are confronted with situations that require them to act immediately on the patients' behalf. The nurse must be a patient advocate, meaning that the nurse must help the patients receive the best possible care and respect their wishes. They must also provide support and education to the patients and their families.

Although the job can be an emotionally draining, it is also rewarding.