If you’ve ever watched coverage of an accident, fire, or other medical emergency on the news, you’ve probably heard the expression “critical condition.” Critical condition means that someone is extremely ill or injured and that person’s life is hanging in the balance. Critical care nurses are trained to handle these acutely ill patients.
As a critical care nurse, you will need to be able to make good decisions in a split second and remain calm under pressure. It is important to be a compassionate person, as you must also help patients and their families emotionally in crisis situations, including offering comfort to families if the patient should not survive. You will use cutting-edge medical equipment and technology in order to conduct high-level medical interventions. You may work in a hospital setting in an intensive care unit, cardiac care unit, emergency room, or recovery room. You may be involved in air transport of critically injured patients. Or you might work in home health care or outpatient surgery facilities.
Some critical care nurses work for the military. They often help with the transport of critically injured troops in a combat environment.
Critical care nurses must be registered nurses and must have advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) and basic life support (BLS) certifications. They are encouraged to continue their education throughout their career, in order to keep them updated on the latest developments in life-saving tools and techniques.
Critical care nurses earn an average of $65,000 per year. Very recently, it was almost impossible for new graduates of nursing school to obtain jobs as critical care nurses. Today, the demand for critical care nurses is very high, and many hospitals have established internship programs to help new registered nurses move into this exciting and fulfilling RN job.