Critical care nursing is the focus of nursing to care for critically unstable or injured patients. Critical care nurses are most commonly used in emergency rooms and Intensive Care Units. Most critical care nurses are registered nurses (RNs) and are trained to deal with crisis, emergency, and high stress situations.
In the United States, licensed RNs are able to train and become certified as critical care nurses once they have completed at least two years of on the job experience. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) oversees the training and certification of experienced RNs and allows them to train to become critical care certified. Once certified, critical care RNs hold the title of CCRN. This deems them certified to the standards set by the AACN. In addition to the CCRN certification, the AACN offers other certifications which are similar to the CCRN, including the progressive care certification, cardiac medicine certification, and cardiac surgery certification.
Most critical care nurses work in hospitals in or near the emergency room or intensive care unit (ICU). Critical care nurses also often work in areas of high-dependency, including post-operative and medical evacuation units. Employment for critical care nurses is in high demand. Each state has their own registration rules and restrictions, and a nurse must be registered within the state in which they choose to work. If a nurse is not registered in the state of their choice, they can apply to test and qualify to become registered in that state. The CCRN certification offered by AACN is recognized nationwide. Critical care nurses must also be trained and able to operate a wide range of technology used in critical care situations. Training to learn how to use this equipment must be completed prior to certification and continuing education and additional training must be completed each year to maintain certification.
In addition to working in an ICU or emergency room, there are many critical care nurse jobs available in other units. Many critical care nurses will select to work with newborn children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), or the Adult Intensive Care Unit (AICU). The availability of these nursing jobs depends on the size and need of the patient population.
The work environment experienced by critical care nurses is much more intense than that of other units. Constant pressure, quick thinking, and high-risk situations are immensely stressful and are often extremely psychologically taxing. The stress of working in the ICU or emergency room is unique to this area of the nursing profession.
If you are a licensed RN with at least two year’s work experience, you may qualify to become a CCRN. If you haven’t trained and taken your certification test, you must first do so to become a certified CCRN. Once you have done this, you will be able to look for a critical care travel nursing job. If you are currently certified, there is likely a great need for CCRN’s in your area or the area you would like to work! Simply fill out a short form to find out which jobs are available in the state of your choice and to find the perfect CCRN travel nursing job for you.