How do I Become a Critical Care Nurse?

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  • Written By: T. Davis
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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A critical care nurse is a registered nurse who provides critical care services to patients with life-threatening illnesses or diseases. In addition to caring for patients, they might assist doctors in the treatment of patients. If you want to become a critical care nurse, you should first obtain an associate's degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Once you complete your degree, you might have to pass certification to become a registered nurse. The next step is to apply for a critical care nursing position in order to receive on-the-job training.

To become a critical care nurse, you will need to obtain a nursing degree from a university or college. These degree programs can last up to four years. During the course, you primarily will study the human body, medications and nursing procedures. It is recommended that you have good math, social and reading skills before you apply to the program. The tuition costs can vary based on the program and its location.


The duties of a critical care nurse are very important because these nurses work with critically ill patients. Some of their duties are checking vital signs, monitoring patients and providing medications. Although they perform most of the same duties as registered nurses, they also have to monitor different types of life support equipment. Since most critical care patients require treatment around the clock, vital signs might be checked every 15 to 30 minutes. If you want to become a critical care nurse, the ability to perform in a life or death situation is often required.

A critical care nurse can work in several different medical settings. Most critical care nurses work in a hospital setting such as intensive care or the emergency room. As technology continues to grow, more nurses are beginning to work in home health care and nursing homes. After a nurse gains experience, he or she can move on into an advanced nursing position such as a nurse practitioner or an education position such as a nursing professor.

Over the years, there has been a shortage of nurses in the critical care specialty area. In order to attract more critical care nurses, most employers are offering sign-on bonuses, attractive benefits and higher salaries. To become a critical care nurse, new nurses should keep up with the latest technology and medical procedures that are in demand. As with other nursing careers, this nursing position could continue to be in high demand.



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