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What is an Intensive Care Nurse?

Critical Care nurses (also referred to as ICU Nurses or Intensive Care nurses), work in the critical care or intensive care units within hospitals. Their job is to monitor and provide care to critically ill or medically unstable patients who have experienced life-threatening injury, trauma or are experiencing an exacerbation of a chronic medical condition. In many cases the patients may be near death or at the risk of dying. They routinely care for patients who are intubated, ventilated and require complex doses of medications. ICU Nurses also operate and monitor some of the most complex medical technologies and life support systems.

What are the Responsibilities as an ICU Nurse?

The ICU Nurse works in a constant moving environment. Due to the nature of critical care, there is no profile of a typical patient. Patients may have been healthy prior, or people with long term chronic but stable medical conditions, but due to an extreme medical event now require constant, round the clock monitoring and care.

Working together with physicians (potentially medical specialists from just about any field) and other technicians, the ICU Nurse will continue to provide quality patient care, in accordance with established intensive care unit procedures and standards. They will assist the physicians in carrying out the plan of care and monitor for any changes in the patient’s condition.

What is the Working Environment for an ICU Nurse?

Intensive Care Nurses work in a fast paced environment. All staff require top level professionalism and team-wide synergy, as well as a constant state of alertness. The unpredictable ICU challenges its nurses to adapt and perform a diversity of tasks and techniques, requiring quick decision-making skills and attention to detail.

What is the Average Salary for an ICU Nurse?

In general, an average ICU Nurse salary is higher than an average RN salary due to the skilled work environment and the specialized task requirements an intensive care nurse is required to fulfil.

How to Become an ICU Nurse?

Intensive Care Unit Nurses must graduate with either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school. You must also pass your licensing exam to become a registered nurse (RN). Most facilities prefer nurses who have experience in the intensive or critical care unit and especially those who have a critical care registered nurse (CCRN) certification which can be pursued after two years of experience in the CCU. Some ICU nurses have master’s or doctorate degrees, and some have certifications in progressive care, cardiac medicine, cardiac surgery, or transport nursing.

What are the Considerations in Accepting any Position in an Intensive Care Unit?

Congratulations! You have gone through the process of applying for a job as an ICU Nurse, and have received an offer for employment. Now it’s your job to decide if you want to take the offer.

In many cases, it is not difficult to decide, if the offer is for a highly respected facility, and if the compensation meets your expectations.

The following are some considerations to help you decide:

  • Salary/ hourly wage and benefits
  • All other benefits in your total package
  • The reputation and professionalism of the ICU or hospital
  • Shifts/hours that are required
  • Opportunity for ongoing professional development, career advancement
  • Staff or HR support that will be available to you
  • The hospital leaders, physicians and crucially the charge nurses you will be working with

White Glove Placement can assist you in considering your acceptance for a Critical Care position. Accelerate career growth by connecting with a trusted WHITE GLOVE recruiter TODAY!


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