find nursing schools

Select a degree level

Particularly in the field


  • Matching School Ad
    Kaplan University - KHE

    MS in Nursing

  • Matching School Ad
    Medical Careers Institute

    RN to BSN

  • Matching School Ad
    Fortis Institute

    Medical Assistant

Critical Care Nurse

A critical care nurse is responsible for providing health and nursing care to critically ill patients. Their work environment generally include critical care units at hospitals and clinical settings, such as adult intensive care units, neonatal ICU, trauma units, cardiac ICU, etc. A critical care nurse has to deal with patients who are in acute, unstable conditions and require constant monitoring. Therefore, the vigilance of these nurses can literally make the difference between life and death.

They have to perform complex assessments, therapy and intervention, and advocate on behalf of their patients. They administer treatments advised by physicians, and also have to be very alert about patients’ conditions and respond appropriately to any signs of deterioration in patients’ conditions.

It is important for critical care nurses to be familiar with the use of state-of-the-art medical devices and technology used to assist in life support functions, including cardiac monitoring systems, life support systems, mechanical ventilator therapy, continuous renal replacement equipment, etc.


• Requirements for becoming a Critical Care Nurse:

The job of a critical care nurse is very challenging, and so are the educational and experience requirements for them. The first step is getting an associate or bachelors degree in nursing, followed by obtaining a licensure to work as an RN. After gaining some experience in specialty areas, such as critical care or high-risk cardiology, the nurse has to earn an advanced-level degree, typically master’s level nursing degree, which is expected of candidates of critical care nursing. Thereby, nurses can gain experience in a hospital-run training program specializing in critical care.

Many nurses choose to obtain further certification in critical care nursing through organizations like the American Association of Critical Care Nurses or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Requirements for being eligible for the certification include a nursing degree, a valid RN license, at least 500 clinical hours of supervised acute care work experience (or minimum of 2 years), and a set number of hours in critical care continued education.


• Salary and Job Prospects

Critical care nursing is a specialty for which there is a lot of demand, indicating a very positive job outlook for this area of nursing. Because of the shortage of nurses in specialized disciplines such as critical care, compensation packages offered by most employers are also very lucrative, and include signing bonuses, housing allowances, relocation bonuses, etc. besides a higher pay scale.

The annual median salary for critical care nurses is usually in the higher range of about $70,000, though it varies depending on the state, organization and the credentials and experience of the candidate.

Matching School Ads