Expanding Your Skillset with ICU Certifications

Patients in the intensive care unit require meticulous, specialized care. These individuals are often intubated, ventilated, and on a variety of medications because they have experienced life-threatening illnesses or injuries from incidents such as car accidents or gun shots. Critical care patients rely on a highly trained care team to provide 24-hour monitoring and care. Critical care teams are comprised of physicians, clinician pharmacists, respiratory therapists, dieticians, nurses, and nursing assistants.

Registered nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) can have a variety of titles. Many ICU nurses choose to obtain additional certifications related to critical care to help advance their careers. ICU nurse jobs may be listed as CCRN, which stands for Critical Care Registered Nurse. Nurses can earn a CCRN certification through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Types of ICU Nurses

  • Cardiac Care ICU Nurse – Nurses working on this unit tend to the most critically ill patients. The name of the unit where they’d work is known as the Cardiac/Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, referred to as CICU or CVICU.
  • Cardiothoracic ICU Nurse – Nurses provide care to patients that are living with severe heart conditions, and those who are recovering from a complex surgery, such as open-heart surgery.
  • Neonatal ICU Nurse – NICU Nurses work with newborn babies who are facing critical conditions, such as life-threatening infections or congenital disabilities.
  • Pediatric ICU Nurse – These nurses provide care to critically ill or injured children.

Types of ICUs

Depending on their size, some hospitals may divide their ICUs into specialized units, such as:

  • CICU – Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
  • CVICU – Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit
  • MICU – Medical Intensive Care Unit
  • NICU – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • PICU – Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • SICU – Surgical Intensive Care Unit

ICU Nurse Responsibilities
Critical care nurses are responsible for providing top-of-the-line care to patients with high acuity levels and a variety of complexities. ICU nurses must be assertive, analytical, and extremely detail oriented. ICU nurses typically work 12-hour shifts and are responsible for caring for one or two patients. They must also possess excellent communication, empathy, and interpersonal skills, as they often are communicating with a patient’s family members or loved ones.

Critical Care nurse responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Administering sedation
  • Performing diagnostic tests
  • Being proficient in telemetry (utilizing a portable device to monitor patient vitals – particularly their heart activity, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation).
  • Identifying sudden or subtle changes in a patient’s condition
  • Responding to medical emergencies and alerting members of the care team

Hospitals typically require these basics for nurses:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Completion of a Trauma Nursing Care Course (TNCC)

Sharpen Your ICU Nurse Skills: Continuing Education

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACCN) offers a variety of continued learning courses for ICU nurses, including their Essentials of Critical Care Self-Study Options. These courses start at $60 and provide education on how to care for patients with specific disorders, such as those with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, hematological, and neurological disorders.

Additionally, AACCN offers a selection of critical care certifications, including five specialty areas for RNs, two sub-specialty certifications and two advanced practice certifications.

If you’re looking into obtaining a critical certification for the first time, AACCN sets you up for success by providing tools and handbooks that include practice questions, practice exams, and more.

Registered nurses can acquire free Continuing Education (CE) credits to help them feel confident in providing optimal care to specific patient populations.

If you’re a critical care nurse who is looking for a travel nursing opportunity, we encourage you to check out our Job Board.

LeaderStat has been a trusted staffing partner by healthcare organizations across the country for over 22 years. As a Joint Commission accredited staffing firm, we are committed to supporting registered nurses as they work to provide excellent care and pursue their career goals.

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