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Career as a Critical Care Nurse

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Who are Critical Care Nurses?

Critical Care Nurses are also called as ICU Nurses. They handle the severe cases and take care of the patients when the doctors are not around. These nurses are assigned with patients who went through a surgery or are frequently brought to the hospital in severe situations, these nurses help the doctors on the case. They are supposed to work in severe cases with intensive care and effective position. These nurses require specialized training.

What does a Critical Care Nurse do?

Critical Care Nurses are supposed to take care of the patients when the doctors aren't available in the coding situation. These nurses even take care of all the tests required for the patient who went through a severe injury or surgery. In the case of emergency situations these nurses are available before the doctors and prepare the patient before the doctor arrives pre- or post-surgery.

These nurses are specialized with a lot of techniques to keep the patient alive in the emergency situation in absence of the doctor. They keep the check of IV’s, monitors, blood pressure, urine color, and every other need of the patient.

This speciality cares for a broad range of patients including medical, surgical, neonatal, pediatric, neurology, cardiac, pulmonary, transplant and trauma, burn, etc.

They help the patients who require mechanical ventilation. They even help in diagnosing the patient by maintaining a good relationship with the patient.

Types of Critical Care Nurses:

Postoperative Care Unit Nurse: These nurses take care of the patients after the surgery and help them with pain medicines.

Pediatric ICU: These nurses work in pediatric units and take care of the severely ill children who are ill or injured.

Emergency Room:These nurses work with the patients who need immediate treatment. They do quick assessment and assign the patient to the respective doctors or the physician.

Neonatal ICU: These nurses work with the new born babies who suffer from disease or illness or who are in life threatening situations.

Cardiothoracic ICU: These nurses work with patients who went through a heart surgery or have any heart related problems.

Flight Nursing: These nurses work with patients who need to be transported to some other location by air. Tese nurses even escort the doctors who are transporting a working organ and help in taking care of it.

General ICU: They work with the general surgicals and help with pre and postoperative situations.

Surgical ICU: These nurses work with the surgeons to perform a surgery; they even know the few techniques and help passing the tools.

Neuro ICU: These nurses help a neuro surgeon in the operation theatre and whose patient might be suffering from a tumor,sleep, communication problem.

What is the work place of a Critical Care Nurse?

A Critical Care Nurse works in a Trauma care center and any hospital which provides surgery and intensive care procedure to a patient. These nurses either work inside the operation theatre or at the trauma center. A Critical Care Nurse can work in a hospital or a clinic depending upon their skills.

Skills and Abilities:

Empathy: is the capacity to understand or feel what other people are thinking.

Interpersonal Communication: they are supposed to have good interpersonal communication which helps in maintaining good relationships with the patients.

Decision Making: is the process of choosing alternatives based on the priorities, values and importance.

Critical Thinking: is the idea of thinking clearly and radically and understanding the logical connections between ideas.

Knowledge Areas that are needed to be acquired:

1. Information retrieval software and medical software: web based medical information used to find the results and to fill data of the patients for better understanding.

2. Traction Equipment: good handling power of the medical machines used for pain relieving and effective pain treatment.

3. Vascular Catheters: catheters are flexible tubes used in inserting them inside the organs for better medical or experimental values.

4. Imagining systems: good knowledge of the imaging systems like ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI, ECG, etc.


Bachelor's degree, Master's degree or any other professional diploma in Nursing.

Certification and/or Licensure: NCLEX-RN as well as Pediatric Advanced Life Support and/or Certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support

LPN and VPN programs

Associate Degree in Nursing

Job Outlook:

The salary will depend on the experience that has been given, for an experienced nurse the average salary is 230K to 300K.The actual salary will depend upon the geographical area you are working in.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q) What is it like to be a nurse?

Being a nurse requires a lot of patience, you don't get success in a year or two. You need to work in hospitals as a paid intern for a year or two then after being experienced you get to be a real nurse at hospitals. Being a nurse is not an easy job you have to work under other medical professionals who might degrade you but being a nurse, you have to be competitive and strong emotionally and physically.

Q) What can I do after BSc nursing?

Get a registration from council and be a nurse in hospital. Can also apply as a nurse in government hospitals. Can do post basic BSc or MSc in nursing and be a head nurse in India or abroad.

Q) What is the starting salary of a critical care nurse?

For being a nurse in India the starting salary is:

2L per annum

2.3L pa for 5-year experience

3L per annum for 10 years’ experience

4L pa for 15 years’ experience

6L pa for 20 + years’ experience.

Q) What is the difference between a nurse and a critical care nurse?

The difference is basically provided in the workplace the CCN works in the ICU or intensive care unit and with the patients for a longer period of time whereas the acute nurses work for a short amount of time with the patients. Typical medical conditions an acute care nurse may be called upon to treat range from severe injury and chronic illness, to strokes and infectious diseases. Acute care can also refer to the short-term and intensive care provided in emergency rooms and ICUs to patients after a heart attack or a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Q) Is it worth it to study nursing?

You will be able to take care of people and make a difference in their lives on a daily basis, and that's one of the most rewarding things you can do. The knowledge you gain is usable anywhere you go, which expands your career horizon significantly. You will be able to both teach patients how to better take care of themselves and you will also learn important life lessons from them and their families. You can become a chief nurse, coordinate people, and make sure patients receive proper treatment.

Q) Is being a critical nurse very competitive in India?

Being a critical care nurse is not very much competitive if you are at your pace in learning. All that has to be done is to be good at what you do. Being perfect in specialized technique is all that is needed with some motivation.

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