Intensive Care Unit Nurse

Also known as critical care nurses, intensive care unit nurses treat patients who require close monitoring and immediate response to needs. Patients of these nurses suffer from acute or complicated illnesses or injuries, requiring more specified treatment. Some intensive care unit nurses specialize in coronary units with a focus on extremely ill heart patients.

The emotional component may be more extreme for this type of nurse compared to other nursing professionals. Intensive care nurses work with patients and their families on both a physical and emotional level due to the serious nature of their patients’ conditions.

An intensive care unit nurse may be required to perform any of the following duties:

  • Set up and monitor medical equipment including cardiac monitors, ventilators and oxygen delivery systems.
  • Administer medication through a variety of methods such as orally, intravenously or gastric tube insertion.
  • Evaluate pain levels and sedation needs of patients.
  • Determine emergency intervention needs in a crisis.
  • Prioritize the care of critically ill patients.
  • Provide emotional support for patients and their families.
  • Perform respiratory assessments.
  • Administer blood and monitor patients for transfusion reactions.
  • Maintain detailed and appropriate patient records.

Intensive Care Unit Nurse Degrees

Most intensive care unit nurses are registered nurses (RN). An associates or a bachelor’s degree in nursing is commonly held by these professionals. There are also master’s degrees in nursing available which may prove valuable for leadership and/or salary advancements.

In all states, a nursing candidate must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to be a licensed nurse. In many instances, intensive care unit nurses are also required to hold certification established by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. For some RNs, continuing education credits are required.

Intensive Care Unit Nurse Salary*

The median annual salary for registered nurses in 2008 was $62,450, as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This profession is expected to grow by 22%, according to the BLS.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics



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