Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

Do you have what it takes to be a critical care nurse?

The move toward value based care in the U.S. health system is increasing the importance of the nursing role in health care. At the same time, these roles are also on the rise. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, demand for registered nurses is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, a rate that is much higher than the average across all industries. The combination of increased responsibility and high demand makes now a great time to consider the direction of your nursing career.

One critical role in particular that needs highly-qualified professionals is in critical care. However, the intensity and pressure of critical care isn’t right for every nurse. Would one of these high-pressure positions be a good fit for your nursing career?

What is a critical care nurse?

A critical care nurse is responsible for responding to life-threatening conditions in patients. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses further adds that these professionals are additionally responsible for not just responding, but for actively ensuring that optimal care is given to critically and acutely ill patients, as well as their families. Responsibilities include supporting patients or their advocates in decision-making, providing support and education, monitor the patient’s quality of care and intervene if the patient’s best interest is at risk.

While a high number of these nurses work in hospital settings, they can also be found in home care, outpatient centers, managed care organizations and other less-traditional settings. It’s a specialized segment of the nursing field that will allow you to work in almost any city across the country.

Success in critical care
If you’re considering a career in critical care, there are certain traits that could indicate that the role might be a good fit. Do you work well under pressure? Are you able to respond quickly and calmly to time-sensitive. high-risk situations? Do you have the exemplary communication skills that you’ll need to act as a liaison between patients, family members and health care team members? These abilities will help you to succeed in this high-pressure segment of the nursing field.

Some people may be born for a role in critical care. But that doesn’t mean that these skills and abilities can’t be developed. While earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree will prepare you for many of the situations that you’ll face in this job, typically hospitals or other health organizations handle the majority of training in-house.

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Interested in a leadership role in critical care? Consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Advanced practice nursing positions typically require at least a master’s degree. In this particular field, those roles would typically be either a acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) and clinical nurse specialist (CNS). If the idea of climbing the ladder in critical care is appealing to you, enrolling in an RN to MSN degree online could be the right next step in your professional career.


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