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Critical Care Nurses Career

Career Description

Provide advanced nursing care for patients in critical or coronary care units.

What Job Titles Critical Care Nurses Might Have

  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
  • Intensive Care Unit Nurse
  • Registered Nurse Supervisor (RN Supervisor)
  • Staff Nurse

What Critical Care Nurses Do

  • Evaluate patients' vital signs or laboratory data to determine emergency intervention needs.
  • Monitor patients for changes in status and indications of conditions such as sepsis or shock and institute appropriate interventions.
  • Set up and monitor medical equipment and devices such as cardiac monitors, mechanical ventilators and alarms, oxygen delivery devices, transducers, or pressure lines.
  • Administer medications intravenously, by injection, orally, through gastric tubes, or by other methods.
  • Assess patients' pain levels or sedation requirements.
  • Conduct pulmonary assessments to identify abnormal respiratory patterns or breathing sounds that indicate problems.
  • Monitor patients' fluid intake and output to detect emerging problems such as fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Document patients' medical histories and assessment findings.
  • Prioritize nursing care for assigned critically ill patients, based on assessment data or identified needs.
  • Compile and analyze data obtained from monitoring or diagnostic tests.
  • Administer blood and blood products, monitoring patients for signs and symptoms related to transfusion reactions.
  • Assist physicians with procedures such as bronchoscopy, endoscopy, endotracheal intubation, or elective cardioversion.
  • Collaborate with other health care professionals to develop and revise treatment plans based on identified needs and assessment data.
  • Collect specimens for laboratory tests.
  • Document patients' treatment plans, interventions, outcomes, or plan revisions.
  • Identify malfunctioning equipment or devices.
  • Advocate for patients' and families' needs, or provide emotional support for patients and their families.
  • Perform approved therapeutic or diagnostic procedures based upon patients' clinical status.
  • Identify patients who are at risk of complications due to nutritional status.
  • Assess patients' psychosocial status and needs, including areas such as sleep patterns, anxiety, grief, anger, and support systems.
  • Assess family adaptation levels and coping skills to determine whether intervention is needed.
  • Ensure that equipment or devices are properly stored after use.
  • Coordinate patient care conferences.
  • Identify patients' age-specific needs and alter care plans as necessary to meet those needs.
  • Supervise and monitor unit nursing staff.
  • Participate in professional organizations and continuing education to improve practice knowledge and skills.
  • Participate in the development, review, or evaluation of nursing practice protocols.
  • Plan, provide, or evaluate educational programs for nursing staff, interdisciplinary health care team members, or community members.
  • Provide post-mortem care.

What Critical Care Nurses Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.

What Critical Care Nurses Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

What Critical Care Nurses Need to Learn

  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Median Salary: $68,450

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.