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Critical Care Nurse

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Bachelor's degree

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What They Do

About This Career

Provides specialized nursing care for patients in critical or coronary care units.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Evaluates patients' vital signs or laboratory data to determine emergency intervention needs.
  • Monitors patients for changes in status and indications of conditions such as sepsis or shock and institutes appropriate interventions.
  • Administers medications intravenously, by injection, orally, through gastric tubes, or by other methods.
  • Monitors patients' fluid intake and output to detect emerging problems, such as fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Prioritizes nursing care for assigned critically ill patients, based on assessment data or identified needs.
  • Compiles and analyzes data obtained from monitoring or diagnostic tests.
  • Conducts pulmonary assessments to identify abnormal respiratory patterns or breathing sounds that indicate problems.
  • Assesses patients' pain levels or sedation requirements.
  • Collaborates with other health care professionals to develop and revise treatment plans, based on identified needs and assessment data.
  • Documents patients' medical histories and assessment findings.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Nurse
  • Newborn ICU RN (Newborn Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse)
  • Critical Care Nurse Practitioner
  • ICU Critical Care NP (Intensive Care Unit Critical Care Nurse Practitioner)
  • Certified Critical Care Nurse
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
  • Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse (ICU RN)
  • Staff Nurse
  • Pediatric Critical Care Nurse Practitioner
  • ICU Nurse (Intensive Care Unit Nurse)


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


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