How Much Schooling Is Needed to Be an Intensive Care Unit Nurse?

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How  Much  Schooling  Is  Needed  to  Be  an  Intensive  Care  Unit  Nurse?

Intensive care unit (ICU) nurse is a registered nurse who takes care of the critically ill and injured people .ICU nursing work includes monitoring the life-sustaining devices and overseeing patient medications. Intensive care nurses can also be nurse practitioners (NP). The role of ICU nurses is to take care of the acutely ill patients for all ages. They work in intensive care units, critical care settings and burn centers.

An ICU nurse should have specialized training, knowledge and skills to provide care to critically ill patients. These nurses working in these specialized units take care of healthcare demands requiring close monitoring. They usually take care of one to three critical patients at a time in ICU.

Schooling Needs To Become an Intensive Care Unit Nurse

The first step to becoming an ICU nurse is to get a nursing education. The education to become an intensive care nurse can be an Associate’s or a bachelor’s degree to qualify as a registered nurse and apply for a license. Many degree programs offer an option to study coursework that teaches the students to work with an emergency, trauma as well as life support patients. These are some of the courses that make up the degree course.

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Psychology
  • Chemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Different social and behavioral sciences

The course might also include some liberal arts and various core subjects such as nursing ethics and mental health nursing. Some of the programs might have critical care focus yet others might offer supplemental certificates in critical care nursing. These programs usually may have courses including clinical nursing, health assessment, pharmacology, human responses and advanced care in illness.

Online Studies for Intensive Care Unit Nurse

There are some available options for online studying. More nursing schools now offer online education options. It is essential for students who want to pursue their nursing intensive care unit nurse schooling online to make sure that they choose a fully accredited program by one of the recognized bodies. The nurses need to gain some clinical experience that they can get from various settings in addition to the schooling .

A nursing student with an ambition to become a critical care nurse should try to perform many rotations as possible in ICUs of other such settings. They build up the experience and make the resume attractive to recruiters. A good nursing school helps the students to choose the type of environment where they can fit in.

Critical care nurse practitioner (NP) is another option to become an ICU nurse after earning a master’s degree. These degree programs usually provide advanced training in core subjects including:

  • Clinical assessment
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Patient management

Completing a nursing masters program prepares students for certification and advanced licensing. A nurse practitioner can diagnose medical problems, treat and prescribe some medications. This is an advanced role, unlike an RN position where a physician supervises and gives all the directions. Nurses do not have authority to prescribe medications. Besides, nurse practitioners should lead other nurses as their schooling and licensure place them a position where they can manage other nurses and medical staff.

Certification after Schooling to Be an Intensive Care Unit Nurse

All nurses must pass NCLEX-RN examination before they can practice as a registered nurse. They also need to get approval from other bodies regulating caregivers in critical care units. For example in the US, AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) issues Critical Care Nursing credentials for nurses intending to care for critically ill patients.

Certification might not always be a requirement, but a professional certificate demonstrates that a nurse can perform at the level of national standards. Eligibility for a certificate is only possible for nurses with a valid license and experience in working for critically ill patients. The candidate must also pass an examination that tests knowledge in critical care for a particular cluster of patients like geriatrics, adults, children or toddlers.

Nurses who choose the nurse practitioner path to work in ICU might need to acquire a certification from AACN through a Certification for Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. The qualification for this examination should complete an accredited Master's program together with 500 hours of clinical experience under supervision during schooling. Maintaining these certifications requires a nurse to engage in continuing education training.

Intensive care unit nurse should in addition to schooling have excellent skills in communication, organizing documentation working in high-pressure situations and long hours.