Nursing Stress: How to Relieve That On-the-Job Stress

As a nurse, you know stress! Nursing stress can take a toll on your profession. Learn four ways scientifically proven ways to help destress.ICU nurses work extremely hard, and often in high-stress situations. Nursing stress can get in the way of your effectiveness as a nurse. The key to maintaining a high level of effectiveness in the critical care units is to take the time to recharge and refocus your energies, making you a better all-around nurse.

The New Year is a great time to reevaluate your self-care routine and de-stress; from a relaxing long weekend to your newest personal goals, there’s nothing like a self-care resolution to get you back to being focused and being the best critical care nurse you can be.

Here are four new ideas for what you can do to help you relax, recharge and be a better ICU nurse in 2017.

Four Ways Nurses Can Destress

  • Exercise

A regular exercise routine will boost your body’s natural stress buffers by increasing the levels of norepinephrine in your brain in the areas of your brain that helps handle and cope with stress.

Plus, it also helps you blow off the proverbial steam and release tension in your muscles.

  • Set Boundaries

Don’t bring the mental load of the hospital home with you or any of the other external factors from the life of an ICU nurse.

Develop your home to be a peaceful sanctuary. Defend it at all costs.

Your long-term mental health will be better for it.

  • Set up Good Self-care Rituals

The start of a year is a wonderful time to release old habits and begin new and ones. During your time away from the hospital, try to take the time to be alone, read a book, get a massage, or just sit quietly.

Your long-term effectiveness will improve, and you’ll be a much better nurse to your patients.

  • Develop a Hobby

Finding time to do something you enjoy is an excellent practice for your long-term stress levels.  In fact, the creative nature of a hobby has been proven to increase productivity at work.

To develop a new hobby, think about your current interests, where you’re skilled, and what brings you happiness.

Don’t confine yourself to a box.  Be free to explore your new interests.

Combat Nursing Stress with Effective Self-Care

Remember, you don’t have to live with stress. As a nurse, learn how you can cope with nursing stress. #icunursingcareersRemember, you don’t have to live with stress. In fact, not only is stress unpleasant, but it is unhealthy.

Keep trying these proven techniques until you find a combination that works for you.

Make this year a year of self-care.

Develop your new routine and break-in new habits that will help you become the best critical care nursing professional possible.

To learn more about ICU nursing careers, visit our careers page.

Looking for ICU Nurse Salary by Region?

ICU nurse salaries can vary from region to region. View ICU nurse salary by region and decide the best career path to take. Everything you need to know.

The top pitches health care corporations use to gather new talent is by the variations in ICU nurse salary.

Salaries by region vary depending on the cost of living, location, local school system, among other factors.

Jump to your region:

Nationally, ICU Nurse Salaries Range From $55,000-$83,671

Nationally the average yearly ICU nurse salary ranges from $55,000-$83,671 according to job websites like,, and

The field of critical care nurses should expect a boom of growth between now and 2020 of approximately 26%, which is considered to be much higher than the average rate of growth for most other positions across the country.

When considering average salaries please be aware that every facility is different. Some will pay more or less, some facilities may have more fringe benefits (i.e. retirement options, school reimbursement, tenure bonuses), and regionally everything changes based on the standard of living standards.  So when analyzing these averages, just know that they are truly just averages.

Back to top


The average ICU nurse salary in the Northeast is $64,860 per year.

In the Northeast, Critical Care nurses are handsomely rewarded for working in the ICU.

This is the highest average salary for an ICU by region. The highest paying area is in Washington D.C., where the ICU nurses average salaries at $80,000 per year.

Back to top


ICU nurse salaries by region: Southeast United StatesThe average ICU nurse salary in this region is $62,666.

The Southeast is the 2nd best paying region of the country on average for Critical Care nurses.

The state that pays the best in this region is Georgia with average salaries at $73,000.  With some of the best paying jobs in the state being located in Atlanta, this is no surprise.

Back to top


ICU nurse salaries by region: Midwest United StatesWith the average yearly salary of $59,910 the Midwest, ICU nurses in the Midwest can expect a nice paycheck.

The Midwest is the 3rd best paying region in the country for ICU nurses.

While the majority of the states were right around the average amount per year for salaries, there is one outlier:  Illinois – specifically the Chicago area – pays its ICU nurses the best on average coming in at $72,000 per year.

Back to top


ICU nurse salaries by region: Southwest United StatesWhile the average annual ICU nurse salary for in this region is $58,000, it really depends on what state you live in. 

The Southwest region of the country has the largest variance in pay in the nation.

ICU nurses in California make on average $68,000 per year.

Back to top


The best-paying state in this region was Washington where their ICU nurses average $65,000 per year.

ICU nurse salaries by region: Northwest United StatesBy averaging the 8 states in the Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming), the average ICU nurse salary is $53,750 per year.

These salaries are in direct correlation with the standard of living expenses around the region.  The less the population in the area, the less amount of funding for facilities located there.

Back to top

Choosing To Advance Your Nursing Career (And Education)

Choosing To Advance Your Nursing Career: everything you need to know about making the move. #icunursingcareersAs you can see becoming an ICU nurse can be quite a lucrative career choice.

With a minimum requirement to attain one of these positions is an Associate’s in Nursing or a Diploma in Nursing, a Bachelor’s in Nursing or a Master’s in Nursing is preferred.

Attaining a position in critical care is a great move both professionally and for the paycheck.

Back to top


  • (n.d.). Critical Care Nurse Careers & Salary Outlook. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from
  • (n.d.). Critical Care Nurse- United States. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from care nurse&l=United States&sort=date
  • (n.d.). Critical Nurse Jobs- United States. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from care nurse&location=United States
  • (n.d.). Critical Care Nurse Jobs in the United States. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from care nurse&l=United States

Thinking of becoming a registered nurse? Here is a look into registered nurse duties on a typical day. What you need to know about this rewarding career.Daily Registered Nurse Duties

For many nurses, their patients are on their minds from the moment they put on their uniforms and head out to work at a hospital, doctor’s office or clinic. Registered nurse duties may differ from nurse to nurse and facility to facility.

While some start the day in the morning, arriving early to help at a practice with health care and sick visits, others may work the night shifts at a hospital where they keep tabs on patients while their day shift counterpart’s sleep.

Registered Nurse Duties: at a Clinic or Private Practice

Nurses starting their day at a clinic may get there even before the doctor to help set up.

This may include pulling charts, getting exam rooms ready, booting up computers and checking to make sure the practice is running smoothly.

Registered Nurse Duties: At a Hospital

Meanwhile, nurses in a hospital may be dealing with critical situations that require even more of their health care expertise.

In this case, they can have a handful or so of patients assigned to them for whom they are responsible.

After helping to admit patients to the unit, nurses must ensure the hygiene of patients is tended to, their nutritional intake is sufficient and they are receiving their medications just as the doctor has prescribed.

During the shift, the nurse may be the one to whom the patient first reaches out to when in pain or having a problem arising from the medication or their condition.

Concerned about their patients, unit nurses may scarf down their lunch in a mere 15 minutes or so, thinking about what must be prioritized next.

One minute the ward nurse may be conversing with patients or their families, the next minute with the doctor.

Registered Nurse Duties When the Doctor is not Present

When the doctor is elsewhere, it is often up to nurses to accompany physicians on their rounds and to help clarify for the family the current status of the patients.

They must also be on top of the various medications they give to patients to help ensure that one specialist has not inadvertently duplicated something another has already prescribed.

Smiling Nurse With Digital Tablet Talks To Female Patient In Hospital BedThere are even instances when nurses must make decisions about medication dosages.

Before the day is over, the nurse must prepare a report to update the next shift about all that has been done for each patient.

As nurses finally head home, their minds often track back to their patients, hoping they have made a real difference for them and tomorrow they will be feeling that much better as a result.

An Increase in Demand for Quality Nurses

Nurse doing her daily tasks in a hospital It’s no secret that as the U.S. population ages, demand for quality nurses will increase.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that registered nurse employment would rise 19% from 2012 to 2022.

Individuals passionate about the profession and eager to build successful careers should pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

The bachelor’s degree not only offers a sound career foundation but is a requirement for masters programs.



The ACA and nursing: the Affordable Care Act greatly impacted all facets of American healthcare, and nursing was no exception. Everything you need to know.A Turning Point in American History

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Passed by President Barack Obama in 2010 is much more than a piece of legislature. It is more than a formality, it is more than words on paper. This act marked a turning point in American history and brought real change to the healthcare industry along with tangible consequences. Though millions felt the changes brought by the ACA, nurses were especially affected by it in a variety of ways. Many industries were impacted by the ACA and nursing was no different.

Opposing Views

Reports on the impact of the Affordable Care Act in the nursing industry have come in roughly six years after the bill was signed into law.

Some reports show positive outcomes such as job growth in the field, while others paint a bleaker picture.

Many believe the ACA has resulted in larger patient loads for nurses, which decreases the quality of care. Leaving personal opinion aside, it is unarguable that the ACA has brought about changes in the field.

Demand for Registered Nurses

Among the many outcomes the ACA will bring about, demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) is of the most prominent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that the demand for RNs will increase by 26% in 10 years, which equates to about 3.5 million nursing jobs by 2020.

It is important to note, however, that this increase is not solely brought about by the ACA.

The ACA and Nursing: How Will It Affect Nurses?

The Affordable Care Act will be extremely impactful. The ACA gave millions of previously uninsured people some level of health coverage, but this doesn’t mean more ER or hospital visits.

The rise in insured people means more nonemergency procedures, preventive care, visits to doctor’s offices and things of that nature.

Because of this very reason, the demand for RNs will be found in outpatient settings such as physician’s offices and home health care.

The ACA and Nursing: A Need for Higher Education

The ACA will also affect the skills nurses need to develop in order to succeed and grow in the work environment.

Nurses will serve as care coordinators, case managers, and critical care specialist, among many others and though they can gain knowledge and skills through on-the-job training, having a higher education is invaluable.

The ACA and Nursing: the ACA brought new demand for nurses to gain higher education. What you need to know. #icunursingcareersWhen applying for jobs, RNs with specialized degrees will be at an advantage and have more chances of landing their dream job.

Obama’s Affordable Care Act took the healthcare industry by storm, and nurses, just like all others healthcare professionals are noticing its effects.

Higher education from prestigious schools will put any RN in a better professional position.

Learn more about education options and career opportunities.

Considering accepting an offer for a NICU internship? Read about a day in the life of a NICU intern from her daily encounters to making difficult decisions.The day that I found out I received a NICU internship at a local hospital, I was ecstatic.

As a student majoring in Family and Child Sciences and Psychology, the opportunity to be in a NICU, helping families to cope with their experience, was exhilarating.

I couldn’t wait to get in there and talk to families in crisis, work amongst nurses, and help families to heal.

What I didn’t realize was how difficult it would be.

Teaching “COPE” to Parents

During my NICU internship, I was responsible for implementing a program called “COPE”, which stands for Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment.

This theory behind this program is to provide parents in the NICU with information on:

  • What to expect when you have a baby in the NICU
  • What to expect in a NICU setting
  • At home care for a NICU baby
  • Appreciating small milestones

The program was literature based, meaning, I would provide families with information packets and take pictures of them with their babies during each new milestone.

The program emphasized the importance of celebrating any and all progress. For many families, their time in the NICU can last for months.

This can be really discouraging when your baby is so far away from being healthy.

By focusing on taking small steps and taking matters one day at a time, it helps to appreciate even the little victories.

The ICU COPE Outcome

The program didn’t really have as much of an impact as I had hoped.

People weren’t really interested in reading pamphlets or taking pictures next to an incubator.

In the NICU, families can easily get overwhelmed by things such as:

  • Nurses and doctors coming in and out of their rooms
  • Medical terminology that they are unfamiliar with
  • Tracking every progression and setback their baby makes
  • The stress of the unknown and if/when they can bring their baby home

All of these things are on top of trying to treasure what limited time they have to spend with their baby.

As you can probably imagine, the last thing they want was a really excited intern on a mission to save the world, handing them an educational pamphlet. I get it.

So this begged a new question: If this program, specifically designed to help vulnerable families in the NICU, isn’t really working, what will?

Bonding with Your NICU Parents

The relationship that nurses build with parents is incredible. Not only are the lives of their children in nurses’ hands, but many times these nurses are teaching parents how to be a parent.

Family With New Born Baby In Post Natal DepartmentEven if they already have children, being a parent to a baby in a NICU is a completely different experience.

From feeding techniques to changing microscopic diapers, to learn what is just a hiccup and when to get help, nurses are right there, patiently teaching and serving.

While I am not suggesting that nurses pursue an additional degree in counseling, I think that they are in a unique position where a referral to seek counseling would be very powerful.

The Great Divide in Health

There seems to be a big divide between physical health and mental health.

There seems to be a big divide between physical health and mental health. Learn how a NICU internship helped a nursing student. #icunursingcareersFor some reason, we let our physical health take precedence and priority to our mental health.

Many of us view the two as separate entities but fail to realize how intertwined the two really are.

When merging that mentality in a hospital setting, it helps to portray the idea that both are important and both need to be taken care of.

By teaching medical professionals how to spot basic signs of psychological distress, they can help to coach patients and families on when and how to seek mental health counseling.

How Hospitals Can Help

Hospitals (especially intensive care units), need to have someone dedicated full-time to helping patients and families cope with the stress of an extended hospital stay.

Having a trained expert available to talk to families and patients going through hardships is important to help families overcome adversity and grow stronger.

Hospital stays can put a lot of stress on families and have someone on-call to talk to would be very beneficial.

Concluding my NICU Internship

So while the COPE program was a step in the right direction, I feel that the needs of the NICU have been somewhat overlooked for quite some time.

Learn how a NICU internship can help you further in your career. #icunursingcareersKnowing that having a baby in the NICU makes mothers twice as likely to have post-partum depression and hospitals are truly missing a big opportunity to intervene and provide the help they know parents need.

While I didn’t get to make the impact I was hoping for in my NICU internship, my efforts won’t stop there.

My goal is to shed some light on this issue in hopes that others will see it as a priority too and encourage healthy families from the very beginning.

It’s all thanks to my time spent at my NICU internship. Let’s help to make sure that each family starts off on the same foot.

Looking to further your education? Visit our BSN programs page.

Thinking about switching careers? Learn everything you need to know about the highest paying nursing jobs and earning locations.Highest Paying Nursing Jobs and Their Locations

Nursing is a calling and it’s the rare person who enters the profession based solely on salary. That said, nursing can pay well, particularly in certain specialties, hard-to-fill positions, and managerial positions. We’ll take a look at the highest paying nursing jobs.

A chief nurse anesthetist may draw a salary well over $180,000, a director of nursing more than $130,000.

Even some registered nurses, typically in or near large cities, may earn over $100,000, although the mean annual income nationally for this position is $71,000.

Where Salaries Might be Highest

Pay can depend on geography, the size and resources of a hospital or other healthcare facility and the duties of the job. Hospitals and clinics in states with higher costs of living tend to offer the highest salaries.

They include Massachusetts, Alaska, Hawaii, and California.

The five cities with the highest median salaries for registered nursing are all in northern California with San Francisco at the top of the list and nearby Vallejo and Oakland not far behind.

Mean salaries in these two areas are upwards of $124,000.

But job seekers can also find strong salaries in non-metropolitan areas, including California’s Sierra mountain region and central farming valley, the border area of Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska.

The mean income in these regions ranges from more than $80,000 to over $100,000.

Where Salaries Might Be Lower

Areas paying lower salaries may offer a lower cost of living. The end effect: The smaller paycheck may enable a nurse to have a similar quality of life to what someone earning more could enjoy.

As with any profession, it is important for job seekers to evaluate whether the job and employer are a good match for their temperament and work style.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks salaries, along with a number of websites focused on the nursing industry. Below you’ll find how the government agency and some of these other top outlets rank salaries for nurses with various levels of education:

Registered Nurses

According to BLS, being a registered nurse is one of the highest paying nursing jobs.

Mean pay: $71,000 ($34.14 per hour)

Best Paying Registered Nurse Job Opportunities

According to, these are the highest paying registered nurse jobs.

  • Dialysis registered nurse in a dialysis center, hospital or other medical facilities.

Average pay: $100,000

  • Registered nurse is highest paying nursing jobs. Learn if this is the right career path for you. #icunursingcareersPost-anesthetic care unit registered nurse in hospitals, surgical centers, and dental offices.

Average pay: $84,000

  • Oncology registered nurses in a hospital or private physicians’ offices.

Average pay: $83,000

  • Neonatal Intensive Care United Registered Nurses at a hospital.

Average pay: $83,000

  • Travel Registered Nurse at Cruise lines or companies.

Average pay: $66,000

Nurse Practitioners

According to BLS, being a nurse practitioner is one of the highest paying nursing jobs.

Mean pay: $97,990 ($47.11 per hour)

Best Paying Nurse Practitioner Job Opportunities

According to, these are the highest paying nurse practitioner jobs.

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in surgical settings, dental offices, hospitals, and other medical facilities.

Average pay: $100,000

  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at mental health clinics, hospitals, and facilities:

Average pay: $95,000

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at hospitals.

Average pay: $92,000

  • Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other healthcare facilities.

Average pay: $80,000

  • Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other healthcare facilities.

Average pay: $80,000

Visit our careers page for more information.

Critical care nursing is in high demand in today's nursing industry. Interested in this career path? Learn if this is the right career for you.The Evolving Role of Critical Care Nursing

Critical care nursing has evolved to mean many things in healthcare. There are specializations available now that were not available in the past that allow nurses to put a fine point on patient’s needs and healthcare goals.

The very first nurses who were considered or specialized in acute or critical care nursing were neonatal nurses. The environment they were in required them to respond quickly to their patient’s needs.

Their patients were limited in their communication and the responses time to challenges often meant the difference between life and death.

Related Reading: What is a Critical Care Nurse and What Does it Take to Become One?

The Rise of Acute Care Nursing

Acute care nurses are in high demand and are rising in the nursing field. The acute care nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) who has expanded on their education to include working with patients in a short term capacity.

These nurses assist patients with immediate issues and help to temporarily relieve symptoms based on severity. There is a rising need for a nurse that can address these types of urgent medical concerns.

RN’s are trained to respond to trauma, but an acute nurse is trained to respond to crucial and serious challenges on a consistent basis.

As noted in the living and ever changing document of acute nurse definitions, the AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) Scope and Standards for Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Practice, without an acute nurse, patients can suffer.

They state:

“Patient needs are also unmet when care is limited to specialty treatment of an acute illness, with neglect of attention to comorbidities and chronic health conditions, or the recognition and minimization of physiologic, psychologic, and iatrogenic risks.”

Without these nurses, overall patients care could dwindle. The acute nurse is trained to handle the details in a chaotic situation with consistency and thoughtful care. 

When a patient is sent to long term care or through a more comprehensive recovery plan, they can do so with confidence knowing that their initial care has been attended to with care.

Establishing the Standards for Critical Care Nursing

Acute nursing requires a methodical eye that can react instantly. The work environment can be frantic and fast paced. Patients who require assistance from an acute nurse are in a situation where a hasty response is not desired but required.

Find out what the standards are for critical care nursing. #icunursingcareersThere is a common misconception that the newly formed position of the acute nurse is best utilized in an emergency room setting.

However, there are many areas in health care that need an acute nurse and her unique set of skills.

For example, heart patients in recovery may need a nurse with a wide base of knowledge and ability to respond swiftly.

The RN that chooses to go into acute nursing will never be bored and will have an infinite number of opportunities to excel in their field.

The job satisfaction from being an acute nurse can come from not only patient satisfaction but also from the nurse’s ability to help many people in just one shift. The training to help acute nurses is just as immediate and exciting.

Critical Care Nurses and the State Board

While the state boards for nursing are pretty much standard, they do not all have a national standard. There is some discrepancy is what kind of experience and education combination can help to establish a working RN to an RN that specializes in acute nursing.

However, in order to ensure safety, the ACNP suggests that “Certification, although not required in all states, should reflect the population of patients for which the nurse practitioner has been trained and is an expected portion of the candidate’s portfolio.

It seems inevitable that certification will be a national standard sooner rather than later.

Which School is Right for Me?

Find out what you need to know about critical care nursing and what schools are right for you. #icunursingcareersIn order to avoid confusion in the future, it is essential that a nurse interested in this area of expertise research into the type of school they need to obtain the right education.

Their decision should be based on a few things but mainly how well the program will build on their already obtained RN education. There are options in regards to the delivery system of the program.

Many of these programs have clinical experience built into the program and case studies that help assist in how educating on the role as a whole.

They can be a quick and informative program, but make sure to check accreditations and your own state’s regulations regarding acute nursing.

Proper training and experience allow the acute nurse to raise the bar on patient care –a goal desired by all in healthcare today.

The Source of Confusion: Nursing Certifications vs. Certificates

The terms nursing certificates and nursing certifications sound similar. Learn everything you need to know about the difference between the two.The terms nursing certificates and nursing certifications sound extremely similar, which causes a lot of confusion.

People often confuse the two and use them interchangeably, which is a big mistake.

Though they might sound similar and do, in fact, share a lot of commonalities, it is important to draw a clear distinction between them.

Let’s take a look at the difference in nursing certificates and certifications.


In order to truly understand the difference between having a nursing certificate and nursing certifications, it’s important to have a clear definition of what each is.

Here are the definitions as provided by Merriam-Webster.

  • Certificate: A document that is official proof that something has happened. A document that is official proof that you have finished school or a course of training.
  • Certification: The act of making something official. Official approval to do something professionally or legally.

Characteristics of a Certificate

  • Suitable for people new to the field with no prior experience in whatever the certificate is for
  • Suitable for seasoned professionals in the field looking to advance their careers
  • It is non-degree granting
  • Awarded by an educational program
  • Serves as a gateway for achieving a degree in the future
  • Narrow and specific content
  • Requires re-certification every given number of years to ensure candidates stay current and up-to-date in the field they earned their certificate in
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a specific area at the end of a period of time

Characteristics of a Certification

  • Requires some professional experience prior
  • Degree granting
  • Awarded by a third party organization that sets the standards
  • Indicates mastery or completion usually through an application or exam
  • Content is broader in scope
  • Allows candidates to put letters after their name (CPP, CCRN, CPA, etc.)

Choosing Between a Certification or Certificate

Nurse receives her certification

Both certificates and certifications are great tools to advance your education and career.

When researching how to advance your professional career, learning the difference between these two terms.

It will help you make the right choice for you, the choice that will best fit and benefit your life goals.

Read why this nurse decided to go back to school for her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Learn the facts about being critical care nurse, and what it really means to be a nurse working in an intensive care unit. Is this the career path for you?The History of Critical Care Nursing

Nursing is a career that can be ever evolving. As the needs of patients change and grow, so does the need for roles like the critical care nurse. Take a moment and think about the facilities that house nurses in the environment of healthcare today.

Hospitals and treatment centers now deal with emergency situations daily – sometimes to beyond full capacity.

Walk in Centers were originally designed to be a quick stop for very general and basic health needs.

However, they are slowly becoming smaller versions of emergency rooms.

While not ideal, they are dealing with every type of situation that a fully functioning emergency room would need to address.

The patient’s nurses are seeing in all of these environments is changing.

Related Reading: Critical Care Nursing: How the Role Continues to Evolve

The Critical Care Nurse Sees Patients That Need Immediate Help

Many of these patients are not coming in for the common cold, but rather can be experiencing very real and frightening situations that need to be addressed immediately.

These patients have life threatening issues and are usually in a life or death situation.

Based on this developing overall need, the role of the nurse is evolving as well.

While there is always a need for several types of nurses in all aspects of healthcare, there is a newly emerging need in healthcare organizations specifically for critical care nurses.

These nurses build and expand on their education to help assist and address patients who are in need of immediate assistance.

What Is A Critical Care Nurse?

According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the profession is defined as:

“Critical care nursing is that specialty within nursing that deals specifically with human responses to life-threatening problems. A critical care nurse is a licensed professional nurse who is responsible for ensuring that acutely and critically ill patients and their families receive optimal care.”

Nurses choosing to go into critical care can work in many areas of a facility and have several opportunities available to them. They harness their skills to make them both accessible and easily available to help patients in need.

As the wars of disease and trauma ravage patients, the role of the critical care nurse acts as the sergeant at arms helping to fight the battle.

What Does It Take To Be A Critical Care Nurse?

A critical care nurse starts out with the basic skills all nurses need – patience, understanding, and a desire to do a job in the field. What sets the critical care nurse apart is the desire to build on those skills and expand them into a specific area.

The critical care nurse must be able to work fluidly in a fast paced environment. He or she needs to have pristine organization skills and be able to assess a situation with little or no immediate direction.

Nurses working to help save patientMore often than not, patients in need of a critical care nurse can give little to no insight into why they are suffering.

Simply put, these patients are in need of assistance. They can be in a situation where communication is not available.

For the critical care nurse, there is little time for evaluation.

Critical care nurses may be presented with a life threatening issue regarding a patient and need to advise and evaluate in a short amount of time.

Many nurses enjoy working in an office environment where they have the time to discuss issues with patients and help a physician in their hypothesis regarding the patient’s needs.

However, the critical care nurse is not afforded this opportunity. 

They must be capable and able to work quickly and offer insight through experience and education.

What Education Does a Critical Care Nurse Need?

What does it take to be a critical care nurse? Learn what you need to know to be a critical care nurse. #icunursingcareersThe type of education a nurse chooses helps to determine how successful they can be as a critical care nurse.

For example, they need to have extensive treatment experience. Whether it be through clinical training or through their nursing career, this insight will help them in their response time for patients in need.

Nurses interested in becoming a critical care nurse should look for a program that gives them a good understanding of the changing healthcare environment as well as a comprehensive look at the environment they will be facing.

Once the education is obtained, the job possibilities are vast in the healthcare field. While it can be challenging, the critical care nurse has many opportunities for a rewarding and versatile career.


Critical Care Nurse Responsibilities Include Delivering Bad News

Critical care nurse responsibilities include delivering bad news to patients and their families. Read these 5 tips to better the way you deliver bad news.Critical care nurses serve as a liaison between doctors, patients, and the patient’s loved ones. This means that critical care nurse responsibilities include delivering bad news to patients and their families, which is never an easy position to be in.

Nurses are in charge of delivering news that can completely change the course of a person’s life.

Though there is no way to make this situation easy or pleasant, there are several ways or techniques to deliver the news so as to make it easier on the patient and their family.

Related Reading: Critical Care Nursing: How the Role Continues to Evolve

The ABCDE of Breaking Bad News

There are countless studies, opinions, and resources aiming to provide nurses and physicians with the best ways to break bad news.

In 2001 The American Family Physician journal developed a five-step outline which they boiled down to an ABCDE mnemonic device.

Related Reading: What is a Critical Care Nurse and What Does it Take to Become One?

A – Advanced Preparation

  • Be informed about the patient’s condition, labs, etc. to be able to provide basic information on prognosis and treatment options.
  • Schedule an appropriate time in an appropriate location to deliver the news.
  • Rehearse what you’re going to say and prepare emotionally.

B – Build a Therapeutic Environment

  • Introduce yourself and make sure you know everyone in the room and their relationship to the patient.
  • Make sure you let them know you’re available and schedule follow-up meetings.

C – Communicate Well

  • Be honest, but compassionate.
  • Don’t use medical jargon they won’t understand.
  • Summarize and make follow-up plans.
  • Proceed at the patient’s pace, not your own.

D – Deal with Patient & Family Reactions

  • Respond to emotions, be aware of body language.
  • Be empathetic.

E – Encourage Emotions

  • Offer hope, but be realistic. Don’t promise impossible things.
  • Inquire about their emotional status and needs.

A Necessary Burden

Nurse consoles patient relative

Being the go-to person of doctors, patients, and families entail a great responsibility.

Part of that responsibility is being the bearer of tragic news that will likely change people’s lives forever and turn their world upside down.

Receiving bad news is inevitable, but being mindful about how you deliver it can make a world of difference.

Thinking about changing your career path? Learn more about different nursing careers.