The Ins and Outs of the Critical Care Nursing Field

Whenever the term critical care is mentioned – most people immediately think about severely sick patients in intensive care units or ICUs. They are not mistaken. Intensive Care Units and Critical Care specialized areas in the hospital that care for patients in need of intense and one on one attention. These are the areas where a critical care nurse Practices.

What is a Critical Care Nurse

A Critical Care Nurse or a CCN is a highly specialized nurse that has been trained to work in Intensive Care areas. They are nurses that care for patients who are severely ill and in need of individualized care. A CCN cares for patients of all diagnoses and gender. Patients may vary depending on this category. Critical care nurses also deal with complex technology that helps sustain patients.

The History

This type of nursing is a relatively new nursing specialty. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the very first Intensive Care Units appeared in the Western world. These units were created to deal with gravely ill patients. They were considered to need a more intensive form of care compared to the patients in the regular wards. The notion of an intensive care unit quickly spread. Today, most hospitals are required to have these specialized areas and in turn specialized nurses and physicians to run them.

Back then, nurses assigned in CCUs and ICUs were not seen as different from regular ward RNs. It was only a few years later that CCN was considered as a specialized nursing field.

Roles of a CCN

Like any other registered nurse, the roles of the critical care nurse are very complex. These nurses have to deal with severely ill patients. They also need to be familiar with complex technologies that are continually present in a critical care setting. The critical care nurse also has to know basic and advance life support. Such skills may be called upon at any point during his/her service.

The critical care nurse must also be skilled in the art of diagnosis. He/she must be able to diagnose and identify a patient’s immediate needs. This part of nursing is important as it may be the difference between life and death for a patient. Nonetheless, the nurse must remember that despite being skilled at diagnosis, one must not overstep her boundaries and perform roles reserved for a physician alone.

Aside from dealing with patients and their needs, the CCN also has to deal with the patient’s family. The CCN often works as a counselor that helps the family get through the crisis at hand. He/she may have to deal with questions and concerns from the patient’s immediate family and significant others.

Qualifications and Requirements

IN THE PHILIPPINES – Locally, any registered nurse can become a critical care nurse. It is only a matter of area assignment. Most of the time, nurses who are assigned in critical care units are those who have shown promise in their previous areas of exposure. They are also the ones who have worked in similar areas such as medical/surgical or pediatric units.

ABROAD – Abroad, in the US specifically, there are no specialized requirement to be a critical care nurse other than an RN License. However, there are bodies of authority that certify CCNs.

Although, certification is not required, most CCNs abroad are choosing to go for it because it increases their credibility. Employers also often require their CCNs to be certified in the field. Certification is achieved post graduation. It is not something taught in school. Some schools may expose their students to ICUs, but this is not considered enough for certification. The RNs get their CCN certificates while they are on the job. It is also often sponsored by the employer.

Work Opportunities in the Philippine Nursing Scene

There are a lot of opportunities to become a critical care nurse in the Philippines. But, nurses have to understand that these critical care units are often hard to get into. These units only require a limited number of nurses. Most of the time there are only a total of 12 nurses that work in a typical ICU with 8-10 beds.

Those who do get into these areas are considered lucky because their position opens great opportunities to work abroad. In most settings, CCNs have a lesser work load compared to nurses in large wards. Patients in ICUs need more attention but the numbers are much smaller compared to wards. A typical government hospital ward may hold 50-70 patients and with only a nurse or two to manage it.

Work Abroad

There are a lot of work opportunities for a critical care nurse abroad. The CCN can work in any area where there is an intensive care unit. Certification is often an option provided by employers to deserving and promising nurses. The employers are often the ones who fund certification seminars and the likes.

With the present shortage in nursing manpower, hospitals are clamoring to get their hands on specialized nurses. These employers would often offer big sign-in bonuses just to get a nurse to work with them. The average salary of a critical care nurse in the US often ranges from USD50,000 – USD 75,000. It is estimated that nearly 70% of the critical care nurse population earn that much. Some earn slightly lower while others earn upwards of USD90,000 to USD100,000 annually.

From: Carmela Bignotia

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Why Critical Care is So Important

Critical care is an area of medicine that deals with the life-support and care of patients that are critically ill. Normally if you hear doctors refer to a patient as being in critical care, they are basically saying that the patient is in intensive care. The medicines that are administered in critical care are also intensive care medicines. This kind of service was established in different hospitals to ensure that you and the ones you love will be well taken cared of in times of emergency. The critical care service may not seem that important to you now until you are in a position where you or a member of your family is in desperate need of this service. Nevertheless, being aware that this service is available to you will make you feel a lot more comfortable, if you were to find yourself in an unfortunate emergency health situation.

It is very important that medical critical care services be available for 24 hours every day, as there are many people, probably thousands that may require this service on a day to day basis. It is highly recommended that you have a medical care service on call, if you are looking after members of your family that are diagnosed with diseases which make them susceptible to strokes, heart attacks or any other disease that is life threatening. In addition, in the case of pregnant women, these services can provide the much needed help if a delicate emergency delivery of the baby were to take place. This kind of service would also ensure that the necessary health care is given if any complications were to be developed at the time, or during delivery.

Critical care service would also be the best chance you have at getting emergency health care, if you were to develop or experience any severe medical complications in your body. This is because this service would ensure that intensive care is given to you by the medical staff as quickly as possible. In addition, there is no other medical service available that would be able to let you recover as quickly and safely as the service provided by critical care.

However, in order to be considered for the critical care services, your injury or illness, must meet the definition of a critically ill or injured individual. A person who is critically ill or injured is in a state that will harm one or more than one, of their vital organ systems, for example the respiratory system. The harm being done in this case to your vital organ system, must also be considered to be life threatening or a situation that will definitely result in your condition getting worse. If your injury or illness, meets the conditions above, then the critical care service would be administered to you.

If it so happens that you have to go to the critical care unit one day, there will be a team of doctors who will administer the necessary critical care service. They will perform critical services that will involve very complex decisions to control, assess, and support the operations of your vital organ system, and your organ system failure will be treated. These doctors will also carry out the necessary measures to ensure that your situation does not deteriorate any further, thus saving your life or the life of a member of your family.

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