What Does A Critical Care Nurse Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, OverviewLeave a Comment

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Critical Care Nurses

Critical Care Nurses provide specialized nursing care for patients in critical or coronary care units.

Salary
$80010
Becoming One
Medium
Education
Bachelor's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Critical Care Nurses provide specialized nursing care for patients in critical or coronary care units.

  • 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.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Critical Care Nurses identify patients’ age-specific needs and alter care plans as necessary to meet those needs. They evaluate patients’ vital signs or laboratory data to determine emergency intervention needs.

A typical day for a Critical Care Nurse will also include:

  • Monitor patients for changes in status and indications of conditions such as sepsis or shock and institute appropriate interventions.
  • Identify patients at risk of complications due to nutritional status.
  • Assess patients’ pain levels or sedation requirements.
  • Conduct pulmonary assessments to identify abnormal respiratory patterns or breathing sounds that indicate problems.
  • Assess family adaptation levels and coping skills to determine whether intervention is needed.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Critical Care Nurses also participate in professional organizations and continuing education to improve practice knowledge and skills. They may also administer blood and blood products, monitoring patients for signs and symptoms related to transfusion reactions.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Critical Care Nurses assist physicians with procedures such as bronchoscopy, endoscopy, endotracheal intubation, or elective cardioversion. They might also provide post-mortem care.

In addition, they plan, provide, or evaluate educational programs for nursing staff, interdisciplinary health care team members, or community members.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them coordinate patient care conferences.

To some Critical Care Nurses, it is also their responsibility to participate in the development, review, or evaluation of nursing practice protocols.

Featured Schools


What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Very High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

74% said they were satisfied with their job and 82% said they found their job meaningful.


Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D., RN, CNE
https://www.nursetogether.com/

My name is Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads. I am a nurse, educator, and writer who has earned a BSN, MS, and Ph.D. in nursing education.

My first job as an RN was in an adult surgical/trauma critical care unit at a Level-1 trauma center. My typical day would start as I arrived on the unit around 6:40 am to get situated and begin looking up patient information before my shift started at 7 am. Most of the time I had two patients (2-1 patient-nurse ratio), but sometimes a patient was a 1-1 and I would have only one patient that day. I would receive the patient care report from the RN who had my patient(s) over the night shift (7p-7a) at the bedside of each patient. Once shift change and report was over, I would start an assessment on each patient and administer their medications. During this time the critical care team would be making rounds to visit all of the patients and I would need to be present to give a report to the attending surgeon or senior resident. The rest of my day comprised of various duties: oral care for vented patients, trach care, central line care, turning and positioning patients, administering medications and titrating IV medications, taking patients for CT scans or MRIs, assisting the surgeons in bedside procedures, answering family member’s questions, and keeping a very close eye on my patients to keep them alive.

Pros and Cons

The pros of being a critical care nurse include a small nurse-to-patient ratio, working closely with primary care providers, performing high-level nursing skills, and the fast pace of patient care in the ICU. Some of the cons include not very much interaction with the patient because they are often heavily sedation and intubated, enduring very emotional situations because the patients are very sick, and the pressure of literally working all day to keep people alive. I hope this information is helpful.


Pros

Suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Normal working hours (40 hours per week).

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to follow routines.

How much do they make

Average salary

$80010 per year

Average hourly wage

$38 per hour

Entry-level Critical Care Nurses with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $53,410 to $61,630 per year or $26 to $30 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $116,230 $56
Senior (Top 25%) $93,590 $45
Median $75,330 $36
Junior (Bottom 25%) $61,630 $30
No experience (Bottom 10%) $53,410 $26

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Critical Care Nurses based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Business Support Services $106670 $51.28
Federal Executive Branch $96230 $46.26
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing $92110 $44.29
Other Investment Pools and Funds $91990 $44.23
Office Administrative Services $89490 $43.02
Outpatient Care Centers $89300 $42.93
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing $89040 $42.81
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing $88660 $42.63
Other Amusement and Recreation Industries $84800 $40.77
Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers $84450 $40.60

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Critical Care Nurses work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Critical Care Nurses including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 1729200 $81680 $39.27
Offices of Physicians 192300 $71660 $34.45
Home Health Care Services 169630 $75870 $36.48
Outpatient Care Centers 150380 $89300 $42.93
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) 143250 $72090 $34.66
Federal Executive Branch 86860 $96230 $46.26
Specialty Hospitals 63910 $82910 $39.86
Elementary and Secondary Schools 54500 $62170 $29.89
Employment Services 51860 $75300 $36.20
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals 39840 $77250 $37.14

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
35%

40 hours
40%

More than 40 hours
25%

Working schedule

84%

16%

0%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
10%

Every day
80%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
100%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
5%

Every day
95%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
40%

Once a year
50%

Once a month
0%

Once a week
10%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
5%

Slightly competitive
30%

Moderately competitive
35%

Highly competitive
25%

Extremely competitive
5%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
5%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
5%

Once a week or more
5%

Every day
85%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
90%

Once a year or more
5%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
5%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
95%

Once a year or more
5%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
100%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Medium
You will need previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an Associate’s degree, and one or two years of on-the-job training. Similar careers include Travel Agents, Agricultural Technicians, Court Reports, and Medical Assistants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
5%

Associate’s Degree or similar
45%

Bachelor’s Degree
45%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
5%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

No majors found

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
15%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
15%

1 to 2 years
45%

2 to 4 years
15%

4 to 6 years
10%

6 to 8 years
0%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
0%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
25%

3 to 6 months
50%

6 months to 1 year
15%

1 to 2 years
10%

2 to 4 years
0%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Helper

People with this personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.

The Builder
57%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
62%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
38%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
95%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
43%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
38%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others.

They also like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
81%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
74%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
76%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
95%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
86%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
81%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


Don’t know which career to pursue?

Take the career quiz to find careers that match your personality type.

Take The Career Quiz


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.