As an ICU nurse, you will care for patients when they need you most. ICU nursing, also known as critical care nursing, is a challenging yet exciting field that is not for the faint of heart. Among nursing jobs, this specialty provides an ideal opportunity for nurses to put their knowledge and skills into action to help patients, families, and medical professionals save lives.
If you have superior critical thinking skills and can remain calm under pressure, intensive care nursing may be your ideal career. Effective ICU nurses have specialized knowledge, emotional strength, resilience, and composure. They must be able to cope with the possibility of losing their patients – as critical care patients’ lives are often at risk. They should also be prepared to provide clear information and moral support for families.
As an ICU travel nurse, you will care for patients who are in immediate recovery from injury, illness or surgery. Many patients will be in critical condition when they arrive. Their vital signs may be unstable, or they may be unconscious.
ICU nurses admit and stabilize patients upon arrival, administer medications and intravenous fluids, monitor vital signs and provide general daily care. The nurses must keep accurate records and should immediately report any changes to the attending physician. ICU nurses operate specialized equipment which may include ultrasound, electrocardiogram, defibrillator, mechanical ventilation, cardiac monitor and advanced life support systems.
Because ICU nurses have very few patients under their charge, they can make a great impact and bond with patients and their families.
To become an ICU nurse, you must graduate with either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school. You must also pass your licensing exam to become a registered nurse (RN). Most facilities prefer nurses who have experience in the intensive or critical care unit and especially those who have a critical care registered nurse (CCRN) certification which can be pursued after two years of experience in the CCU. Some ICU nurses have master’s or doctorate degrees, and some have certifications in progressive care, cardiac medicine, cardiac surgery, or transport nursing.
ICU/critical care nurses work in hospital intensive care, critical care, post-operative care, and high dependency units. Some serve as members of medical evacuation and transport teams. Additionally, ICU nurses work in critical care cardiothoracic or burn units and pediatric or neonatal units. Average ICU travel nursing salary ranges from $49,500 to $95,500 per year depending on location, credentials, and specialization.
ICU nurses are in demand. This career is intense, challenging, and rewarding. With over 10,000 nurses placed on assignment annually, at Cross Country TravCorps, we have the travel nursing job you’ve been seeking. Contact us today to find your next assignment.
Are you thinking about travel nursing but still wondering which field is right for you? Explore our top travel nursing specialties to learn more: