The ICU or intensive care unit or critical care unit is a ward of a hospital devoted to the care of people whose medical conditions require close observation and extra care. ICU registered nurses (RNs) are a part of the medical team who treats patients in the ICU.
ICU registered nurses provide patient care as well as education and support to the patient's family. RNs work alongside the patient's physicians and provide direction to licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants who work within the unit.
ICU registered nurses ensure that life support equipment, such as ventilators and feeding tubes, functions properly. They observe the patient's heart rate, blood pressure and respiration for signs of distress. Registered nurses also administer IVs, bring medication and insert catheters as needed.
ICU registered nurses begin their careers by attending either a two-year associates degree, a three-year hospital training diploma or a four-year bachelors degree. After graduation, a nursing student earns registered nurse licensing with the successful completion of a written examination.
Some employers prefer to hire ICU registered nurses who hold voluntary certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. To obtain certification, registered nurses must have a required amount of clinical practice hours in nursing and must pass a specialized written examination.
In October 2009, the average annual salary for ICU registered nurses was $73,000, according to Indeed.com.
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