How Do You Become an ICU Nurse?

If you would like to specialize your nursing career and you respond well under high-stress circumstances, you might want to become an ICU Nurse. ICU nursing professionals specialize in critical care and play an important role in keeping patients in ICU departments as stable and comfortable as possible. Since patients who are cared for in a critical care unit could have potentially life-threatening problems, erratic vital signs and difficulty communicating with staff, nurses who care for ICU patients must have specialized training. Here is what you need to do to attain the skills you need to work in the ICU.

Enroll in a Nursing Degree Program

The very first step to becoming a CCU specialized nurse is to become an RN. Before you can reach RN status, you need to have a nursing degree from an approved nursing program. You can either pursue your Associates degree or your Bachelor of Science in Nursing to satisfy the education requirements. Since there is a graduate degree requirement for later certification, a BSN is recommended.

Sit For Your Licensing Exam

After you complete your degree program, you will be ready to apply for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. You need to pass the licensure exam before you can work as a Registered Nurse in any state.

Get Nursing Experience in the Right Settings

As with any professional specialization, you need experience. After you are licensed, you can start to search for work. It is best to take an entry-level position in an acute care setting where you will take vitals signs and administer medications. This helps you develop the skills that you will use in ICU with critical patients. You can look for experience in ICU departments or similar settings.

Get Certified to Become a Better Candidate

If you cannot find a position in the ICU department, consider applying for your Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification, according to the American Heart Association. Having this will make you a much more attractive candidate. It might take some experience in less chaotic environments before you can land an entry-level critical care position.

Study For Your Master’s

To become a master of ICU practices you should study for a master’s degree. It is best to take a graduate nurse practitioner program majoring in acute care. In this type of program you will study life support, cardiology, trauma nursing, and pathophysiology. The curriculum will also help prepare you for the certification exam you must take to get CCU certified.

Get Your Critical Care Nurse Certification

Most hospitals are looking for specialists who possess their Critical Care Nurse Certification through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. If you want to stand out, earn your CCN designation by completing the work experience requirements and passing the certification exam. You might also want to consider the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner board certification if you meet the eligibility requirement, according to the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Related Resource: Nurse Educator

Acutely ill patients deserve excellent care. If you want to go from general nursing to a specialty, consider going down this path. It takes the right type of professional to work in stressful and emotionally-charged settings like the ICU. Consider your personality and what motivates you so that you can decide if you want to become an ICU nurse.