Critical Care Nurse Requirements
When considering the option to become a critical care nurse, there are certain requirements that must be met before providing care directly to critically or acutely ill patients. Typically, the nurses who choose this certification, do so because they want to improve their skills and specialize in a particular area; these areas include intensive care, transportation services, cardiac care, or trauma units. Critical care nurses also have the option to specialize in a specific age group of patients ranging from neonatal to pediatric, adults to elderly.
Taking this next step in a nursing career requires a nurse to already be registered or have an APRN, a post-graduate degree nurses can obtain to become more advanced. In the United States, this license has no formal disciplinary applications or conditions that can limit the way the nurse practices. Beyond these requirements, nurses must become certified.
In order to be considered for certification, the candidate must first meet certain criteria which includes:
- A nurse must have a minimum of 1,750 hours providing care at the bedside of people who are deemed as critically ill.
- The hours must have been spent in the two years prior to application
- 875 of those will need to be in the past 12 months.
- A nurse must have a minimum of 5 years practicing as a registered nurse or APRN
- The requirement for hours spent with patients for this option must be at least 2000 hours
- 144 hours must have been spent in the 12 months prior to application.
In order for the hours to be counted towards the mandatory quota, they must have been spent bedside, looking after patients one-on-one. The hours must also be relative to the type of critical care that the exam is being taken for, such as pediatric for example.
If a previous job role was managerial or educational, any time spent overseeing nursing staff or students will count. This is classified as an APRN in education.
If a nurse has worked in the United States or Canada, at a facility which is comparable to the same standard of care provided in a hospital’s critical or intensive care unit, they will need to provide the contact details of a professional that they have worked with during this time. This professional must be someone with supervisory status, or a colleague that is already registered as a nurse or physician.
A CCRN, or critical care nurse certification, consists of a training followed with an exam. The exam is used to verify what has been learned, and ensure that the information can be applied in an environment with critically ill patients.
The information taught during the training and verified on the final test is extremely important in providing critically ill patients with the best level of care possible. The training goes into great depth, requiring intensive studying to learn the latest critical care techniques and medical practices in order to pass.
During the critical care course, nurses will learn how to provide emergency lifesaving care in the absence of a specialist doctor. A critical care nurse needs to be able to use their own initiative, in conjunction with their hands on experience, to complete the tasks at hand.
Nurses will have to pass the CCRN in their chosen field, such as adult critical care or neonatal critical care. Owning a certification handbook will help with understanding the policies and information regarding the exam in order to pass. The handbook elaborates on the application process, as well as the test information, to help prepare applicants.
The exam will last for approximately three hours and consist of 150 questions. The questions will be multiple choice. Of these questions, 125 will be used for scoring, and the remaining 25 are used to gain information for the improvement of future examinations. The test focuses on adult, pediatric, and neonatal critical care. Each area of expertise will be highlighted when test results are given. The majority of the content is related to caring for critically ill adults.
If passed, the certification received will be valid for three years. After the 3 years, additional training will be required to ensure critical care nurses are up to date with any changes to the way they practice. It is crucial that nurses are aware of new technologies that help to better assess the patients vitals in order to apply the appropriate and best possible treatment option.
The amount of time it takes to become a CCRN will depend on current qualifications. If a nurse is not yet registered, they will have to complete this step first and gain hands-on experience to meet the hour requirements. If a person is looking to work in critical care from day one, they can state this and request to nurse patients who need this kind of care. In this case, the nurse should work under the observation of a more experienced medical practitioner or nurse who will be able to verify the amount of time spent administering care. The hours can then be used to qualify for the critical care training and exam.
The practical care experience gained during the CCRN course, will help the nurse to pass the exam. In addition, the handbook provides the information needed to best prepare. Once passed, a nurse is then certified to give the level of care that critically ill patients need. The certification opens up more opportunities for a nurse to work in a variety of different units. In review, if critical care nursing is your desired path, it is best to identify this goal and inform who you report to. It is beneficial to begin gaining experience as early as possible in order to meet your hourly requirement for certification. Once the hours of experience have been acquired, you will be ready to attend the training and prepare for the CCRN exam. If passed successfully, you will be able to assist critically ill patients independently and take the next step in your career.
A Day in the Life of a Critical Care Nurse