How to Become an ICU Nurse

The work of an ICU nurse is strenuous, tedious, and incredibly exhausting, but truly passionate professionals feel that all their efforts are well worth the struggle in the long run. If you are interested in this career and what it has to offer you, you might want to learn what it takes to become an ICU nurse. This process varies from one person to the next, but the overall steps are about the same across the board. Here is a comprehensive guide showing how to become an ICU nurse.

Step 1 – Determine If ICU Nursing Is Right for You

Before you can start the process of becoming an ICU nurse, you need to determine if you actually want to work in this career. The job duties in it are similar to those of any other nursing position, but the stakes are much more intense. Every medication you give out and every vital sign you take is much more significant in the ICU because your patients are under critical care. You have to decide if you can handle that kind of pressure. Here are some of the job duties you may come across as an ICU nurse:

  • Administer medications
  • Check vital signs
  • Clean out bedpans
  • Educate patients
  • Provide emotional support
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Walk patients to the bathroom
  • Write progress reports

Step 2 – Get an Education

You will need to get a college education to work as an ICU nurse. The specific degree that you get will depend on the career that you want to hold. If you want to work in the lower levels of the ICU, you will need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. If you want to work as a nurse practitioner or the manager of the ward, you will need a master’s degree or higher. Most people spend about four years training to work in the ICU, but some spend eight or longer. You just have to explore your educational options to see what you want to do.

Step 3 – Get Certified

Once you have your college education out of the way, you will need one or more certifications to verify your work skills. Some certifications are harder than others, but you should be able to get any one of them through the classes you took in college. Here are some popular certification programs you may go through as an ICU nurse:

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Basic Life Support
  • Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support
  • Registered Nurse
  • Trauma Nursing Course Certified

Step 4 – Find a Job as an ICU Nurse

With your certification and degree complete, all you have to do is find a job as an ICU nurse. There are many employers in need of nursing professionals at the moment, and you could work with any one of them. As long as there is an ICU or critical care department for you to work in, you should be able to find a job as a specialized nurse. Here are some employers you may keep in mind:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Acute Care Hospitals
  • Nurse Facilities
  • Hospice Facilities
  • Healthcare Facilities
  • Critical Care Facilities
  • Intensive Care Wards

You now know how to become an ICU nurse. All you have to do is follow the steps above to start your career. In just a few short years, you could be on your way to an exciting and rewarding career.