Travel Nurses and the ICU

Nearly 5.7 million patients are admitted to the ICU of hospitals across the US each year. For most of those 5.7 million patients, the care and expertise of the ICU staff is the only thing standing between them and death.

Thus, the role of the ICU nurse is a critical one. What’s more, not every registered nurse is willing or able to handle the rigors of working in the ICU.

For those who are able to take on the charge, it is a rewarding and challenging career. And for travel nurses who want a good pick of jobs while earning a high wage, specializing in the ICU is a good way to do it.

Let’s look at some benefits.

Life in the ICU

Working in the ICU is intense. That’s probably why they call it the Intensive Care Unit. In this work environment, you will constantly see the worst of the worst.

Your patients may be gravely ill or injured. You’ll do everything you can to save someone’s life. Sometimes you’ll fail. That can get pretty stressful.

But sometimes, you’ll succeed. And there’s nothing quite like seeing the gratitude on the faces of your patient’s family.

Because of the nature of the work, you will quickly hone your nursing skills and your ability to think calmly under pressure. There is, and always will be, demand for these skills all across the country. And hospitals are willing to pay well for a nurse with the right requirements.

Thus, if you’ve ever thought about becoming a travel nurse, specializing as an ICU travel nurse might be the way to go for you.

What Is a Travel Nurse?

Let’s back up for a second. You might be wondering what a travel nurse is.

Travel nurses work for staffing agencies that partner with hospitals all across the country. Hospitals can advertise their short-term needs for a nurse with these agencies.

Travel nurses take these positions and work short-term periods in different hospitals. That means they move from city to city every few months and enjoy a varied and adventurous career and lifestyle.

ICU Travel Nurses

Working as a travel nurse has some great benefits for the adventurous soul. You get to experience life in many cities across America with the constant assurance that you’ll have a job at your new location before you pack up and move.

You also tend to make a good wage and enjoy various tax breaks unique to your unique career field. The staffing agency usually provides you with the normal health insurance and other benefits you would expect from a steady job. Plus, they often help you find or even provide housing at each new location.

But what are the benefits specific to being an ICU travel nurse? Let’s take a look.

Pay

Because of the demanding nature of ICUs, the pay for an ICU position is very good. It is higher on average than what nurses who work in other parts of the hospital earn. Depending on experience and credentials, ICU nurses can earn $95,000 a year.

As a travel ICU nurse, you can expect even better wages. Although this, of course, is dependent on certifications and experience.

On top of that, you get to add the benefits of being a travel nurse. Just the free housing benefit is like earning extra income because you don’t have to pay housing costs. Plus, you don’t have to pay taxes on it!

Job Availability

As a general rule, it isn’t too difficult for travel nurses to find desirable positions in places they would like to visit. However, those with limited specialties or job experience may have a harder time qualifying for the positions they want.

ICU nurses, on the other hand, are in high demand. With the right qualifications as an ICU nurse, you will basically have your pick of job openings all across the US.

Professional Growth

As an ICU nurse working in various different hospitals, you’ll have the opportunity for a tremendous amount of professional growth.

Working in an ICU in general presents you with a number of challenging situations that will help you learn and grow as a nurse. As a travel nurse, you’ll work with, and learn from, many different professionals in your field.

Not only can you work in a variety of ICUs, but also you can also experience working in different kinds of ICUs. Try out a stint in a Pediatric ICU or Neonatal ICU. For your next assignment, hop over to a Cardiovascular ICU. As long as you have the basic experience and qualifications that the hospital requires, you’ll be able to land a job.

As you can imagine, the possibilities for professional growth are spectacular.

Perks

We’ve already mentioned that hospitals pay well for nurses with solid ICU experience. To sweeten the pot, they also may offer some rather impressive incentive packages.

You also have more control over your daily schedule. Typically, during the negotiating process before you sign your contract, you can work out the hours you will be working before you begin. You can usually factor in specific days off for personal/family events and whatnot.

Is ICU Travel Nursing for You?

What do you think? Is becoming an ICU travel nurse appealing to you? Only you can decide if the rigors of the ICU, coupled with the relative instability of being a travel nurse is right for you. It takes a special type of person to successfully fill this type of role.

However, there are a lot of travel nurses out there living a full, adventurous life and making a good wage while doing it. Working in an ICU is hard but rewarding work.

Are you interested in learning more about getting certified to work in an ICU? Feel free to check out our professional certifications page. We’ll help you get the education you need to land the job you love!

PACU nurse

All nursing professions vary on the day-to-day job responsibilities, compensation, and advancement potential. If you are interested in a nursing profession that offers a high rate of pay and travel opportunities, PACU nursing is worth your consideration.

This article provides information on what a PACU nurse does, how much they earn, and how to enter the field of PACU nursing.

What Is a PACU Nurse?

PACU stands for post-anesthesia care unit. These nurses care for patients that are recovering from being under the effects of an anesthetic while in surgery. PACU nurses are responsible for ensuring the patient’s safe and speedy recovery.

Patients who undergo anesthesia often experience post-operation symptoms that include confusion, upset stomach, and respiratory weakness. Patients may be in pain from surgery and the PACU nurse is in charge of their post-op care.

Working in a post-anesthesia care unit is high-speed and requires nurses to make decisions on the fly.

Nursing Duties in a Post-anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

PACU nurses are in charge of monitoring a patient’s vital signs as they are awakening from anesthesia. When patients have side effects of anesthesia, like nausea or pain, the nurse caters to the patient’s needs. This can involve quelling their confusion or administering pain treatment.

The PACU nurse must collaborate with a diverse team of medical professionals. They work to ensure patient documentation and communication with other medical staff on changing circumstances. The PACU nurse also is responsible for communicating with the patient and family on the proper continuation of care post-op.

PACU Nursing Salary

Because of how important post-operation care is in a patients recovery, a PACU nurse is considered a high-level, expert nursing position. PACU nurses care for patients that are in their most vulnerable states.

PACU nursing is not an entry-level job. The requirement of technical expertise, communication prowess, and management skills dictate a higher rate of pay for a PACU nurse.

A PACU nurse averages an annual salary of about $65k. Starting positions begin around $50k. On the high end, the position pays up to around $90k.

The average hourly pay for PACU nurses works out to be around $30 to $40 an hour. With the benefits that come with many professions in the medical field, yearly compensation often tops $75k.

PACU Nursing Education Requirments

A nurse that works in a post-anesthetic care unit is highly experienced, trained, and educated in their profession. As is true of any nurse, the base requirement to be a PACU nurse is to get a nursing degree. This and other nursing certifications are crucial for the progression of your career.

You can get an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Nursing degrees must come from an accredited nursing degree program.

When you have a nursing degree, you must pass the National Council License Examination. Passing this exam will enable you to work as a registered nurse.

In most states, you must accrue at least two years of hospital nursing experience working as a registered nurse in the United States. Depending on the hospital, extra certifications may be required before you can apply to transfer to the post-anesthetic care unit.

Once you work in the unit, you can get registered to become a PACU nurse. A certification is required to work as a PACU nurse in any hospital in the United States.

PACU Nursing Certification Requirments

Once you have are a registered nurse, you can begin the certification requirements for becoming a PACU nurse. Over a period of two years, you must complete a minimum of 1,800 hours of clinical on-the-job experience in a PACU.

Every three years you must re-certify as a PACU nurse. There are two ways of doing this. You can retake the PACU exam or complete 90 contact hours.

Becoming a PACU Travel Nurse

PACU nurses often come with an extensive background of experience working in emergency rooms and intensive-care units. The range of medical situations that a nurse must deal with in an emergency room or ICU is perfect training for being a PACU nurse. PACU nurses make quick decisions and stay calm in emergency situations.

Working as a PACU nurse for at least two years enables you to confidently apply for travel PACU RN positions. The vast majority of traveling PACU nursing jobs expect candidates to have sufficient residency experience.

PACU Nursing Career Advancement Opportunities

A PACU nurse is a highly respected and sought-after position in the perianesthesia career field. And you can advance your career from there to several higher tiers of nursing. PACU nurses are well suited to advance to clinical nurse specialist or nurse anesthetist.

Eventually, your PACU nursing career primes you to move into a supervisory, managerial, or directorial nursing position. If you choose to continue your studies and earn a master’s or doctoral degree, you can become a nurse educator.

Final Thoughts

PACU nursing is a specialized position that requires you to practice sound judgment and medical expertise in time-sensitive situations. It takes years of dedication and focus to attain the position, but it offers a higher pay rate than many other nursing positions.

Is PACU nursing the career for you? Feel free to leave us a comment or question on any of the pieces of information offered in the article. Or, if you are a registered PACU nurse, leave a comment on the nature of your work and day-to-day life.

If you know someone who wants to become a PACU nurse, share this article on social media. And, subscribe to our newsletter for more information on this and other careers in nursing. Thanks for reading!

Career Spotlight: ICU Nurse

Do you function well under pressure? Do you find that you thrive when the stakes are high and the life or death outcome is up to you? Then you may be the perfect fit for an ICU nurse.

Working with critical care patients is as exciting and stressful as it sounds. You get to save their lives every day, but it’s also challenging, overwhelming, and, at times, scary.

If you want to be a nurse but are looking for a little more challenge than being a regular RN, look into working in an ICU.

If we’ve spiked your interest, read below for some information on what a day in the life is like and how to become an ICU nurse below.

How to Become an ICU Nurse

There are a few differences when it comes to ICU nurses and regular RNs. Both need a nursing degree and both need to pass the NCLEX-RN.

You can work towards your nursing degree online and find specialized programs for working in the ICU. Once you have your RN license, you may find you’re more competitive as a potential employee if you get some more education.

Some nurses with the time and resources to complete more schooling get a masters in critical care. Others do well to find work in emergency rooms or urgent care, to build up their resume before applying to the ICU.

Certification wise, you’ll need to pass your nursing exam and a few assorted certifications for life support.

Who Makes a Good ICU Nurse?

Not everyone can handle the pressure, prioritizing, and chaos of the ICU. To succeed you need to have high personal organization skills.

Along with being able to organize yourself, you need to have high interpersonal communication skills. Working as a nurse means you’re part of a team of care. If you can’t or don’t communicate efficiently, mistakes will happen.

You also need to be highly empathetic and have good people skills. Many of the patients that come into the ICU won’t be conscious, but you’ll have to deal with worried families. No one wants to give bad news, but you also have to be truthful and not sugar coat diagnoses.

Performance wise, you’ll need to be able to prioritize. Making decisions that can change the course of someone’s life is part of your job. Critical thinking skills, planning, and the ability to multitask come in handy too.

Technical Skills

Along with the regular skills you learned in nursing school, ICU nurses need to be quick and efficient with procedures. That means catheters, traction equipment, and anything that goes with coding levels.

Up to date knowledge with data software, medical imaging devices and measurements are necessary as well.

Job Responsibilities

Now that you know a little bit more about the details, let’s look at the life of an ICU nurse. Shifts for ICU nurses are similar to other nurse shifts, which is to say long blocks of hours at a time.

Your responsibilities when on the job include patient intake from the emergency room or after surgery. If a patient in the other hospital wings codes and becomes higher need, then it’s your job to transition them into the ICU.

Along with intake, you’re responsible for daily patient care. This is anything a patient needs, from more medication to changing wound wraps. Some patients come into the ICU not because they’re in great distress, but because they need more hands-on care than other floors can provide.

It’s likely that you’ll handle codes and end of life issues on the floor as an ICU nurse. That means you’ll have to make split-second decisions and sometimes communicate dire news to families.

Finally, you’ll spend time communicating with doctors and other care professionals. Reading test results, taking notes from MD’s and ordering tests are all on the table as well.

Pros and Cons of Being an ICU Nurse

Being an ICU nurse is a high-stress job, but it’s also high-excitement and high-payoff. If you’re questioning if it’s for you, read the following comparison.

Pros:

  • Never a dull moment
  • High employment stability
  • Reasonable-high wages
  • Saving lives
  • Seeing patients succeed

Cons:

  • High stress
  • Chaotic
  • Long hours

If you think you can handle the chaos and sometimes stressful circumstances, you’ll find you also get an intense positive payoff. Many ICU nurses thrive on and love the challenges of providing critical care.

The best part of being an ICU nurse, for most, is when a patient is released from your care. Either they’re out of the hospital entirely, or you’ve cared for them enough that they’re able to go into non-ICU care.

You’ll save lives every day as an ICU RN.

The Details

Finally, let’s look at the details. You’ll spend about three years getting your nursing degree, then about two collecting critical care experience.

Once you’ve completed your education requirements, you can expect an above average paycheck. The average salary for ICU nurses in 2017 was $70,000.

Salaries range by state and hospital but stay around $65,000 at the lowest.

The job outlook for RN’s is great, with growth at about 15% higher than average. We expect around 500,000 general RN jobs to become available in the next 10 years.

Making Your Decision

When it comes to deciding what kind of RN you want to be, you have at least the first year of nursing school to figure it out. After you find your interest levels and pass your basic classes, you can look into more specializations.

Or, you can start looking from ICU Nurse programs from the beginning. It’s up to you, your motivation, and the level of faith you have in yourself.

If you’re chomping at the bit and ready to save lives, we have some great resources for you. Click here to learn about our ICU nurse education programs.

nursing podcasts

If you want to expand your nursing knowledge but you’re short on time, podcasts will be your new best friends. Podcasts are an amazing tool to learn more about whatever topic you want to delve in.

These podcasts are perfect to listen to when you are cooking, exercising, or getting ready for bed. They also help you avoid burning out from work.

Here are some of the best nursing podcasts that are beneficial to ICU nurses.

Nursecasts

Nursecasts: A Podcast for Nurses By Nurses sheds light on the most difficult subjects for nurses. This engaging program informs people about new topics about the job’s policy.

It also dabbles on education laws and nursing entrepreneurship.

The program helps ICU nurses recognize vital healthcare issues. These include tips to get ahead of their career and policies that have a bearing on the patient’s health.

Joe Morita, the Senior Acquisitions Editor of Springer Publishing Company, hosts it.

Evidence-Based Nursing

Evidence-Based Nursing uses literature research studies to bring focused information to its listeners. This short podcast is suitable for ICU nurses who want to learn relevant matters without having to sacrifice tons of time. It uses actual case files and practical real-world studies to discuss specific topics.

Good Nurse Bad Nurse

Good Nurse Bad Nurse is as interesting as its title. This fun and amusing program highlights one of a kind medical stories. It also stands out due to the host’s famous sense of humor.

The podcast shares two cases per episode. One is an inspirational story, and the other is a mysterious one. Two nurses host the show.

The program also discusses up-to-date events and attention-grabbing topics in the medical field. Some examples of its hit episodes are “Good Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Bad Navy Medic”, and “Work Place Bullying”.

Lab Values Podcast

Being assigned in the ICU does not mean you need to forego all laboratory-related matters.

Whether you want to review your knowledge of compounding, urinalysis, or blood tests, this podcast tackles it. Those who want to listen to this can find it archived in the NRSNG Academy Page.

New Nurse Podcast

New Nurse is famous for being one of the most solid nursing podcasts. This podcast leans towards ICU newbies. It also discusses clinical topics.

Moreover, the host educates her audience about complex subjects in the health industry. It also has a great way of helping listeners grasp topics and techniques about the industry.

Nursing Mnemonics Podcast

The audience of this podcast are students and nurses who are still starting out. However, it is still a hit to those who want to keep on reviewing what they already know.

Using mnemonics is a surefire way of helping people remember things. The Nursing Mnemonics Podcast reminds nurses of what they learned in nursing school.

Produced by the NRSNG podcasting channel, this program presents countless mnemonics. This could be helpful in remembering tasks and key concepts.

Using mnemonics can help you distinguish certain types of sickness. It can even help you remember how to insert intrauterine devices and other more complex nursing techniques.

Nursing Uncensored

If you are trying to find a fun podcast that you can relate to, look no further. Listening to Nursing Chronicles will feel like reading a page from your own diary.

This amusing podcast lets you peek into another side of nursing that you did not know of while you were still in school. In the show, host Adrianne Benning produces an impalpable connection to her guests.

Make sure to get ready for the laugh of a lifetime as you listen to this honest and comical program.

Once A Nurse, Always A Nurse

Nursing educator Leanne Meier heads this podcast.

It discusses issues in nursing and healthcare in general. Once A Nurse, Always A Nurse also offers its listeners a look into human elements that form between patients and professionals.

In her podcast, Meier shares her wisdom as she interviews people from different fields in the industry such as scholars, practitioners, and educators.

It tackles issues such as government policies, including healthcare problems we’re facing today. It also discusses how to deal with conflict in the workplace.

RNFM

RNFM provides its listeners with a vibrant roundtable discussion. It examines the most pressing issues in nursing.

The show is famous for its charismatic hosts such as Ashley Pofit Miller, Sean Dent, and Keith Carlson. This casual podcast will make you feel as if you are having brunch with some of your best nurse friends.

The Drexel Medcast

This nurse podcast currently has 29 episodes. It puts the spotlight on diseases and medical disciplines. In under 20 minutes, it teaches its listeners about a wide array of topics from alternative therapies to allergies.

It also brings the most distinguished experts in the world to supply information. This is a great podcast for people who want to listen but can only spend time for short bursts of information. Most podcasts can go for an hour or two, so it’s good to have a shorter alternative.

The Nurse Practitioner Money Show

In nursing, money matters. In this podcast, Chris Wood interviews leading people in the industry and extracts economic-related lessons from them that a nurse could apply in daily life.

Highlighting the financial side of working as a nurse, this show also teaches nurses where to start if they want to venture on a business, negotiate contracts, cope with loans, and more.

Listen to These Great Nursing Podcasts Now!

These programs are not only a great way to entertain yourself, but they’re also fantastic ways to update yourself on the latest buzz on nursing.

Most nursing podcasts are free and available online.

Making a hobby of listening to a number of these programs every week is guaranteed to help you provide better service.

But don’t stop there. Visit us now and read our other guides. Here’s one to help you to be a better ICU nurse.

SICU Nurse

Are you a nurse looking for a way to take your career to the next level? Consider becoming a SICU nurse.

If you’re already an RN with a couple of years of work experience, you’re already on your way to specializing in a specific area of nursing.

The U.S. is experiencing the start of a nursing boom with about 3 million RNs currently in the U.S. Now is a great time to think of what’s next for your nursing career.

As a Critical Care nurse, you’ll experience more opportunities for advanced patient care. And if nursing and medical technology are interesting to you, SICU nursing gives you access to more technology when caring for patients.

Read on to learn more about the education you’ll need and the job responsibilities that come with being a SICU nurse.

What is ICU?

As an RN, you’re already working in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. Or you might work in a school or nursing care facility.

You’re familiar with the general care of patients. But maybe you’re ready to add more skills and open more opportunities for your career.

The ICU is a place within the hospital for patients who are seriously ill to receive specialized care.

ICU nurses serve a limited number of patients. This is great news for anyone considering advancing into Critical Care. You’re in demand.

Types of ICUs

You have a choice of the type of ICU to continue your nursing career, including:

  • NICU: This is a neonatal intensive care unit. Care here focuses on newborns with critical medical issues demand a high level of monitoring.
  • PICU: A pediatric intensive care unit focuses on the critical care of seriously ill children.
  • TICU: This unit is for patients who have suffered severe injury from penetrating or blunt trauma.
  • SICU: The surgical intensive care unit treats patients who could need surgery or who are recovering from a recent surgery.

Is the SICU Right For You?

If you’re looking for a faster-paced environment than a doctor’s office or other general nursing, the SICU might be the perfect place for you.

You’ll need to be comfortable in an environment that is often chaotic. The SICU is a busy and challenging place to work–in a good way.

Critical Non-Nurse Skills

In addition to being an excellent nurse, the SICU will challenge you in other areas and aptitudes.

Collecting data from reviewing reports, monitoring patients, and listening to other nurses and doctors is a critical skill when caring for critical patients.

You’ll also need to work well within a team. Caring for SICU patients is a team effort between other nurses and doctors.

How well do you anticipate changes? A good SICU nurse can use their experience to notice details leading to changes in a patient’s health status. Acting before a patient suffers a setback is critical.

Even with these skills, one of the most important skills to have as an ICU nurse is confidence. You’ll need to make quick decisions in life or death situations.

Confidence in your nursing skills and your medical knowledge will help you succeed in the SICU.

An Emotional Environment

The SICU is also a unit full of emotions–both highs and lows.

Helping patients immediately out of surgery and through recovery takes an extremely caring individual. You must control emotions when an ICU patient doesn’t recover well, or at all.

But you’ll also share the joy of seeing people go from some of the worst health situations they’ve experienced to leaving the hospital with better health and hope.

As with any nursing role, you’ll regularly interact with a patient’s family members. A calm, caring demeanor during emotional conversations is essential.

The SICU is a rewarding environment. Not only will you develop more advanced skills and medical understanding, but you’ll also positively impact the lives of patients on their worst days.

What Kind of Education Do You Need?

If you’re already a nurse, you know there are a couple of education pathways to become an RN.

One of the quickest ways to become a registered nurse and begin working is through an associate’s degree program. This path allows you to get your RN certification in one to two years.

You can also start with your BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). This is a four-year degree program. While it will take longer to get into the workforce, the BSN sets you up for continuing education beyond your RN certification.

Beyond the RN or BSN

The demands on nurses continue to increase year after year. This means learning new skills and keeping up with trends in nursing is critical as you continue your career.

Hospitals and clinics will have different requirements for pursuing a nursing position in the SICU.

Consider additional certifications when thinking about a career in the SICU. A focus on general patient Critical Care (CCRN) can help put you ahead of other nurses competing for SICU positions in your hospital or area.

You might also consider a Cardiac Surgery (CSC) certification. This allows you to care for adults within the first 48 hours after cardiac surgery.

As you gain more knowledge and practical nursing skills, you might find you want to continue learning.

With a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, the opportunities to learn and advance your nursing career are almost endless.

Your Career as a SICU Nurse is Waiting

Now that you have a little knowledge of what it takes to become a SICU nurse, you’re ready to take your next career step.

Working in a SICU requires high energy and a self-starter personality. If that sounds like you, we encourage you to get started on your next certifications and gain the work experience you need to succeed.

ICUnursingcareers.com is here to help.

We provide helpful industry resources to critical care nurse hopefuls, connecting them to career advancement options through accredited degree programs.

Not finding what you need on our website? Feel free to contact us for additional help or with any questions.

staffing the ICU

While there are more than 3 million registered nurses trained and working in the United States today, there are still shortages. As we see the largest population of elderly people in our history, their needs are taking up a lot of staff. When staffing the ICU, nurses and administrators need to work together to solve the problem.

Here are five ideas for how nurses and facility managers can work together to ensure that ICUs stay properly staffed.

1. Run An Analysis

If you’re dealing with shortages at your ICU, you could be pulling your hair out trying to figure out what the problem is. Perhaps you think you know what the problem is and you want to solve it ASAP. Just like you would for a patient, you need to triage the problems that you have at your ICU.

Create some parameters for an analytic report of where you could be running into problems in your ICU.

The shortages in staffing could come from having inadequate support for your staff, which leads to frustration and burnout. You need to be careful of burnout for all of your staff, as it will lead to poor medical care and dangerous results for your patients.

You could also be expending too many of your resources in the wrong area. Resources need to be allocated to cover events and holiday where you see a spike in visits. You need to streamline intake so that you can provide adequate care that rehabilitates patients quickly.

Keeping one patient on for one day longer than they need to be in your ICU is the start of a backup that could exacerbate a bed shortage.

Since most medical facilities were built in an era with a healthier and smaller population, you need to consider expansion. As part of your analysis, look at whether or not your facility has adequate space.

2. Increase Support

No matter what the conditions are at your facility, you should find new ways to expand support for your staff. Nurses need to have time and space to work as well as support for their own recovery. Overworked staff will make mistakes that could be critical to people dealing with the problems that lead to admission to an ICU.

One of the ways to improve support is to make sure that you’re never short staffed, this means using better scheduling technology. It also means creating a culture of support for one another that will ensure that there is enough care for patients as well as time off for nurses.

If people need childcare, you need to find ways to create resources for that. Many people can’t cover a shift when they have to stay at home and watch young children. If you have a working childcare facility, you could have people come in on short notice.

A facility also needs to provide plenty of vacation. The world of nursing is seeing a shortage in staff which means it’s a worker’s market. They can shop around for the job that will give them the most vacation time.

3. Smart Scheduling Software

When you use smart scheduling software, you can streamline the staffing process at your facility. Smarter scheduling means that you’ll have shifts covered when you need them without having to remember what happened a year before.

Smart scheduling software also allows nursing staff to put in their scheduling limitations in advance. When they have control over their own schedules and can put in their limitations, the person controlling the schedule can easily meet their needs.

Finding the right scheduling software or system takes time but can be invaluable to creating a well-oiled machine of an ICU.

4. Train New Staff Better

Poorly trained staff are more likely to make mistakes. When someone is plagued by mistakes on the job, their morale will be broken. If someone loses their morale about their job, they’ll struggle to excel at it.

When you train your staff well, you give them the opportunity to succeed and find new reasons to love their job.

Well-trained staff will also help to treat patients better. When a staff is well-trained, they’ll help patients to heal faster and rehabilitate quicker. This means that a facility will have more beds open sooner than they would at a place where the staff wasn’t working efficiently.

Take a look at your current training materials and make sure they’re up to all recent changes to HIPAA standards. This will ensure that patient privacy and safety is prioritized and that you can avoid legal trouble.

5. Communicate With Other Hospitals

Space and staffing are major problems that any ICU deals with. If you find yourself running out of space, you need a backup plan.

One way to ensure that you don’t turn anyone away without treatment is that you communicate with other hospitals that might have space. By being in regular conversation with other facilities, you can warn each other of outbreaks or anything that could disrupt your ICU.

If you’re constantly dealing with staff shortages, you need to find alternate ways to staff. There are staffing specialists that can send nurses out to you when you hit a shortage. This can be pricier than hiring full-time staff but allows facilities to be flexible in times of growth.

Staffing the ICU Is a Solvable Challenge

While it will take some work for facilities to come up with solutions for staffing the ICU, it’s a problem that can be solved. With the help of technology and telemedicine, more information can be shared more quickly between patients and staff to improve care. AI will soon be able to take away some of the busy work that nurses need to do so that the nursing shortage can be eliminated.

If you’re an ICU nurse or running a facility, check out our guide for the ways that ICU nurses seek to expand their careers.

Travel Nursing: Is it right for you?

Are you an adventurer at heart?

What if the idea of settling down and living in the same town your whole life doesn’t appeal to you? Maybe it’s time to look into something that will give you the opportunity to move around a little.

Are you considering joining the ranks of the approximately 25,000 travel nurses in the US? Take a moment to learn about travel nursing to see if this career path would be a good option for you.

What Is Travel Nursing?

Hospitals have constantly changing staffing needs. Nurses come and go. They take time off for continuing education. They may need maternity or paternity leave for a few weeks. Demand for services rises and falls.

Hiring new employees can be an unnecessary expense for a hospital. Especially when they know they’re only going to need the help for a few weeks. Without a flexible option, many hospitals may just choose to go understaffed for that time and hope their other employees can take up the slack.

That’s not really a good idea for obvious reasons and thus the world of travel nursing has arisen. Hospitals work with staffing agencies to find capable employees for a certain amount of time.

As a travel nurse, you can join one of these staffing agencies and have your pick of available positions needing to be filled.

Pros

There are both pros and cons to this flexible style of work. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Growth

Since travel nurses are required to get the hang of different hospitals rather quickly, having well-rounded nursing experience is a must. If you have a very limited specialty, you may find it difficult to do well in the travel nursing world. Thus, preparing for the transition to travel nursing will require a bit of study.

Plus, once you get started you’ll grow and learn things hands-on that other nurses may never get the chance to do. You’ll fulfill different roles at each of your jobs so you’ll learn a little about many different specialties in the field of nursing. You’ll never feel like you’re stuck in a rut with travel nursing.

Flexibility

Travel nursing is very flexible. You can choose where you want to live and have a lot of control over your daily schedule. (Depending on job availability, of course).

For the most part, you work out your days off and scheduling at the start of your contract.

Adventure

Having the freedom to move around is priceless for the adventurer at heart. If you love seeing new places and don’t want to be tied down to a particular city, travel nursing could be perfect for you.

Cons

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Some aspects of travel nursing are hard and downright off-putting. Let’s look at a few cons.

Instability

Travel nurses do enjoy some stability from the staffing agency. The agency tends to handle their benefits packages and even housing and licensing costs.

However, the lifestyle itself is rather unstable. Moving around a lot can be fun and adventurous for a time. After a while, it may feel unstable and exhausting to always be entering a new position.

However, not all travel nursing contracts are short term. You could take a long-term contract here and there to give yourself a break from the constant state of flux.

Lack of Long-term Relationships

When you’re always moving around, it’s hard to maintain quality long-term relationships. Your coworkers are always changing and you can’t pack up all your friends and take them with you.

However, if your spouse works online or has similar flexibility, you may be able to move around together. Once you throw kids into the mix that can get a little tougher. But all sorts of families with the right sense of adventure can make this lifestyle work!

No Paid Time Off

Travel nursing is flexible and you can take time off virtually whenever you want. The downside is that it’s very unlikely you’ll be paid for it. Very few companies include paid time off in their travel nurse benefits packages.

Demand

You may wonder if there will always be work available. The demand for travel nurses only appears to be going up. In fact, some agencies report that they don’t have enough people to fill all the positions they have available.

Salary Potential

But the big question always is, “how much money can I make?” The short answer is that travel nursing can be a very lucrative career. The range is large but at the top end, you could be making $100,000 a year. Let’s look at why.

Hospitals will pay well for an experienced travel nurse. You’re helping them cut costs by not having to hire another full-time employee so they can afford to offer a bit more.

Plus, the position comes with a lot of perks and benefits. The staffing agency typically takes care of your health insurance, retirement benefits, and bonuses. You also may qualify for a number of deals and discounts. Plus, you often have your housing provided and paid for (a huge savings!).

Then there are all the tax breaks you can take advantage of as a travel nurse. You put it all together and you can make a tidy living being a travel nurse.

Is Travel Nursing for You?

What do you think? Is travel nursing for you? Only you can decide if this type of lifestyle would work for you.

The great thing about such a flexible job is that you can try it out for a while and see how it goes! You can even use travel nursing as a way to visit new cities and look for a new job. Some hospitals end up hiring on travel nurses after seeing how they are such a good fit.

Or you may fall in love with the freedom and spend your career city hopping around the United States. It’s up to you!

For more information about getting the right education to become a travel nurse, feel free to check out our resources.

2019's Best Online Clinical Programs

Are you one of the 3.9 million nurses in America?

Working in the healthcare industry is more than a job, it’s a calling. Somehow you always knew you’d end up helping people.

Once you become a nurse, you’ll have countless career paths you can take. If you’re someone who works well under pressure, you should advance into the role of an Intensive Care Unit professional.

Every year the United States admits over 5 million ICU patients. Hospitals across the country are in need of more intensive care nurses and they’re willing to pay.

Starting off as an ICU nurse can make anywhere from $47,000 to $94,000 a year. Besides a healthy paycheck, ICU nurses also enjoy being able to focus their care on only a few patients at a time. Patients facing life-threatening conditions who need you to help them return home.

Are you an aspiring or current nurse looking to advance? Read on to learn about online clinical programs for your professional ICU nursing career.

Finding the Best Online Clinical Programs

You can find online clinical programs for every level of degree. Whatever reason you’re looking into furthering your education, you have to create a plan. Tailoring your education helps when you’re searching for specific job roles.

Here’s a short list of the different critical care areas of practice:

  • Pediatrics
  • Neonatal
  • ICU for adults

Once you know what area of practice you like, you can start planning your education. Critical care nurses don’t have to follow one straight path to reach their career goals.

Here are a few specific job roles that exist in critical care centers:

  • Transport specialist
  • Pulmonary specialist
  • Director of ICU unit
  • Bioinformatician
  • Clinical Educator
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Registered nurse

Establishing a career as an ICU nurse or critical caregiver requires extensive education. Next, we’ll explain the different online programs you can pursue.

What Path’s Right for You?

Before you choose the ideal ICU nursing position, you have to pick an education path. You can always start off with a certificate and later choose to further your education.

The three different education paths include:

  1. Bachelor degree
  2. Master degree
  3. Certificate

ICU professionals looking to advance their career can pick all 3 choices. Taking the courses online will allow you the free time you need to create a work, life, and school balance.

If you’re passionate about a specific area, then a master’s degree could be the best option. Coupled with certifications, you’ll be the prime choice for any employment opportunity.

If you’re brand new to the field, you may choose all 3 options. Help yourself save time by establishing your desired outcome. Where do you want to be 5 years from now? What department do you see yourself thriving in?

Allow your mind to envision where you’d be the happiest. Next, you can start taking actions to help get you where you want to be. Let’s look at how getting a bachelors can help open up new career pathways.

Bachelor’s Degree

For a comprehensive education, start with a bachelor’s degree. Before earning your bachelors, you’ll begin by earning your associates.

There are also LPN and VPN courses you can take to receive your nursing license. Every critical care nurse has to attend nursing school and get their nursing license.

To become an RN you’ll have to at least have your associate’s degree. When you’re ready to advance your career, bachelors will be the next step.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing) is a type of undergraduate degree. Some of the areas you’ll specialize in include:

  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Public health updates
  • Promotion topics
  • Health informatics
  • Research techniques

Plan on completing your BSN in as little as 16 months. The curriculum centers around teaching you things you can apply in the field of nursing.

Nurses who hold a BSN from an accredited school are eligible to take the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX exam is a need if you want to become a Registered Nurse. It’s common for nurses with a BSN to make more money and have better responsibilities.

Master’s of Science in Nursing

A Master’s of Science in Nursing or MSN is a graduate level degree. ICU professionals should plan on obtaining their master’s degree.

The MSN course load will continue from where the bachelor classes left off. Here are a few of the MSN courses you can plan on taking:

You’ll take part in courses where you’ll:

  • Speak with qualified faculty members
  • Learn practical applications
  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Practice leadership

You can choose a specialized MSN degree to customize your career even more. Here are a few of the specializations you’ll have to choose from:

  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing management
  • Executive leadership

If you have a bachelors in one area but want your masters in another, you can do that as well. Let’s look at your online certification options as an ICU professional.

Online Certifications

Is your master’s degree going to be different from your bachelors? A certification could help fill the gap. They are also helpful if you’re interested in a particular area, but aren’t ready to go back for your masters.

Here are a few online certification programs you can look into.

Emergency Preparedness

No matter what stage your career is in, an emergency preparedness certificate can help. Students will learn about risk, disaster, and, crisis management skills.

Health Management and Policy

Do you feel like being a nurse is a part of your identity? Individuals wanting to influence policy development need health education and promotion certification.

You’ll learn how to have the skills to assess current practices. You’ll also find out how to recommend appropriate changes.

Choose Your Programs

Now you know more about the best online clinical programs. ICU Nursing Careers is here to help you on your educational path.

We are on a mission to help nurses grow by finding the degree that will serve them the most. Our featured online degree programs fit a variety of lifestyles and career goals.

We would love to help you find answers to all your nursing questions. Check out our FAQ page, and find the information you need to make the right choice.

5 Netflix Picks for ICU Nurses

There are almost 3 million nurses in the U.S. Every last one of them works hard at work worth doing, but ICU nurses’ jobs are especially difficult. They’re entrusted with the protection of critically ill and injured patients who require around-the-clock care.

It’s not an easy gig. That means most nurses who work in the intensive care unit need to unwind when they get home from work. Critical care nurses need to shed those scrubs, pop open some wine, and tune into a medical drama in the evening.

Read on for a list of the top 5 best things on Netflix for an ICU nurse to tune into!

Top 5 Netflix Shows for ICU Nurses

This list will cover all the best Netflix hospital shows and Netflix medical dramas. It’ll also suggest a few addicting shows to get your mind off your industry. After a long, hard day at the hospital, sometimes that’s welcome!

Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy is a classic hospital show. It’s loved by millions of Americans, whether they work in the medical field or not.

It’s won tons of awards, including an Emmy, a People’s Choice award, and a Grammy nomination. It’s consistently met with favor by critics. You can usually find Grey’s on many critics’ top-ten lists of the best television shows at the end of the year.

Grey’s Anatomy first premiered in 2005. It follows the professional and personal lives of a hospital staff in Seattle. It includes doctors, surgeons, physician’s assistants, and interns.

It’s currently in its fifteenth season. All fourteen prior seasons are ready to be binged on Netflix!

It’s particularly celebrated because of its color-blind cast. Many modern American television shows have been accused of whitewashing. This includes a failure to represent human diversity in a cast, including women and LGBT characters as well as racial groups.

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife is the perfect solution for those who want to watch something generally related to the medical field, but not in the modern, relatable sense. If you get home from work and the last thing you want to see is another version of the same place you just left, Call the Midwife may be for you.

It’s a period drama set in the 1950s/1960s in East London. The show was created around Jennifer Worth’s memoirs. She worked within an Anglican nursing order in the community of St. John the Divine.

Although the show is based on Worth’s memoirs, it’s been expanded past them to create new material. It follows a group of midwives during a crucial time in world history. You get to see how they deal with the post-war baby boom, the threat of nuclear war, and the introduction of birth contraceptives.

The Night Shift

If you or someone close to you is a veteran, you’ll love The Night Shift. It follows a group of Emergency Room doctors in Texas who all work the high-stakes night shift together. Many of the doctors have connections to the U.S. military.

One doctor has to deal with PTSD while on the job. Many veterans can relate to his struggles adapting to post-war life while dealing with PTSD.

Another doctor used to be an army medic. He struggles to adapt his army medic skillset to a whole new set of challenges as an Emergency Room doctor.

Another doctor is actually still active as an army medic, but deals with a different set of challenges on the home front: his homosexuality. He won’t come out as homosexual due to his fear of being treated differently. This is an all-too-relatable concern for many Americans today.

Nurse Jackie

Everyone loves harrowing tales about drugs. There’s just something about these stories that capture the American attention. For instance, 10.3 million people tuned into the series finale of Breaking Bad, a story about a man who starts cooking meth to pay for his hospital bills.

Nurse Jackie runs in the same vein. It’s a very different story, but still deals with themes of drug abuse.

Nurse Jackie follows the life of Jackie Peyton, a nurse at All Saint’s Hospital in New York City. Jackie is a great nurse, except for one thing: she’s addicted to drugs.

If you want to a drama/comedy that takes place in an alternate version of your own world, Nurse Jackie is your bet. She’ll keep you on the edge of your seat as you speculate how she’ll get herself out of this one.

Luckily, all seven seasons are on Netflix for you to enjoy. Pretty soon your TV will be hot from the binge-watch, and you’ll be laughing your way to work in the morning.

Gossip Girl

This show has nothing to do with the medical field, but it made the list because it’s so very addicting. It follows a group of teen socialites in New York City. They’re navigating the world of relationships, drugs, alcohol, school, parents, and everything else under the sun a teen deals with.

This is a great pick for those who get home from the hospital and don’t want to think about the hospital again until your next shift. Sometimes, you just need to check out of your own reality for a little while. Engrossing social drama shows like Gossip Girl can help.

This is partly due to the fact that we can’t all relate to the woes of the characters of this show. They’re members of the wealthy elite, which is always fascinating to lower and upper-middle-class Americans. It’s fun to immerse yourself in a new world in which you can’t identify yourself.

A Hard Day’s Work

Calling all ICU nurses getting off of work right now! Now you’ve read up on the list of must-sees for everyone in your profession.

Maybe you love watching dramatic (or relatable!) interpretations of your industry. Maybe you just want to relax to a show that has nothing to do with it. Either way, we’ve got your picks.

Grab some popcorn, pour a glass of wine, and get watching!

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of a long day spent doing good work. Want to feel that yourself? Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you become an ICU nurse today!

Career Spotlight: Critical Care RN

Often times in the media, television or movies the glory goes to the surgeons, but you never really wanted to be a surgeon–you wanted to be a nurse.

And that’s a big deal because nurses are vital to the healthcare system.

As a critical care RN, you’ll be caring for patients at major moments in their lives. It’s a hard job, but it’s also rewarding to be the person a patient and family can rely upon. That’s why we’re breaking down everything you need to know about becoming a critical care nurse, from what they do to how to become one.

What is a Critical Care RN?

First, you need to understand what a critical care RN is.

Often referred to as an ICU nurse, a critical care nurse is a type of nurse providing care to patients in critical condition due to injuries or severe illness.

They may care for adults or children, depending on where they work or their specialty. Some CCRNs work in units or wards caring for patients with specific medical problems, like a burn unit.

Responsibilities of a Critical Care Nurse

And, what does a critical care nurse actually do?

That often depends on the nurse. You could say that they combine the duties of a traditional nurse and emergency nurse, in that they administer basic patient care while also tending to emergency medical situations.

What it boils down to is that you’ll be responsible for the care of critical patients, often individuals who are toeing the line between life and death. As such, you’ll have to carefully monitor any changes so that you can continue to treat them properly.

Common duties of a CCRN include:

  • Assessing a patient’s condition in order to implement patient care plans
  • Providing advanced life support
  • Treating wounds
  • Observing and recording vital signs
  • Ensuring that monitors, ventilators, and other equipment are functioning properly
  • Ordering diagnostic tests
  • Assisting physicians with procedures
  • Responding to life-threatening situations using appropriate nursing protocol

In addition, you’ll collaborate with a patient’s critical care team in order to discern how best to treat a patient. You’ll also act as a key advocate for the patient, as well as a support system and educator for the patient’s family.

Where They Work

In terms of where critical care nurses work, the name says it all.

Most of the time, critical care nurses work in hospitals with critical or intensive care units, sometimes in units with a specific focus like:

  • Burn units
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Trauma
  • Psychiatric intensive care wards
  • Medical ICU
  • Surgical ICU
  • Neurological ICU
  • Pediatric ICU
  • Transplant ICU
  • Coronary ICU
  • Cardiovascular ICU

Typically, nurses receive specialized training in order to work in a specialized unit.

That said, not all CCRNs work in hospitals–some work as transport nurses, accompanying critical patients to facilities that are better equipped to treat them.

What They Earn

Given the intensity of their jobs–long hours in physically and mentally demanding situations–critical care nurses are generally well paid for their work.

The national average CCRN salary is around $75,832 per year, with the lowest-earning nurses bringing in about $63K per year and the highest-earning nurses bringing in $93K.

Keep in mind that salaries will vary based on your experience level, specialized training, work environment, and what state you live in. For a closer look at ICU nurse salaries by region, click here.

Job Outlook

Employment for registered nurses is expected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026, much higher than the national average.

This is likely due to the aging population of Baby Boomers, given that older people typically have more medical problems than younger people. The demand for nurses who can care for chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease will be especially high.

How to Become a Critical Care RN

If all of this sounds exciting to you, maybe you should think about becoming a critical care nurse. Here’s how to do it.

Personal Qualities

Before you start pursuing education, you should first assess whether you have the qualities that make a successful critical care nurse.

First and foremost, you should have compassion. You’re going to spend long hours caring for the sick and injured, which means you should need to be able to empathize with a patient’s pain and be strongly driven to make their hospital experience as positive as possible.

You’ll also need strong critical thinking skills and attention to detail. Your decisions as a nurse can have far-reaching consequences, and you’ll be asked to make major decisions on a daily basis. Even the smallest error can have tragic results, so you need to be adept at quickly seeing the big picture 24/7.

CCRNs also need to be learners. Most RNs are exposed to critical care units in nursing school, but the real learning comes later when you’re on the job and caring for patients in real time.

Education

If that sounds like you, it’s time to think about what kind of education you need to pursue your career.

You’ll first need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. A degree in the sciences, medicine, or public health will often serve you well here. From there, most CCRNs attend nursing school so that they can pursue professional certification.

CCRN Certification

Once you’ve completed nursing school, you can start pursuing your CCRN certification.

To do this, you’ll need a current RN license in good standing as well as one of the two following practice requirements:

  1. Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours in the direct care of critically ill adult patients over the past two years
  2. Practice as an RN or APRN for at least five years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in the direct care of critically ill adult patients

These hours must be completed in an American or Canadian care facility in order to qualify for the US standard.

Ready to Become a Critical Care RN?

Think you’re ready to launch your career as a critical care RN?

We’re here to help you do it.

Click here to check out education options. If you’ve already completed your education and are looking for a job, check out our Find a Job tool.