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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

8 Benefits of Earning Your Master's in 2019

In today’s job market, a bachelor’s degree won’t cut it. Sure, it’s possible to get a job–especially in nursing where demand is always high. But what do you get with that degree?

You get long shifts, low wages, condescending doctors, and no say in how healthcare is dispensed–despite being the primary dispensary. I know it’s your passion. You’d be a nurse regardless of wages or long hours.

But what if you could work smarter and not harder? What if you got your Master’s?

8% of the population’s already done it. Most projections indicate that in four years 18% of all jobs will require a master’s degree, nursing chief among them.

But maybe you don’t have the time. Maybe you don’t have the money. Maybe you don’t think it’s worth it.

Well, it is. And I can give you eight reasons why.

Faster Achievement

Getting an MSN, a Master’s of Science in Nursing, used to be difficult. It took three to four years, cost a small fortune, and took you away from work. Nowadays, that’s not the case.

Many MSN programs are now online, allowing you to keep working. You can complete many of them in eighteen months to two years. Some even have accelerated programs you can finish in a year.

An MSN is still expensive; I won’t deny that, but there are ways to reduce costs. Transferable credits from previous studies will limit the number of classes you have to take. You can also get discounts if you’re a veteran, and you can apply for scholarships or grants offered by the university.

Better Pay

What’s better than making more money? Top earners with an MSN bring in around $96,000, depending on their role and region.

Compare that to the average RN salary, around $67,000, and the difference is noticeable. Money may not buy happiness, but it helps, especially if you have a family. Plus, you can recoup the cost of getting your MSN in the first place.

Better Career Options

Let’s face it, BSN nurses have a ceiling. Yes, they dabble in all areas of medicine, but they don’t have many advancement options. When not with patients, they spend their time managing stress or avoiding burnout.

An MSN nurse, however, has a better chance of upward mobility. Like a doctor, an MSN nurse can specialize in a field of interest, such as mental health or family practitioner.

Nurses with an MSN can also get into management. You can set schedules, your own plus the nurses who work for you and shape hospital policy. You can even teach nursing if you wanted.

Better Hours

A nursing shift takes a lot out of you. There’s the typical eight hour day plus overtime or even volunteer hours. At the end of it all, you’re wiped out.

Then the next day comes, and you have to do it all over again. An MSN nurse can get a little more flexibility. There are no guarantees, of course.

Who knows, you may even like the long hours. They will certainly make you better at your job.

But if you wanted to take a vacation, spend more time with family, you’ll have an easier time getting that time as an MSN.

More Autonomy

There’s nothing worse than having some doctor breathing down your neck, trying to tell you how to do your job. No one likes being micromanaged.

Yes, you’ll still have a boss, but your advanced degree will allow you more independence. You can make health care decisions on your own. Plus, you won’t have someone questioning your choices at every turn.

More Knowledge

An advanced degree makes you smarter. Period. You learn more about your field, and you get better at what you do.

You can make more informed decisions, educate others, and be a better nurse. You get the personal satisfaction of working hard for something worthwhile.

The Chance to Shape Healthcare Policy

An MSN gives you a wider range of responsibilities. Your role will be about the quality of healthcare delivery rather than the actual delivery itself.

You can implement new policies and procedures based on your knowledge. You can design a patient’s medical care and see how they’re treated at the hospital. You can have your hand on the wheel of your industry’s future.

The Chance to Be a Doctor…of Nursing

True, it’s not the same as an MD, but a Ph.D. will make you a doctor. You’d have to go to school again and a Nursing Ph.D. is research focused.

But it comes with its own benefits. As a Ph.D. you are recognized as an expert in your field. You have greater control over healthcare policy and even more opportunities to advance your career.

You can even start a practice. But you can’t get to that step without obtaining a master’s degree.

Where Can You Get Started on Your Master’s?

Let’s recap. A master’s in nursing will get you a higher paycheck, better hours, more autonomy, more knowledge, an upward trajectory, and the chance to go even higher with a doctorate. Plus, it’ll put you at the forefront of your field.

I think the only question now is where do you sign up? There are hundreds of universities offering master’s programs.

Some offer specialty training. Some don’t have online programs. How do you choose?

Let us help you. At ICU Nurse we have everything you need to advance your career. From articles that help you get through the day to a list of the best MSN program schools, we’ve got it all.

Log on to our site today. We can’t wait to help you become a better nurse.

Working in the ICU

Every year, intensive care units (ICUs) in the United States admit over 5.7 million patients.

No wonder then that there was a 15% growth in the number of ICU beds from 2000 to 2009! From the reported 67,579 beds back in 2000, it has grown to 77,809 beds in less than a decade.

This shows how vital ICUs are to health care. In fact, of the $3.5 trillion health care spending in 2017, a large portion went to ICU costs.

These figures alone already tell you how hectic the schedule of nurses working in the ICU is. Despite that, many of the more than 3.38 million registered nursesin the country still work in ICUs.

That’s because there are plenty of reasons to love about being an intensive care nurse. We’re here to share with you five (plus a bonus!) of them, so make sure you keep reading!

1. A Highly Specialized Field

Intensive Care or Critical Care units are highly specialized hospital departments. For starters, they focus on certain patients and specific health and medical conditions.

Granted, ICUs and CCUs have generic unit names that are interchangeable. But they still often have separate units handling a specific patient population.

There’s the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), for instance. Here, newborns needing specialized care receive treatment standard hospital settings can’t give them.

Another example is the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU). As the name suggests, this is the specific ICU for patients who had complicated surgery.

ICU nursing staff members also have more specialized medical knowledge. This greater knowledge allows them to carry out advanced life-saving techniques.

They also have a more comprehensive understanding of complex equipment. They’re adept at using ventilators, cardiac monitors, and intracranial pressure monitoring devices.

The bottom line is, ICU practice areas and specialties come in many different forms. That means you have plenty of options you can choose from to further your RN career.

2. One to Two Patients-to-Nurse Ratio

ICUs aim to provide greater intensity, high acuity medical care. After all, patients in these hospital departments suffer from unstable health. That then makes their health even more unpredictable than most other patients.

It’s for this reason that critical care nurses monitor their patients 24/7. Their patients need a high level of constant care, so there should always be a nurse to watch over patients. As such, ICU nurses often only work with one to two patients at any given time.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have more free time than floor nurses. Again, ICU patients have more complex medical and health care needs. However, this concentrated care allows you to deliver only the best care to your patients.

3. Opportunity to Witness the Amazing Recovery of Patients

Given their life-threatening condition, CCU and ICU patients traditionally had high mortality rates. But serious advancements in medicine and technology have pushed these rates down.

We also have the hard-working ICU staff to thank for these lower ICU mortality rates. Through their expertise and focus on patient care, they help improve patient survival.

It’s nothing short of amazing to see a patient survive and recover from a serious health ordeal. But it’s even more rewarding if you had a contribution to the survival and recovery of patients. That’s one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as an ICU nurse.

4. Empower Patients and Their Families

There’s a certain feeling of fulfillment when you know you’re giving excellent care. But that isn’t the only gratifying experience you’ll have when you become an ICU nurse.

It also gives you the chance to form deeper connections with patients and their families. This is especially true in the case of the latter.

Keep in mind that most critical care patients spend their time unconscious. As such, it’s their loved ones that ICU nursing staff communicate with the most.

The ability to comfort the family and friends of patients is an enriching experience. Their loved one may be in critical condition, but the simple act of showing you care can be enough to empower them.

5. A Challenging Career

The health of ICU patients is always fluctuating. That’s why it’s far more common for them to experience “code” situations.

Because of their patient’s circumstances, critical care nurses face challenges on daily basis. That makes it a must for ICU nurses to have the ability to keep their cool at all times. Especially during these “code” or emergency situations.

This is one of the reasons that becoming an ICU nurse can help improve your critical thinking skills. You’ll learn how to always be on your toes and make quick but sound decisions.

Also, since you’re constantly monitoring your patients, your mental acuity will also improve. You’ll be able to hone your focus and concentration even more.

If constant change is something you live for, then a career in an ICU or CCU may be right for you.

A Much-Welcome Bonus: The Financial Rewards

With all that’s required of ICU nurses, it goes without saying they earn quite a lot. On average, these specialist nurses make $75,832 every year. Some, based on experience and location, earn an ICU nurse salary of $93,000 or higher.

What’s more, the BLS projects a 15% growth in all RN employment sectors come 2026. That’s more than twice the average growth rate for all occupations! Simply put, that means you have more job opportunities in the ICU nursing department.

Make a Difference by Working in the ICU

If the reasons above are things you live for, then working in the ICU may be a great career choice for you. Besides, there will always be a constant demand for specialty nurses. This is especially true those who have the skills and aptitude to provide critical care.

One more thing: The country is experiencing a shortage of nurses. That’s another good reason you should consider furthering your RN career.

If you believe you have what it takes to become an ICU nurse, take the next step now and pursue a specialization.

The CCRN: Credential and Job Potential

As we continue to face a national nursing shortage, America needs nurses now more than ever before.

Maybe you’re interested in becoming a nurse, and working in the intensive care unit especially appeals to you.

Perhaps you’re already working as an RN, and want to learn more about how you can improve your credentials and earn a higher salary.

If you’re thinking about getting your CCRN credential, it’s important that you know what to expect. Keep on reading this post to learn more about what it takes to get your CCRN certification.

We’ll tell you what it is, why it matters, and what the process will look like.

What Is Critical Care Nursing?

If you’re thinking of becoming a critical care nurse, you need to ensure that you fully understand what the job will entail.

You may also have heard a CCRN referred to as an “ICU nurse.” As the name implies, you’ll primarily work with patients who are in critical conditions or more specific critical care issues.

You’ll help doctors to monitor patients who are in the ICU, take their vital signs, and monitor their oxygen levels. However, because these patients are in critical condition, not only will you need to take these signs more often, the stakes will also be much higher.

You’ll need to learn to become familiar with a wide variety of medical equipment and be able to deal with high-pressure and even psychologically intensesituations.

In some cases, you will need to interact directly with a critical care patient’s loved ones. You’ll need to have difficult conversations, calmly explain the options available to them, and more.

You’ll also need to know the signs of a sudden change in condition, and how to perform immediate patient assessments if needed. You will also be trained in life-saving techniques and equipment.

What to Expect from the Critical Care Nursing Certification

Now, let’s quickly talk about what you can expect when it comes to the CCRN certification requirements.

You’ll receive CCRN-specific training, which means you’ll be able to work in trauma units, transport units of critical care patients, cardiac care units, and other types of ICUs.

You’ll need to have a current and unencumbered American RN or APRN license in order to get your CCRN certification.

You can choose between one of two clinical practice requirements.

The first requires you to work as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours. You’ll need to have spent at least 875 hours in the past year before applying for CCRN certification working with critically ill patients.

You can also choose to work as an RN or an APRN for five years, and have earned 2,000 hours of caring for critically ill patients. Keep in mind that at least 144 of the hours will need to have taken place within the year that you’ve applied for your CCRN certification.

You’ll be able to take your CCRN exam on a computer, and there are countless testing centers where you can schedule an appointment. The exam will take about three hours in total, and will consist of 125 scored questions.

The good news is that you won’t need to wait for your results. You’ll be able to see if you’ve passed immediately after you finish the test.

Once you’ve passed your CCRN exam, your CCRN certificate will be valid for three years. If you’d like to renew it, you’ll need to either retake your exam or meet specific continuing education requirements.

The Benefits of CCRN Certification

It goes without saying that getting your CCRN certification, and passing your nursing exam, will require a lot of work.

So, we understand why you want to learn more about the many benefits of getting certified to work as a critical care nurse.

First of all, getting certified means that you’ll be able to provide a higher level of patient care. You may even be able to save a life using the skills you picked up from your CCRN certification training.

It’s also a way to make yourself stand out to potential employers, and of course, have the chance to earn a higher salary.

Keep in mind that certification is also important when it comes to the public perception of nurses. In today’s world, patients and their families are much more aware of certification options and requirements than they were in the past.

They want to know that their family member is being taken care of by someone who has both the skills and the bedside manner to truly help them. Additionally, becoming certified will help you to feel more confident about the decisions you make in the intensive care unit and beyond.

Plus, getting your certification also allows you to establish yourself as a leader for other nurses to look up to. It shows a commitment to your hospital, your team, and of course, the patients that you serve.

Ready to Get Your CCRN Credential?

We hope that this post has helped you to better understand what you can expect when it comes to earning your CCRN credential.

As you’ve learned, there are countless benefits to becoming a critical care nurse. Of course, the job also comes with its own unique and often intense set of professional and personal responsibilities.

However, the chance to develop your skill set and save lives makes this hard work well worth it.

Looking to learn more about how to get a CCRN credential? Want to understand how you can start to pursue a nursing degree and jumpstart your career?

We want to help you to get the job of your dreams.

nurse educator

Nurse educators have the important task of preparing and mentoring tomorrow’s nurses. These educators play a critical role in strengthening the nursing profession.

A nurse educator is a registered nurse (RN) who has an advanced degree that allows them to teach in nursing schools and teaching hospitals. It’s a rewarding profession for those wishing to combine their love of nursing with education.

Read more to learn about this rewarding career.

The Role of a Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are responsible for training the future nurses of the world. In addition to teaching, many educators also work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, or other clinical settings.

A nurse educator should have strong leadership abilities, excellent communication skills, and comprehensive knowledge of their nursing field. They are responsible for designing, updating, evaluating, and implementing new and current nursing curriculum.

Nurse educators serve as role models and advisers for students who are working towards an RN degree. They combine their clinical expertise and passion for teaching into a noble and rewarding career.

They are essential for assuring a comprehensive, quality educational experience that prepares nursing students for important work in the ever-changing healthcare field. They are leaders on the cutting edge of the nursing profession who teach students what they know and guide them throughout the learning process.

In addition to teaching nursing students, nurse educators who work in an academic setting have other responsibilities, including:

  • Research or other scholarly work
  • Advising students
  • Speaking at Conferences
  • Participating in professional nursing associations
  • Peer review
  • Writing grant proposals
  • Documenting outcomes of educational processes
  • Overseeing students’ clinical practice
  • Participating in leadership roles in the community

Education Requirements

Nurse educators must have a strong clinical background as well as strong communication and critical thinking skills. They should be experts in their area of instruction and stay up-to-date with the latest trends, development, and technologies in medical care.

If you want to become a nurse educator, you must first earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. After obtaining this degree, you can take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse.

To become a nurse educator, you must earn an advanced degree. Options include a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (Ph.D.).

Work Opportunities

Nurse educators work in a variety of settings. These include:

  • Colleges and universities
  • Community or junior colleges
  • Technical colleges
  • Community health centers
  • Hospitals
  • Home health agencies
  • Online teaching
  • Long-term care facilities
  • High schools

In the school setting, there are many options. You can teach at a rural or urban campus, a small community college, a large university, a teaching hospital, and more. Every community needs nurses, so the options for employment are wide.

Job Outlook

Nursing education careers continue to be in high demand. The U.S. Department of Labor states that over 1 million RNs will be needed by 2020.

As baby boomers age and people are living longer than ever before, many communities face nursing shortages. The U.S. needs more nurses, especially ICU nurses who handle critical care cases.

And as the need for nurses grows, so does the need for nursing educators.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, post-secondary nursing teachers will see a 19% growth in employment through 2024. This is higher than the average growth rate.


The average salary for nursing educators was $73, 150 in 2015. This number varies, however, depending on location and clinical and teaching experience.

Teachers usually work on a nine-month contract. Summer teaching pay is in addition to a nine-month salary.

Salaries for educators with doctorate degrees tend to be higher than those with master’s degrees. Administrative positions also offer an opportunity for higher pay.

Many nursing educators earn income teaching and caring for patients in a clinical setting. Because nurses can earn more in a clinical setting than through teaching, colleges and universities are offering higher, more competitive pay to attract nursing educators.

Job Satisfaction

Typically, nursing educators are pleased with their job. They describe a high level of satisfaction in working and interacting with students and watching them grow in skill and confidence.

They feel they are contributing something valuable to society by preparing the nurses of the future. Other benefits of the job include:

  • A good salary
  • Access to cutting-edge research
  • The opportunity to work with other health professionals
  • A stimulating work environment
  • Many employment opportunities
  • Flexible work schedule

Nursing educators are in high demand, and this is helpful for job security in the field. This allows many educators to maintain a dual role and receive a dual income as a teacher and patient care provider.

A Teacher and Role Model

Nursing is a challenging profession, and nursing school is the first real challenge on the road to a rewarding career in healthcare. Nurse educators understand this and want to share their knowledge with aspiring nurses.

A nursing educator must have extensive knowledge of nursing theories and be able to explain them in a way students will understand. They must be skilled in basic and advanced nursing practices and able to effectively demonstrate these practices to your students.

These educators are teachers and role models for nursing students. And they should possess a passion for excellence in their field.

Every community needs nurses, and for those nurses to be great at what they do, they need excellent teachers. A nurse educator should be excited to share what they know and see nursing students learn and become well-trained professionals in the healthcare industry.

If you are interested in becoming an ICU nurse or future nursing educator, take a look at the helpful career information on our website.

Online Nursing Program

6.5 million American students took an online course last year. That number has steadily increased each year. Nursing students are notoriously busy, which makes online learning an attractive option.

Are you prepared for all that online learning entails?

Taking an online course is very different from being in class or in the lab. There’s no one making sure you’re paying attention. It’s a test of your ability to manage your time.

With so many students going this route, there’s a lot of data on what works and what doesn’t. Keep reading for 7 tips to succeed in your online nursing program.

1. Don’t Assume It’ll Be Easy

Many students incorrectly assume that online classes will be easy. After all, you choose when you want to work on it. And, it’s only reading the textbook and watching videos, right?


Go into this online nursing program knowing it’s convenient, but not easy. You will have to teach yourself a new style of learning. Students must hold themselves accountable and take the initiative to study.

People who are kinesthetic learners may struggle with online courses. They’re very reading-heavy along with videos and live chats. You’ll be sedentary for the entire time.

Online learning forces students to become self-disciplined. If you don’t study and make yourself focus, you could fail.

2. Connect with Other Students

Online learning sometimes lacks the social community found in classrooms on campus. If you’re someone who needs this interaction, go out of your way to find it.

Your online program will have many students from all over the country logging in. Consider reaching out to them to see if any live in your city. Create in-person study groups with fellow students.

When the course has live chats and discussions, make sure you join in. The students that stay silent don’t do as well as the ones that participate. This is also how you’ll make connections with other students.

3. Create Organizational Systems

It can be a struggle to transfer your in-person study skills to an online course. You normally take notes as the teacher talks. Now, the teacher may be a video, textbook, or live chat.

You need to create organizational systems that work for you. For example, take notes online by splitting the screen in half. Apps like Microsoft OneNote and Evernote make this easier.

Or, continue to take notes on paper. Whether you prefer digital or paper, it’s crucial you have a calendar for course dates. Knowing when things are due allows you to work on them in advance.

4. Schedule Study Time

Nurses are always busy. They have classes, practicums, part-time jobs, and studying to balance. You have to learn how to handle stress and work through it.

This is why scheduling your time is so important.

Consider schedule blocking. Using a planner or Google Calendar, enter all the different things you’ll be doing this week. When can you block off time for your online course?

Remember, the more you review, the better you’ll do. Try and schedule frequent study blocks. And, start studying for a test as soon as you know about it.

Cramming is not a successful study habit. You will get better grades and stay sane if you plan, schedule, and work a little every day.

5. Connect with the Professor

When you need help with an in-person class, you go to your teacher after class. Or, you visit during their office hours. In an online course, it’s a little trickier.

Start the course by connecting with the teacher through email. Let them know who you are and why you’re taking this course.

Then, ask what the best way to ask questions about course material is. When do they prefer you call or email? How long will it take to get a response?

You may find that professors for online programs don’t answer questions right away. You could wait a few days for clarifications, or you can take initiative. Message other students, talk to your practicum adviser or do more research.

The important thing is to find help when you need it. Don’t go through the whole course not understanding the material in module one.

6. Meet the Technical Requirements

Since your class is online, you need excellent internet access. This is easy for most students that live in a city. But, if you live in rural areas or are traveling, it could be a challenge.

Before starting the course, ensure you can meet the technical expectations. Secure a study space that has WIFI, or buy a mobile hotspot. You may also need a webcam, microphone, or other devices.

Consider using the free internet at your local library or college campus. Many cafes also have internet for customers. If meeting the technical requirements is a struggle, plan your solutions in advance.

7. Find Your Study Space

Your environment affects your mood and productivity. When you’re surrounded by clutter and mess, your brain will feel chaotic and unfocused. If the people around you are having fun or relaxing, you won’t want to study.

Instead, find your perfect study space.

Find a place that is quiet, clean, and has internet. You may prefer white noise around you, or you might want silence. Consider a library or co-working space where the people around you are focusing.

You also need to make sure your study set-up is ergonomic. As a nurse, you know the toll this career takes on your body. Poor ergonomics when studying can jump-start that toll.

Sit at a desk with a straight posture. The computer screen should be at eye level in front of you. Your elbows and knees should stay bent at 90 degrees.

Creating a comfortable and ergonomic study space will make you more productive.

Ready to Start Your Online Nursing Program?

It’s not a surprise that so many students are choosing online courses these days. They offer convenience so you can fit everything you want to do in your schedule.

But, adjusting to your online nursing program may take some time. To make it easier, follow the tips above. Make connections with the teacher and other students; plan everything.

For more information on your nursing program and trends in the industry, check out the Articles and Resources Page.