Critical nursing is a specialized form of nursing that deals particularly with human responses to life-threatening medical problems. A critical care nurse is licensed to provide intensive care to acutely and critically ill patients. In most circumstances, these nurses also provide emotional support to the families of their critically ill patients.
The primary role of a critical care nurse is that of a patient advocate. Since they typically work in high pressure situations, critical care nurses are required to be very vigilant and must rely on a specialized skill set to provide care to both patients and their families. According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, following are the patient advocacy guidelines that critical care nurses should follow:
Respect and support the rights of the patient and the patient’s family
Respect the beliefs of the patient
Monitor and safeguard the patient’s quality of care
Support the decisions made by the patient and their families
Critical Care Nursing Programs
If you want to go into this field of medicine, there are several critical care programs you could join. Various levels of educational qualifications are available if you are looking for critical care nurse practitioner programs. If you want a basic level of education, you could go for an associate or a bachelor’s degree. However, with a subject area as complex as this, these qualifications might only get you entry level jobs. For this reason, you are advised to look into higher education qualifications.
Masters in Critical Care
A master’s in critical care program identifies and explores the multiple professional issues that have an impact on practice and deals with various legal, social, organizational and ethical issues relating to effective and informal practice. Throughout this program, you will gain comprehensive theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are needed of specialist care nurses.
With a master’s in critical care, you can go into four different directions:
Standard with Advanced Standing
Dissertation with Advanced Standing
A master’s degree will take you nearly two years on average after you have completed your bachelor’s degree.
PhD in Critical Care
If you wish to go for an advance program in critical healthcare nursing, then a PhD degree might be what you are looking for. This degree exposes you to advance courses in the subject including the likes of health assessment, advanced nursing care theories, advanced research in critical care, advanced practice nursing, management of acutely injured patients and clinical pharmacology.
In addition to a vast set of advance level courses, a PhD program also gives you a strong knowledge base to conduct in-depth research on different matters within this field. The program might last for 4 to 6 years and will end with a dissertation.
Critical Care Nursing Certification
In order to practice as a critical care nurse, you will be required to obtain a certification first. Under the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses you can get a voluntary critical care certification. Nurses have the option of taking examinations to earn a variety of critical care certifications including Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNPC), Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) or a Critical Care Nurse Specialist (CCNS).
Critical Care Paramedic Programs
A critical care paramedic program is designed to prepare you for the provision of critical care during inter-facility transport, including the performance of advanced clinical patient assessments and providing care options beyond the typical pre-hospital care. A critical care paramedic course includes modes of transport, flight physiology, barophysiology and transfer considerations including matters such as safety, patient packaging, practicing in confined spaces, and airway and ventilation management during acute surgical procedures, chest drainage maintenance and other transfer related concerns.
Online Critical Care Nursing Course
With the latest developments in the field of technology, it has now become possible for prospective students to take the critical care nursing courses online. Below are some of the options of what an online critical care course might include:
Critical Care for Adult Nurses Course: This would deal with physical assessments, pharmacological concepts, nutritional measurements, and diagnostic tests in a critical care environment. Course topics are often relevant to the human body systems, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and hematological systems.
Critical Care for Paramedics: This course will teach how to provide care for critically ill patients during inter-facility ambulance transportation. Patients are frequently carried in between various healthcare facilities and hospitals. The time spent in the ambulance can be very critical to the condition of the patient. An online critical care paramedic course deals with all the aspects of healthcare provision during this important time period. Examples of study topics include chest draining, thoracostomy, surgical airways, advanced pharmacologic treatment and hemodynamic monitoring.
Patient Management in Critical Care Settings: This course deals with the common problems that can arise in a critical care facility. Areas of study would revolve around current technology related to disease management, health treatment research, and diagnostic assessment and management skills for patients under intensive care.
Pharmacology in Acute Care Settings Course: This course revolves around the concepts of prescription and safe management of pharmaceutics in acute settings. Students are exposed to pharmacological effects on organ systems, different modes of administration, therapeutic uses, contraindications, drug interactions and adverse reactions. Legal and professional responsibilities relevant to pharmacology are also made a part of the curriculum.
Why Go for a Critical Care Nursing Degree Online?
With a subject area like critical care nursing, it is hard to imagine how an online course can cover all aspects of the field. Live classes are offered around twice or thrice a week, as per the university policy, to create a collaborative live session where students can interact with the instructors and other students online. Video lectures of this sort help bridge the physical distance between the lecturer and the students. The sessions are usually saved and can be accessed through the university’s online portal at a later date, as per the convenience of the students.
The online learning option may be an attractive prospect for students who are looking for a more flexible and easy to manage program. This is especially applicable to people who are already well into their professional lives and need a positive uplift in their career. Such a program offers them the convenience of maintaining a schedule according to their personal requirements and studying at their own pace. In addition to that, an online program in critical care nursing might also include a few campus visits, for labs and practical assignments that require direct supervision from the instructors, making it an ideal hybrid program.