Critical care nursing classes are available through undergraduate certificate programs. Medical center internships and residencies in critical care nursing are other options. Nurses interested in studying critical or acute care at the nurse practitioner level can apply to graduate certificate or Master of Science in Nursing programs, which often offer specializations in pediatrics or adult-gerontology. Courses combine classroom studies with practical experiences, including possible rotations in trauma, cardiac care, surgical intensive care and neuro care units.
Here are a few common concepts taught in critical care nursing courses:
- Body systems
- Mental/physical health
- Medical history
- Medical conditions
- Appropriate treatment methods for patients
List of Common Courses
Introductory Critical Care Practice
In this class, critical care nursing students learn the procedures for performing physical examinations and taking medical histories from patients. They learn the necessity of infection control, including safety and sanitation skills. They learn how to interpret the results of X-rays, perform tracheotomies and treat patients on ventilators. They also study the parts and functions of the pulmonary, gastrointestinal, endocrine, cardiovascular and renal systems.
Health assessment and health screening techniques for critically ill patients are examined in this course. Students focus on patients' mental and physical health, nutrition, family relationships, sleep patterns and growth. Students are also trained to recognize the signs of patient neglect, abuse, pain and substance abuse, as well as critical and chronic conditions.
This course teaches diagnostic skills. Students learn to identify potentially life-threatening conditions, chronic illnesses, addictive diseases and mental health problems. Students become proficient in ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests. They learn the diagnostic procedures and technical skills needed to determine patients' medical conditions.
In this class, students plan interventions for patients with deteriorating health, which may include administering life support. They oversee patients' response to life support measures and learn how to modify their treatment plans as a patient's condition changes. Students learn how to insert tubes, suture wounds and monitor respiratory and nutritional support.
Advanced Critical Care Nursing Theory
Nursing students in this class are trained in disease and health management techniques. The course focuses on research and theory, as well as on the development of critical thinking skills. Students gain experience in attending to the critical health concerns of patients and their families.
Critical Care Nursing Practicum
Students learn to apply the nursing theories they've learned in this hands-on practicum course. Topics in communication, advanced nursing procedures and interacting with professionalism are explored. In addition, students will have the opportunity to work alongside nursing professionals to improve their patient care skills.