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Critical Care Nurse: Definition & Principles

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Mitchell

Jennifer is a clinical professor for nursing students in critical care and has several years of experience in teaching nursing.

Critical care nursing is an exciting and challenging field. There are many principles of critical care nurses that contribute to the care that they provide. This lesson describes the principles of critical care nursing.

Critical Care Nurse: Definition

Critical care nurses work in the intensive care unit (or ICU) of a hospital assisting critically ill patients. Critically ill patients have life-threatening medical problems that require frequent monitoring, and they generally need tubes to assist with breathing as well as medications to regulate their blood pressure. The ICU could not function without critical care nurses.

Principles of a Critical Care Nurse

So how do critical care nurses do such a difficult job? They follow the principles of critical care nursing. Let's review those now.

Practice Is Highly Qualified

Critical care nurses must uphold a certain level of quality in their practice. Why does quality matter? Because it's your (or your loved one's) life at stake! Improving their bedside practice occurs through quality improvement, being involved at the organizational level, and collection of data. Quality improvement means they review care plans for patients, outcomes from previous patients, and evidence from research to improve the outcomes of their patients. Doesn't that make you feel a little more at ease?

Education Is Power!

Next, let's look at education. Isn't it great learning new things? Critical care nurses never stop learning. As part of their practice and certification, these nurses attend classes and training sessions in order to improve their competency as a critical care nurse. This is known as lifelong learning. Healthcare is ever-changing with advances in technology and new medications and illnesses being discovered every day. What better way to learn how to work with all the new, than to learn new things? The best prepared nurses are those who continue their education, not just in school but in practice.

Working With Others

Critical care nurses must also work well with others. Do you have a team of people you work with that make work rewarding and more meaningful? Critical care nurses have the same. As part of being in critical care nursing, these nurses share what they know about caring for patients with their coworkers. They provide constructive feedback to help others improve their practice. They also contribute to and support a healthy work environment that is crucial to optimal patient outcomes in the critical care area. If you've ever heard the saying 'well-oiled machine,' that's what critical care nursing is like. As long as critical care nurses maintain a healthy work environment and good relationships with their peers, you can be sure that you or your loved one will always be in the best hands.

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