Critical Care Certificate and Certification Program Information

A critical care nurse is responsible for providing medical attention to critically injured or ill patients. Registered nurses who specialize in the field enroll in a post-graduate certificate program such as a Critical Care Nursing Certificate.

Essential Information

This certificate program, also sometimes referred to as an acute care nursing certificate program, is designed to prepare nurses to work in the intensive care and acute care units of hospitals and other medical facilities. Students learn how to treat the most seriously injured or ill patients. They learn to work under pressure, take direction from physicians and provide care to the most unstable patients. These post-graduate certificates take about a year to complete and may be specialized in adult critical care, geriatric critical care or pediatric critical care. These programs are only open to registered nurses; students also need to be CPR certified.


Critical Care Certificate Program

Students enrolled in a Critical Care Nursing Certificate program study the basics of trauma nursing and procedures of acute care. They also learn to assess and evaluate injuries, tend to victims of natural and physical disasters and recognize signs of cardiac dysrhythmia. Critical Care Nursing Certificate programs include courses that are designed to prepare students to pass the certification examination given by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. A combination of didactic and clinical courses includes the following topics:

  • Clinical pathophysiology
  • Trauma nursing
  • Disaster healthcare
  • Acute care nursing
  • Cardiac dysrhythmias
  • Critical care technology

Popular Careers

These individuals can work in the intensive care units of several organizations, including:

  • General and surgical hospitals
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Physician's offices
  • Home health care services

Employment Prospects and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes critical care nurses as registered nurses (RN), and employment of RNs was predicted to increase 16% between 2014 and 2024. During this time, faster-than-average job growth may be the result of medical advancements and a steadily increasing elderly population. RNs earned median salaries of $67,490 as of May 2015, per the BLS.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers a Critical Care Registered Nurse credential to individuals who complete an examination. The examination focuses on adult, pediatric and neonatal critical care. Individuals who are interested in furthering their education might consider enrolling in a critical care nurse practitioner program, which generally requires the completion of a master's degree.

Registered nurses with an interest in working with the critically ill or injured may specialize in critical care by earning a Critical Care Certificate.


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