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Careers in Nursing | Critical Care Nurse (CCRN)

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Critical Care Nurse (CCRN)

Career Overview

Critical care nurses care for patients who are critically ill. They have a great deal of one-on-one contact with the patients and are often the main source of information for the family members. They are responsible for constantly monitoring the patient’s condition, as well as recognizing any subtle changes. These nurses use a great amount of technology within their practice, and function as integral members of the multidisciplinary healthcare team. Critical care nurses must possess the ability to collaborate with other members of the health care team such as physicians, case managers, therapists, and, especially, other nurses. They are responsible for all care given to the patient, from medication administration to tracheotomy and other ventilator care, as well as constant monitoring of the patient for any alterations in status. Responsibilities include monitoring, assessment, vital sign monitoring, ventilatory management, medication administration, intravenous insertion and infusion, central line care, Swan–Ganz catheters, and maintenance of a running record of the patient’s status. They must be prepared at all times to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-saving techniques.


RN preparation and advanced cardiac life support certification are required. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing and critical care nurse certification are preferred and may be required depending on the institution. Most institutions require at least 1 to 2 years of medical–surgical experience, although some hospitals are offering extended preceptorships to selected new graduates. Previous critical care experience is desired. In addition to prior experience, many institutions require nurses to pass a critical care course, usually offered in the hospital, and to complete 4 to 6 weeks of orientation to the unit. Certification in critical care or cardiac medicine is available from the American Association of Critical Care Nursing Certification Corporation.


  • Excellent assessment skills, ability to detect very subtle changes in a patient’s condition
  • Strong organizational skills, ability to prioritize
  • Communication skills and patient and family education skills
  • Strong knowledge of anatomy and physiology, medications and their actions, interactions, side effects, and calculations
  • Maturity and ability to handle end-of-life issues, such as when to cease  life-prolonging interventions or organ donation decisions
  • Affinity for technology


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Adult CCRN® Certification Review, Second Edition image

Adult CCRN® Certification Review, Second Edition


Includes 6 months' free ExamPrepConnect Digital Access with print purchase!The second edition of Adult CCRN® Certification Review is designed to help you prepare for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) certification exam. This comprehensive print + digital resource has been completely revised to include current, concise review content as well as updated Q&A. The unique "Think in Questions, Learn by Rationales" format is designed to help readers anticipate the kind of questions they might be asked and promote critical thinking throughout the exam. The review begins with a 25-question pretest to help you gauge current knowledge levels as well as key information about the exam and helpful test-taking tips. Chapters are broken into bite-size sections that feature plentiful exhibits and "hints" to facilitate learning and memorization. Each chapter concludes with multiple-choice questions to help you assess knowledge retention, and the review concludes w...

Adult Critical Care Nurse Certification Q&A Practice (Digital Access: 6-Month Subscription) image

Adult Critical Care Nurse Certification Q&A Practice (Digital Access: 6-Month Subscription)


Get 6 months' digital access to Adult Critical Care Nurse Certification Q&A Practice and pass your Adult CCRN(R)* certification exam! This interactive web and mobile product includes:500+ Practice Questions-Study by exam content area and identify your strengths and weaknesses to focus your studies.Two Full-Length Practice Tests-Simulate the test-taking environment with two 150-question, 3-hour timed tests. Mark questions to revisit later, pause, review, and finalize before submitting to get your score.Ten 20-Question Mini-Tests-Not enough time to get through a full test? Take these mini-tests instead to check your knowledge!High-Quality, Up-to-Date Content-Updated from the book Adult CCRN(R) Certification Review by Kendra Menzies Kent, these questions are based on the most recent exam blueprint from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.Study Plan-Use the structured study plan based on your personal exam date to break down your exam prep into digestible daily study...

Adult CCRN® Exam Prep Study Guide image

Adult CCRN® Exam Prep Study Guide


NOTE TO READERS: Publisher does not guarantee quality or access to any included digital components if book is purchased through a third-party seller.Includes one month free ExamPrepConnect digital access with print purchase!Adult CCRN® Exam Prep Study Guide gets right to the point with targeted content based on the latest AACN exam blueprint. This easy-to-follow guide includes all the tools you need to prepare, practice, and pass the exam—and nothing you don't. PLUS the convenience and community of ExamPrepConnect for access anytime, anywhere, across all your devices.PREPAREConcise coverage of the content you'll be tested on.Quick-reference features with complications, alerts, and nursing pearls. Need-to-know information to prepare you for exam day.PRACTICETwo full-length practice tests—one in book and one online—to assess your readiness and simulate the test-taking experience.Detailed rationales for correct and incorrect answers.Pop quizzes that h...