Description: Critical Care Nurse (RN)s work in the hospital Intensive Care Units caring for patients with life threatening disease or injuries who are reliant on life support. ICU nurses also care for the emotional and spiritual needs of critically ill patients and their families.
Job Outlook: Nursing as a whole will be one of the top 10 fastest growing professions in the U.S. in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment in intensive care areas may increase as medical research finds more "High Tech" ways to intervene in patient care.
Opportunities: Critical Care Nurse (RN)s are always in demand and may find it easier to move from hospital to hospital with their specialized skills. Critical Care experience also opens the door to other specialty practices: flight and ground transport nursing, interventional procedure nursing and nurse anesthetist practice.
Challenges: This can be a very high-tech, low-touch practice: some RNs may miss the ongoing interpersonal contact with patients. Other RNs may not enjoy the pressure of being always watchful over unstable patients. The emotional stress of caring for severely ill patients and their families may become a cause of nursing "burnout" over time.