What Critical Care Specialists Do?

Managing fatal injuries or illnesses is the main objective of critical care medicine. There may be various types of organ support systems needed by patients who are critically injured or ill to survive. In the intensive care unit or the ICU various equipments are fastened to the patient’s body.

People who have specialized in Critical care take care of them. There is 24 hour vigilance over the condition of the patient so as to ensure instantaneous intervention if there is any problem in the patient’s condition. There is a monitor attached to almost all patients which measures the breathing and heart rate of the patient. The staffs get alerted if they hear the beep of the monitor.

It does so only when there is a decrease in the normal range in the patient’s body functions. There may be tubes fastened to the patient’s body in the ICU. These may be inserted into their veins to administer the needed medicines into their body. These are required for the patient to recover. There may be tubes inserted into the nose and stomach of the patient too, which in order to prevent throwing out and gets rid of the gases from the stomach.

If the patient finds it hard to breath, mechanical ventilators are used to facilitate breathing by supplying oxygen to the patient’s lungs. Several problems and disorders like acute respiratory distress syndrome are treated by Critical care professionals. Here the lungs stop functioning abruptly. Infection of the lungs or illness may cause this condition.

Placing the patient in Mechanical ventilator would help the patient retrieve breathing. Trauma is also specialization of these doctors and the staff under them. Motor vehicle accidents and other types of incidents cause serious injuries to thousands of people. Intensive care for life support and further surgery are needed to make these patients survive.

People whose condition are critical and near death are treated by critical care specialists. If these doctors are not there to help they might die. Emergency care units in hospitals employ critical care to bring these patients to normal from the fatal conditions they are pushed into by accidents and illnesses. Intensive vigilance, life support, care of people with lethal diseases are done in the critical care area of the medical field.

The Ins and Outs of the Critical Care Nursing Field

Whenever the term critical care is mentioned – most people immediately think about severely sick patients in intensive care units or ICUs. They are not mistaken. Intensive Care Units and Critical Care specialized areas in the hospital that care for patients in need of intense and one on one attention. These are the areas where a critical care nurse Practices.

What is a Critical Care Nurse

A Critical Care Nurse or a CCN is a highly specialized nurse that has been trained to work in Intensive Care areas. They are nurses that care for patients who are severely ill and in need of individualized care. A CCN cares for patients of all diagnoses and gender. Patients may vary depending on this category. Critical care nurses also deal with complex technology that helps sustain patients.

The History

This type of nursing is a relatively new nursing specialty. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the very first Intensive Care Units appeared in the Western world. These units were created to deal with gravely ill patients. They were considered to need a more intensive form of care compared to the patients in the regular wards. The notion of an intensive care unit quickly spread. Today, most hospitals are required to have these specialized areas and in turn specialized nurses and physicians to run them.

Back then, nurses assigned in CCUs and ICUs were not seen as different from regular ward RNs. It was only a few years later that CCN was considered as a specialized nursing field.

Roles of a CCN

Like any other registered nurse, the roles of the critical care nurse are very complex. These nurses have to deal with severely ill patients. They also need to be familiar with complex technologies that are continually present in a critical care setting. The critical care nurse also has to know basic and advance life support. Such skills may be called upon at any point during his/her service.

The critical care nurse must also be skilled in the art of diagnosis. He/she must be able to diagnose and identify a patient’s immediate needs. This part of nursing is important as it may be the difference between life and death for a patient. Nonetheless, the nurse must remember that despite being skilled at diagnosis, one must not overstep her boundaries and perform roles reserved for a physician alone.

Aside from dealing with patients and their needs, the CCN also has to deal with the patient’s family. The CCN often works as a counselor that helps the family get through the crisis at hand. He/she may have to deal with questions and concerns from the patient’s immediate family and significant others.

Qualifications and Requirements

IN THE PHILIPPINES – Locally, any registered nurse can become a critical care nurse. It is only a matter of area assignment. Most of the time, nurses who are assigned in critical care units are those who have shown promise in their previous areas of exposure. They are also the ones who have worked in similar areas such as medical/surgical or pediatric units.

ABROAD – Abroad, in the US specifically, there are no specialized requirement to be a critical care nurse other than an RN License. However, there are bodies of authority that certify CCNs.

Although, certification is not required, most CCNs abroad are choosing to go for it because it increases their credibility. Employers also often require their CCNs to be certified in the field. Certification is achieved post graduation. It is not something taught in school. Some schools may expose their students to ICUs, but this is not considered enough for certification. The RNs get their CCN certificates while they are on the job. It is also often sponsored by the employer.