Critical Care is a comprehensive collection of reference concisely covering the core topics and controversies of critical care.
Critical care nursing is that specialty within nursing that deals specifically with human responses to life-threatening problems. A critical care nurse is a licensed professional nurse who is responsible for ensuring that acutely and critically ill patients and their families receive optimal care.
Critical care nurses practice in settings where patients require complex assessment, high-intensity therapies and interventions and continuous nursing vigilance. Critical care nurses rely upon a specialized body of knowledge, skills and experience to provide care to patients and families and create environments that are healing, humane and caring.
Foremost, the critical care nurse is a patient advocate. AACN defines advocacy as respecting and supporting the basic values, rights and beliefs of the critically ill patient. In this role, critical care nurses:
Respect and support the right of the patient or the patient's designated surrogate to autonomous informed decision making.
Intervene when the best interest of the patient is in question.
Help the patient obtain necessary care.
Respect the values, beliefs and rights of the patient.
Provide education and support to help the patient or the patient's designated surrogate make decisions.
Represent the patient in accordance with the patient's choices.
Support the decisions of the patient or designated surrogate, or transfer care to an equally qualified critical care nurse.
Intercede for patients who cannot speak for themselves in situations that require immediate action.
Monitor and safeguard the quality of care the patient receives.
Act as a liaison between the patient, the patient's family and other healthcare professionals.
The Roles of Critical Care Nurses
Critical care nurses work in a wide variety of settings, filling many roles including bedside clinicians, nurse educators, nurse researchers, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. With the onset of managed care and the resulting migration of patients to alternative settings, critical care nurses are caring for patients who are more ill than ever before.
Managed care has also fueled a growing demand for advanced practice nurses in the acute care setting. Advanced practice nurses are those who have received advanced education at the master's or doctoral level. In the critical care setting, they are most frequently clinical nurse specialists (CNS) or acute care nurse practitioners (ACNP).
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