There are several opportunities for travel nurses who want to work in critical care. Intensive care nurses are sought after by travel companies for several reasons. Critical care nurses have specialized skills, which may transfer from one intensive care area to another. For example, if you have worked in trauma critical care, you may also be able to float to the surgical intensive care area or neurology ICU. If you are considering trying to land a position as a critical care travel nurse, below are a few specialty areas to consider.
Adult Medical ICU
Working with adults in the intensive care unit can be interesting and challenging. Be aware hospital policies are different, which means not all hospitals take all types of critical care patients. For instance, some hospitals don’t treat burns or patients post-transplant.
In general if you plan to work in adult critical care, you may treat patients who have had cardiac arrests, respiratory failure and other serious medical problems. Working with adults in the ICU provides an opportunity to work with patients on ventilators and those who need complex care.
Trauma Intensive Care
Another option for those interested in intensive care nursing is trauma. Trauma ICU patients often have fractures, head or spinal injuries and other multiple conditions which are being treated.
For nurses interested in working as a nurse traveler in a trauma intensive care unit, voluntary certification through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses is an option. Although not mandatory in order to get hired, becoming certified as an acute/critical care nurse is a qualification which may set you apart from others.
If you like working with children, working in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) may be a good fit. Nurses in the PICU will most likely work with children with a variety of serious medical problems, such as cancer, respiratory failure, cardiac problems, and traumatic injuries.
While it can be extremely rewarding to work with seriously ill children, it can also take a toll emotionally. Treating and taking care of children is more difficult emotionally for some people then taking care of adults. Situations and injuries can be heartbreaking, and not all patients have a good outcome. Watching any patient die is not easy, but when it is a child, it may be especially tough. But there are also positive outcomes where you know you made a difference.
Working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with the tiniest of patients is another option for those who enjoy critical care nursing. NICU nurses work with premature babies who may have congenital problems or medical issues due to their prematurity. Cases may sometimes be complex and working well together as part of a team with doctors, child life specialists, respiratory therapists and social workers is essential.
Critical care nursing has both rewards and challenges. Similar to all types of healthcare work, it can be difficult at times, but most days you will know your work made a difference. Having critical care skills and experience makes a nurse marketable and can increase potential for RN travel opportunities.