All You Need To Know About A Critical Care Nurse

What Is A Critical Care Nurse?

A critical care nurse is a nurse who specifically works with patients who are experiencing a severe illness or injury and who therefore need close attention and care in order to recover adequately. These are the patients with the most serious and life-threatening conditions, making this type of nursing a fairly stressful career to pursue within the health care profession. Nurses interested in this career should review their personality traits carefully.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

There are a large number of different duties that a critical nurse is expected to perform:

  • Identify patients’ needs and develop relevant care plans
  • Provide care after death
  • Perform approved procedures
  • Decide when emergency interventions are needed
  • Do blood transfusions and monitor for reactions
  • Advocate for patients’ and families’ needs
  • Keep track of patients’ fluid intake
  • Monitor patients for major changes in their condition
  • Assess pain levels and sedate when necessary
  • Assess patients’ psychosocial status
  • Collect specimens for laboratory tests
  • Document patients’ medical histories, treatment plans, interventions, outcomes, plan revisions and assessment findings
  • Assist physicians with procedures
  • Assess family adaptation levels and coping skills to determine whether intervention is needed
  • Plan, provide, or evaluate educational programs
  • Supervise and monitor unit nursing staff


As a critical care nurse you will, effectively, be able to seek employment anywhere where there are patients who require critical care. The places where you can find employment as a critical care nurse include coronary and intensive care, telemetry units or facilities, progressive care units in hospitals, or flight units. Although these are the most common places to find critical care nurses, they are not the only places. Critical care nurses are often employed to work shifts, so you must be prepared to work at times that may not necessarily be convenient for you. However shift work such as this is true of any nursing specialty or sub-profession within the industry.

Critical Care Nurse Requirements

These are the requirements needed for becoming a critical care nurse:

  • To begin you must get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Then you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) which will allow you to begin working as a registered nurse (RN)
  • You must work as an RN for a minimum of two years in critical care
  • You must take continuing education classes (the amount of hours are set by your hospital)
  • After you have done that you must apply to take the certification exam specific to your specialty area
  • Get your critical care nursing certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN)
  • You must take a certain amount continuing education classes certification (rules depend on where you work)
  • After you have done this you will be a Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN)

Personality Traits

Critical Care NursingThere are a number of personality requirements that you should have for a job of this kind. Many of these requirements are necessary for all forms of nursing while others included here are specific to critical care nursing. The most important skill is active listening as this facilitates your ability to show compassion. The other skills you will need are the ability to teach and instruct others, such as patients, the ability to engage in persuasion, systems analysis skills, time management skills, the ability to manage personnel resources in emergency situations, communication skills, such as speaking, reading and writing clearly and concisely in English or the language of choice at your facility, dedication to service orientation, social perceptiveness, critical thinking, good judgment, problem-solving, and decision making skills, coordination skills, negotiation skills, and quality control analysis skills.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for this line of work start with earning a high school diploma which will gain you access to a nursing program. You then have to earn both a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in nursing before moving forward with the career. There are some things that you can keep in mind in terms of the educational requirements for being a critical nurse. You can choose to focus on subspecialties like:

  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Pediatric intensive care
  • Adult intensive care

Continuing education is an important part of your job, since you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest advancements in technology and care. These continuing education units will also allow you to feel more confident in the line of work that you have chosen to pursue.


To become a critical care nurse you need to hold an RN license. This is to allow you to work as an RN and gain the necessary experience for becoming a critical care nurse. To earn your RN license you will need to complete an accredited RN training program. Once you have spent the time necessary to do this, you will be able to apply for licensure form your state board of nursing. Once they have confirmed that you are indeed eligible for licensure you can apply to write the exam with Pearson VUE the administering body. Passing the exam will allow you to become licensed in your state. Depending on the rules in your state you will be required to renew your license once every few years and engage in continuing education.

How To Become A Critical Care Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

The following is a fairly comprehensive list of the training you need for the job:

  • English Language: most hospitals and health care facilities work in English, so being able to communicate effectively in this language is extremely important
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Biology and Mathematics: if possible, focus on these topics while you are still in school to prepare for your career as a critical care nurse.
  • Education and Training
  • Psychology, Therapy and Counseling: Because critical care patients often experience significant traumas and may even die, you will need to be able to provide appropriate support for the patient and/or their family.
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Chemistry
  • Computers and Electronics: these days nursing involves using complex machinery, so knowledge in this area will be taught during your training.

Source An Accredited Education Program

It is extremely important that you complete your RN training as well as any critical care nursing training that you plan to do through an accredited program. Both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees must be completed through an accredited school or else you will be unable to take the necessary examinations. The school itself should provide you with information regarding its accreditation status, but it is always better to double check this information by enquiring about the school through your state board of nursing. Your state board of nursing also provides a list of accredited schools in order to make your initial search for a school easier. Nurses currently employed in facilities near you will also be able to point you in the direction of the accredited schools that they attended to get where they are today.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

Although an associate’s degree is a good way to get your foot in the door of the nursing industry, you will ultimately need to earn a master’s degree to be a critical care nurse. Your associate’s degree is nothing more than a stepping stone to your full qualification. To earn an associate’s degree:

  • Explore the schools in your area offering nursing programs
  • Create a short list of the best options and apply for those you are interested in remembering to adhere to the specific application requirements of each
  • Select the best school and complete the education requirements that the school asks of you
  • Once you have graduated from the program you will have an associate’s degree and you will be able to begin the process of becoming an RN and getting some experience.

Obtain Your Licensure

The only license that you strictly speaking need for this line of work is your RN license. You have the options of becoming certified as a critical care nurse, but this is not compulsory at all. However if you do choose to become certified you will expand your employment opportunities significantly and open the door to expand your career in the future. In order to do this a critical care nurse must care for critically ill patients for a minimum of two years to be eligible for the CCRN certification exam offered by AACN. You can choose the area of critical care that you would like to specialize in. the exam that you will write to earn certification will be easy enough if you have experience and you have revised the subject matter likely to appear on the test.

Online/Distance Education Programs

It is possible to do your critical care nursing training online. One example of a school offering this is:

  • Duquesne University
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Masters

However it is important to remember that nursing qualifications always include a practical aspect during training, which, of course, cannot be completed online. This means that you may need to make provisions to complete your clinical training yourself at a nearby health care facility. It is also important to ensure that the school you attend is in fact accredited as this will ensure that you will not waste your time and your money. Online study can be extremely convenient provided that you have the will power and self-motivation capabilities necessary to complete the theory portion of a nursing program in this manner and that you pick the right school.

Job Outlook

Because there is such a shortage of critical care nurses and critical care nursing units across the country, too many people are being treated in inadequate conditions, which is why it has been suggested that hospitals of the future will be large critical care units, and other types of care will be provided in alternative locations or at home. This is good for critical care nurses who are looking at the long term job outlook for the career. In the short term it is worth noting that the nursing industry is expanding at a faster rate than any other industry, meaning that more and more jobs are available every year. In addition there will always be a need for critical care nurses with their specific skill set in this world.


Depending on what your status is in a hospital you may earn slightly different rates with critical care nursing certification:

  • As a Registered Nurse (RN) you will earn around $22.47 – $44.13 an hour
  • As a Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) you will earn around $21.74 – $42.64 an hour
  • As a Charge Nurse (RN) you will earn around $24.93 – $51.38 an hour
  • As a Registered Nurse (RN) working in the Emergency Room you will earn around $23.19 – $50.52 an hour
  • As a Clinical Nurse Manager you will earn around $24.43 – $49.18 an hour

The school you attend could affect your salary:

  • University of Phoenix (UOP) = $34.22 – $46.00 an hour
  • University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) = $31.49 – $39.61 an hour
  • University of Washington (UW) = $28.50 – $40.00 an hour

Last but not least certain cities pay more than others:

  • In Houston, Texas you will earn around $25.58 – $41.02 an hour
  • In Orlando, Florida you will earn around $22.82 – $42.50 an hour
  • In Atlanta, Georgia you will earn around $22.67 – $40.72 an hour
  • In Denver, Colorado you will earn around $25.66 – $37.77 an hour
  • In Chicago, Illinois you will earn around $30.26 – $47.96 an hour

As a critical care nurse there are a number of opportunities available to you both in terms of salary and career, but also in terms of the rewarding nature of the job.

Earning Your Pharmacology Certification

There are a number of very specific specializations that nurses choose to pursue once they have their LPN license. One of these additional qualifications that could result in a number of benefits for you is earning pharmacology certification. With pharmacology certification you will be in line for a number of excellent opportunities in terms of employment. A hardworking and dedicated student will not take long in earning this qualification and expanding their career horizons.

Why Should I Get Pharmacology Certification?

There are a number of excellent reasons why you should pursue pharmacology certification, some of which have been touched on already:

  • You will be able to earn more money as a nurse: every additional qualification that you strive towards as a nurse will mean that you stand a higher chance of being employed in more highly paid positions.
  • You will be more marketable: potential employers look for nurses who show a desire to pursue their education and do more than just the bare minimum in pursuit of career excellence. In addition it will mean that you can get a job with employers specifically looking for nurses that have this certification.

It is also often very easy to earn your pharmacology certificating, especially as a number of employers are more than willing to sponsor the certification in exchange for which you, as the nurse in the picture will agree to work for your employer for a set period of time.

One of the best organizations through which to get your pharmacology certification is NAPNES as this shows that your qualification is of good quality and increases your chances of employment.

Common Job Roles And Duties

There are a number of tasks that a nurse with pharmacology certification is expected to fulfill. These include attending to individuals who are sick, injured, or disabled, noting vital signs, assisting the patient with personal grooming and ambulatory problems, administering injections and enemas, dressing wounds, giving massages and alcohol rubs, monitoring patients for adverse reactions to medications or treatments and reporting on them if there are any, monitoring catheters, and recording food and fluid intake and output. Consequently it can be seen that nurses in this position tend to perform many of the same tasks as other nurses, with the addition of specific, pharmacological roles included. The job role is an extremely important one as it ensures that patients are receiving the appropriate level of care that they need in order to recover as efficiently as possible. Attention to detail is a very important aspect of the job as it is one of the primary roles of the pharmacology nurse to ensure that the patient is not reacting badly to any medication and to put a stop to that medication if an adverse reaction is observed. If you earn certification in this area of nursing you will be allowed to use the title or signature LPN, NCP.About Pharmacology Certification


One of the best organizations through which to receive pharmacology certification is NAPNES. This stands for the National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services. In the NAPNES training program you will cover:

  • Pharmacological and medical administration principles
  • How Pharmacological and medical administration principles apply in the LPN profession
  • Drug classifications
  • Procedures for medical administration
  • Medication assessment
  • Dosage calculations

This training also counts towards your continuing education credits, counting as 45 hours in total. Belonging to NAPNES is not a prerequisite for earning pharmacology certification through this body (although there are many benefits to belonging to NAPNES, making it a viable option for most nurses to consider). NAPNES members will, however, be given a substantial discount on the study materials that are needed in order to pass the certification examination. In order to become a member with NAPNES there are a number of separate steps that you will need to follow and the entire process is distinct form the process of applying for pharmacology certification through the association. As with all associations and certification examinations there are a number of eligibility requirements that you have to meet.


Certification through NAPNES is one of the best choices you could make as it is a well known and nationally recognized certification body for this line of work. In fact many employers require that you have the NAPNES certification over other options as it represents a guarantee that you will be skilled in your role as a pharmacology nurse. It effectively allows you to:

  • Build skills
  • Measure your knowledge
  • Demonstrate your employability

The application form for certification can be found here. To apply you will need to begin by downloading the application package, make the necessary online payments for whichever certification or recertification option you are interested in pursuing, complete the application form, provide a copy of your license to be an LPN (Pharmacology, Long- Term Care, and I.V. Therapy Certifications require an LPN or LVN license in good standing), email or fax the necessary documentation to NAPNES, await your authorization letter, and then set a date to sit the exam. Once you have sat the examination and passed it you will need to print out the affidavit, have it notarized after you have filled it in, and send it to NAPNES. You will receive your certification in a few days following this.


There are a number of eligibility requirements that you will need to meet in order to earn pharmacology certification. To begin with you must have a current and unencumbered LPN/LVN license in the United States or in a U.S. territory. Alternatively you could simply meet the educational requirements for taking the NCLEX-LP examination (meaning that you do not have your LPN license yet, but that you are eligible to receive one soon). A signature from the program director will be required on your application for certification. In addition to this you will also need to, obviously, receive a passing grade on the NAPNES Pharmacology Certification Examination, a test that NAPNES provides study materials for. All certifications will require 24 contact hours of continuing education during the certification period to be eligible for re-certification. Once you receive certification you will be eligible to work as a pharmacology nurse for 3 years, at which point you will need to pursue recertification. 24 hours of continuing education over a period of three years is very little, and you may want to consider doing more than what is required in order to further boost your credentials and your confidence in your job.


The coursework that you will be required to complete will consist of a number of topics, not least of which is dosage calculations of medications and intravenous fluid rates. In addition to this you will also be required to become well versed in the topics of medication assessment and procedures for administration, drug classifications and their effect on various body systems, and specific drugs in each classification that are emphasized according to expected effects, side effects, allergic and adverse effects. Because you will be closely involved in the administration of medication, you will also be provided with comprehensive information on the safety precautions, guidelines, and documentation. Last but not least you will study the human nervous system and the effects certain drugs have on the body and the routes of drug administration and variables that influence drug action. Based on this it becomes clear that there are two components of the course you will complete that are of paramount importance:

  • Medical math
  • Safety precautions

Safety precautions can be learned, but medical math will be easier if you already have a natural affinity for numbers as well as for making accurate calculations.


There are a number of costs that are involved in obtaining pharmacology certification, as you will most probably not be surprised to hear. The main costs that are involved in the process are:

  • $100 fee that is payable to NAPNES in order to register as a pharmacology nurse and which must be included with your application for certification
  • $60 must be paid to Castle Worldwide when you log on to their system in order to write the examination
  • An additional $50 must be paid to Castle Worldwide for every additional attempt that you make at the test should you fail to pass the first time round
  • NAPNES members pay $50 in order to obtain re-certification every three years
  • Non-NAPNES members pay $100 in order to gain re-certification every three years (meaning that it is cheaper to re-certify if you are a member)
  • $10 will be needed if you need to change your name along with a certificate of marriage or divorce
  • Additional costs may be incurred if you buy additional study materials, if you do not take your test within 60 days of applying for certification, or if you apply late for the renewal of your license

The Exam

Content Of Exam

The work that you will be assessed on in the examination will consist of many topics that you will have covered in basic LPN training. In addition you could complete a training program specifically aimed at preparing you for pharmacology certification and NAPNES provides optional study materials for you to use as preparation. You can take the exam if:

  • You have passed a training course, or
  • If you have prior training or work experience

You will receive login details from NAPNES which will expire within 60 days after your application. This means that you will need to login within 60 days to take the exam, so make sure that you are properly prepared when you apply for it.

You will need to answer 150 multiple choice questions to pass the exam. The exam is offered online and the questions appear one at a time on the screen. You cannot print these questions, and any attempt to do will result in immediate failure. You should also note that when the 2 hour time limit is reached, your test will be submitted for grading regardless of whether or not you have finished. The exam can be completed form anywhere.

Passing The Exam

It is your responsibility to ensure that you take the exam in a quiet location where you are unlikely to be disturbed by anyone or anything. This is something that you may have to think about or plan in advance. The exam can be taken from anywhere with an internet connection. If you can get your hands on official pharmacology certification exam study review guides you will find that you will be better prepared for taking the test. These guides not only prepare you for the content of the test but also tend to give you a fairly good idea of what the layout of the test will be and help you decide how long you can afford to spend on each multiple choice question. This will mean that the test will not present you with any surprises and you will be able to pace yourself well throughout the examination. Although different people study differently, it is interesting to note that many students find it easier to pass the certification examination after studying in a group than on their own. In addition attending a program or using the materials provided by NAPNES also tend to increase pass rates in students taking the exam.

Although this is not a qualification that suits everyone, pharmacology certification can make a substantial difference to your career and may result in a number of excellent career advancements and opportunities. Becoming a nurse with pharmacology certification will allow you to broaden your employment options as well as earn more respect in the workplace and within the nursing profession in general. Any further education that you pursue as a nurse will result in you being more marketable to potential employers, thereby making it a worthwhile goal to pursue. It also serves to cement your position in the healthcare industry, one of the most stable industries around.

Useful LPN Job Interview Tips

Although different employers have different interview methods that they like to use when interviewing LPNs for a position, there are a number of LPN job interview tips that you can keep in mind to help you get through the interview. Remember that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you – you need to decide if the job is right for you as much as they need to decide if you are the right person for the job. It is normal to be nervous and often nerves can even help you do a better job in the interview.

Preparing For The Interview

Preparing for the interview is something that is extremely important. There are two main reasons for this:

  • It serves a practical function in that you will have all of the information you need to do well on an interview
  • You will feel more confident in your ability to succeed in the interview

Preparation includes researching the different organizations that you are applying at. This is so you can answer any questions they ask you about the organization, but it also allows you to get a clearer picture regarding whether or not the organization is a good match for you.

The next thing that you should do is to practice the actual interview. Even though you cannot know what questions exactly you will be asked, you can prepare for the general situation with fellow nurse, family, or friends. Outlining your strengths, weaknesses, and qualifications as a nurse will help you prepare in this way.

Make sure that you know and understand what the different job descriptions are for each of the positions you are applying for as different institutes may wish to employ an LPN for different reasons. This will help you focus on your relevant skills in the interview.

Personal Appearance

It is important that you make a good first impression in terms of your appearance. This means that you should be well groomed. Wear conservative clothing that speaks of professionalism. Do not wear a lot of jewelry and avoid it altogether if possible. Make-up should be applied very lightly, if at all, and you should not wear sleeveless tops. Cover any tattoos that you may have and be sure to sit up straight and have neat hair.

LPN Job Interview Tips

Tip 1

The first of the LPN job interview tips that we have for you today involves preparation. This is essential, especially if it is your first job interview for an LPN position. Preparation includes:

  • Creating a comprehensive folder to take with you to the interview. This should contain transcripts of your high school diploma and LPN training as well as your resume.
  • If you have been employed before, get letters of recommendation from your employer. If not, try to get some letters from your lecturer.
  • Research the facility where you are applying for the job to show your interest in the place.LPN Job Interview Tip

Tip 2

Although interview questions are never standard, and you can never be 100% sure of what you will be asked, there are a few questions that often come up, such as “Tell us about yourself”. You should research the common questions that are asked in interviews and prepare your answers.

Tip 3

In order to show that you are interested in the position as well as in the healthcare facility, you need to prepare some questions to ask your potential employer. These questions need to be well thought out and relevant. Do not ask questions for the sake of asking questions, but rather think of things that you really want to know about the place where you have applied for a job. The questions that you ask will tell your potential employer a lot about who you are and whether or not you are in fact adequately suited for the position. Here are some suggestions of questions you could ask:

  • You could ask if there are any continuing education opportunities available at their facility
  • You could enquire as to the nurse-to-patient ratio in that hospital
  • You could ask whether nurses have input regarding the care environment

However, if none of the above is relevant, ignore them and think of your own questions.

Tip 4

When it comes to job interviews it is always better to be horribly early than even a little bit late, so if you are unsure about how to get to the interview location, or if you are worried about traffic, give yourself plenty of time to get there. Arriving early can also give you a few moments to catch your breath and compose yourself. Use the restroom to check your appearance and ensure that you look professional and ready to go.

Tip 5

First impressions are extremely important and your interview is essentially the first impression that your potential employer will have of you. Some tips to keep in mind here are the following:

  • When you greet your interviewer give them a firm and brief handshake while smiling and maintaining eye contact (be careful not to stare)
  • When giving your answers during the interview, speak in a clear voice and try to appear confident even if you are not really feeling very confident inside
  • Do not fidget or chew gum (or eat/drink anything else for that matter) as this will put forward the idea that you are unprofessional or disinterested

Tip 6

If you are asked a question that you do not fully understand, it is better to ask for clarification than to attempt to answer the question anyway. A good way to compose yourself for the next question is to ask a question back after you have answered. You must make sure that these questions are relevant and that they show your interest in the job and convey your intelligence to the interviewer.

Tip 7

Many people choose to send a handwritten note to the interviewer after the interview is complete thanking them for their time. This will allow the interviewer to remember who you are when the selection process begins.

Typical Questions

There are a number of questions that tend to come up in LPN interviews more or less without fail. Although we cannot include a comprehensive list here, these questions should give you an idea of what you can expect from a potential employer when in an interview for a licensed practical nurse position at a health care facility.

What They Can Ask

What Nursing Organizations Do You Belong To?

The reason that an interviewer may ask this question is to gauge your level of commitment to the profession. Belonging to an organization shows an interest in the profession outside of your working hours. If you do belong to nursing organizations, state the names of the organizations, how long you have belonged to them, and why you joined. If you do not, indicate the organizations that you are interested in joining (if any).

Are you authorized to work in the US?

This is a practical question to gauge whether or not you can be employed in that company. Answer briefly and truthfully.

What is your current address and are there alternative places to reach you?

When answering this question give just the area in which you live unless pressed for a specific address (this information will have been on your resume in any case).

What days are you available to work?

When answering this question, keep the following in mind:

  • The broader the range of days you give, the more useful you are to the employer and the more likely they are to hire you.
  • If you have restrictions on your time because of having children or for another reason, be honest about this up front. For example you may only be able to work day shifts while the children are at school.
  • Remember that you will be held to the answer that you give here, so be honest.

Will you be able to work our schedule?

The first step here is getting information regarding the schedule and what exactly will be required of you. Once the schedule has been outlined, answer truthfully regarding your ability to stick to it.

Are you over the age of 18?

In most states you must be 18 years or older to work as an LPN. Consequently this is an essential question that you must answer truthfully if it comes up. Your answer will be double checked, so if you are not older than 18, do not bother applying.

What are your long term career goals?

This question is aimed at assessing your long-term plans. An employer is not interested in hiring someone who is planning to switch careers in a year’s time and who is merely working as a nurse to fill the gap. In addition they may be less than interested in hiring someone who wants to take over their own job. Be truthful and realistic.

Have you worked or earned degrees under another name?

This could be relevant if you are married or if you have had your name legally changed.

Are you available to work overtime?

Do not answer ‘yes’ unless this is true. You may feel tempted to give the ‘correct’ answer in order to impress, but this strategy will backfire if you have to decline overtime once working for the employer.

How did you become interested in becoming an LPN?

There are no set formulas for this answer. Just tell them why you have chosen this career.

What They Can’t Ask

Questions about religion and religious practices.

Your religion is your own personal business and does not impact on your job as an LPN in any way. You have every right to decline to answer questions on this score.

Questions about social groups or organizations.

The social groups or organizations that you belong to outside of work are your own business and do not impact on your nursing career. You can decline to answer these questions.

What your maiden name was and if you do have or plan to have children?

Sometimes employers are disinclined to hire people who are planning to go on maternity or paternity leave sometime soon, but this is a form of discrimination. You are not required to answer these questions.

If you smoke or drink.

As long as you do it on your own time and not at work, smoking and drinking is your choice.

Character Questions

There is also usually a number of character questions that come up which are designed to subtly ascertain whether or not you have the right personality for being an LPN. These character questions can come in many different forms and often potential employers try to surprise you by asking a question in a way you were not expecting, or asking a strange and unusual question to begin with. Keep a cool head and answer to the best of your ability.

  • How do you handle Irate patients?
  • How do you transfer a patient from a bed to a wheel chair?
  • What is the most valuable knowledge you gained in your career?
  • Tell me about a situation where you showed compassion for a patient.
  • -What qualities do you have that would make you a good nurse?
  • It is your lunch break and you see a resident fall. What do you do?

In the past job interviews were very structured and contained set questions. However, because potential employees can learn the correct responses to these questions, they are not really a true representation of that employee’s abilities or character. Consequently job interviews tend to be more flexible at the moment and employers ask whatever questions are o their mind in whatever format they choose. The best of the LPN job interview tips, then, is to keep a clear head and think before answering, because you can seldom be sure of what you can expect exactly in a job interview context.

Facts About IV Therapy Certification

IV stands for “intravenous” and it effectively refers to those aspects of healthcare that involve inserting a needle into a patient with the intention of removing blood or with the intention of administering medication or another form of treatment directly into the bloodstream. With IV therapy certification you may be eligible for a raise in salary as well as for more advanced job opportunities and a broader career outlook.

Educational Prerequisites

There are a number of educational and other prerequisites that are required in order to enter an IV therapy training program. In order to be accepted into an IV therapy course you must meet the following prerequisites:

  • You must be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN)
  • You must be CPR-certified at the Health Care Provider level
  • You must provide proof of current immunizations
  • You must provide proof of a negative TB test
  • You must provide proof of personal liability insurance
  • You must also submit to criminal background checks

Where To Get Training

You have three options in terms of where you can get your IV therapy certification training:

  • On The Job
  • IV Therapy Courses
  • IV Therapy Certificate Programs

IV therapy is a common task for nurses to perform; so on the job training is useful. Some hospitals offer validation of your IV therapy skills. This will allow you to go on to receive certification by taking the exam. You can also do an IV therapy course which will actually focus on teaching you specific skills related to IV therapy. IV therapy certification programs are similar to IV therapy courses expect that they are far more intensive.IV Therapy Certification Program

Course Topics

There are a number of course topics that you should cover in an IV therapy certification training course, including intravenous therapy maintenance, intravenous catheters, antibiotic therapy, pharmacology, infection control, legal documentation, fluid balance, safe fluid administration and allergic responses. There are, essentially, a large number of different skills and knowledge that you will need to learn in order to do a job like this well. The programs that you select in order to complete your IV therapy certification training should include comprehensive classes in all of these topics as well as in any additional subjects that may be useful for IV therapy certification in your particular state. Online courses should also include these topics.

Job Description

The following are the basic tasks that an IV therapy nurse performs:

  • You will insert intravenous needles
  • You will collect, handle and transport blood
  • You will conduct electrocardiography tests
  • You will administer parenteral nutrition
  • You will administer transfusions
  • You will administer antineoplastic agents.
  • You may work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home or rehabilitation center or provide home care for housebound patients
  • You will inform the patient about the procedure and the purpose of the IV drip
  • You will educate the patient to comply with directives of the treatment plan
  • You will monitor the rate of infusions and adjust the flow to meet the prescribed target rate
  • You will work with the physician and other health-care staff to monitor patient allergic reactions
  • You will work with the physician and other health-care staff to provide emergency care if and when necessary

Popular Career Options

There are a number of different places in which you can work as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse with IV therapy certification. The most popular places include:

  • Hospitals
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Long-term care facilities

Essentially you work anywhere where IV therapy is likely to be administered to patients. IV therapy involves the use of needles, so it is necessary that you are not only comfortable with needles and the sight of blood, but also that you know how to deal with patients under you care who are not comfortable with such things and who need reassurance when undergoing IV therapy of whatever kind and for whatever reason.

Continuing Education And Certification Information

It is interesting to note that IV therapy certification can occur at state level, but also at national level as the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation (INCC) offers national certification for registered nurses who pass the Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI) examination. Generally speaking it is a requirement that you are already an RN in order to receive certification of this kind. However, if you are an LPN who is enrolled in an LPN to RN program at the time that you apply for national certification, you will most likely also be permitted to write the certification exam and become certified to administer IV therapy across the entire country and not merely within your own state.

Summary: Steps To Becoming An IV Therapy Nurse

The following are the basic steps that you can follow in order to become an IV therapy certified nurse:

  • Finish high school and take as many biology, math and chemistry classes as you can while still in school
  • Take a nursing course an become a registered nurse
  • Get hand-son practical training as well as theory training as a surgical nurse
  • Go to a nursing school in order to attain additional training in anatomy and pharmacology to make it easier for you to understand the processes and so on involved in IV therapy
  • As you will need to train others, such as the families of patients, how to administer IV therapy, this is also a skill you should pick up

IV Therapy Certification Through NAPNES

NAPNES stands for “National Association for Practical Nursing Education and Services” and this is an association through which you can get your IV therapy certification. According to the association’s website “NAPNES Certification in Intravenous Therapy (IV Therapy Certification) allows LP/VNs to measure their knowledge against a national test and offers a national, post-licensure credential that many employers ask for by name”. This is definitely one of the better associations through which you can receive certification and the vast majority of employers look upon IV therapy certification from this particular source very favorably indeed. On the association’s website you can apply for certification and find out more about what it takes to become IV certified.


There are a number of fees that may be associated with receiving IV therapy certification through NAPNES. These include:

  • A $100.00 registration fee paid to NAPNES at the time you apply
  • A $60.00 paid to Castle Worldwide for the first try at the certification exam
  • A $50.00 for each additional attempt at the exam after your first try
  • You may purchase study materials at an additional cost to help you pass the exam
  • There are additional fees if you do not take the exam within 60 days of application
  • There are additional fees if a check you send to NAPNES bounces
  • There are late filing penalties in cases where you file for renewal of your certification late
  • A $100 registration fee paid to NAPNES for the IV Therapy exam is also required


The certification that you receive is only valid for three years at which point you will need to apply for re-certification. NAPNES does its best to inform those nurses who need to apply for re-certification that the date is coming up. They will inform nurses via email of this. However in many cases NAPNES does not have your email address. In this case the certification card that you were given the last time you certified will be your reminder. These cards contain an expiration date that you will have to be re-certified by.

Length Of Process

According to the NAPNES website the length of the certification process depends on and can be controlled by you: “Much of the time required will depend on you. Basically it takes NAPNES four to six weeks to process an application. You can reduce this time by using online payments, faxing or emailing applications, etc. DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. The process requires time as we conduct verifications on every application”. The bottom line is that, the sooner you start the application for certification process, the sooner you will be certified. When applying for re-certification make sure that you leave plenty of time for things to go wrong and that you are able to submit all paperwork before the due date.


NAPNES is a nursing association to which you can become a member. However, when it comes to IV therapy certification, there are a number of things to keep in mind:

– Becoming certified is not the same thing as becoming a member. You will need to go through an entirely different process in order to become a member of NAPNES.
– Becoming a member of NAPNES is highly recommended because you will be able to get discounts on study materials and other things.
– Being a member does, however, involve paying membership fees on a regular basis in order to adequately maintain your membership status with the association.


Although NAPNES admits that it is highly likely that you will be able to get a raise at your current job if you have IV therapy certification, there is no way that the association can guarantee that this will happen. It is, essentially, up to your employer. Some of them will give raises, others will not. However, with IV therapy certification, you will be able to apply for jobs that pay higher wages and you will also stand a higher chance of actually receiving those jobs. Even if you certification status does not make a significant difference in your current job it will open the door for you to apply to other jobs.


NAPNES offers an online certification exam that will allow you to become an IV therapy certified nurse. There are a number of thing to keep in mind in relation to this exam:

  • The exam is online and can be taken from anywhere that has an internet connection.
  • There is a time limit on the exam.
  • Because you will need to control your own exam environment it is important that you try to find a computer that you can use in a quiet location.
  • In addition try to choose somewhere where you will not be interrupted while writing the exam.
  • In order to pass the exam you must get a score of 80% or higher.

Online IV Certification

IV certification can be earned online, which is very convenient considering that it is not always easy to give up your job in order to study further. There are a number of different associations and agencies through which you can receive certification. According to “Those earning IV certification are often working professionals. Taking an online IV course offers scheduling convenience. It allows individuals to update their skills on their own time and with the ease of online accessibility”. Training courses of this kind are somewhere between $600 and $700 generally speaking and there are a number of offline and online options that you can make use of in order to adequately prepare yourself for the IV therapy certification exam through NAPNES or through another agency.

There are a number of advantages to becoming IV therapy certified, not least of which is the fact that you may get a raise if you do. In addition there are a number of job openings that you will stand a higher chance of being selected for if you have IV therapy certification. It is, essentially, a qualification that can open many doors for you and earn you a slightly higher degree of professional respect within the nursing industry, which is in itself a very meaningful reward. Different states have different rules regarding IV therapy certification, and it will be our own personal responsibility to look into the rules and regulations in your own state to determine whether you are eligible for the qualification.

All You Need To Know About A Home Healthcare Nurse

What Is A Home Healthcare Nurse?

A home healthcare nurse is a nurse who, instead of working in a hospital, works in patients homes. The main patient demographics that a home healthcare nurse works with are:

  • The elderly who need assistance in getting around and completing basic day-to-day tasks
  • Young children with mobility issues or who are very sick

A home healthcare nurse performs most of the same duties as one who works in a hospital setting, just in a patient’s home.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

The job rule of this type of nurse requires providing basic care to patients who cannot leave their homes. The following are the main tasks that a home healthcare nurse will perform on a regular basis:

  • Work with patients on a long term basis: This gives you the opportunity to build up a relationship with each of your patients and allows you to become fully informed regarding the patient’s needs and physical condition.
  • Help patients regain physical independence: In some cases this is not possible, such in situations where you are nursing an elderly individual. However home healthcare can be rehabilitative and therefore extremely rewarding.
  • Manage patients’ medication: The elderly and children cannot always be relied on to take the correct medications in the correct quantities at the correct times, and, consequently, a home healthcare nurse needs to oversee medication administration.


As a home healthcare nurse your employment opportunities may be slightly limited. This is because with a qualification such as this you can only really work in one of two settings: patient’s homes and nursing homes. Nursing homes are facilities in which patients who cannot care for themselves for medical reasons are taken to live. In this case the home healthcare nurses in question provide the same care as they would in the patient’s actual home, as it is, after all, the place where the patient lives. However as you will also have general training as an RN, and because you will be doing many of the same tasks as a nurse in a hospital or similar healthcare setting, you should be able to seek employment in a number of different settings other than in home healthcare nursing.

Home Healthcare Nurse Requirements

The following are the requirements for becoming a home healthcare nurse:Home Health Care

  • You must get a Nursing Diploma, an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): most programs like these require you to hold a high school diploma before you will be allowed to enter them.
  • You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become an RN.
  • You can then start working as a Home Health Care Registered Nurse – no additional training is needed to be a nurse in this line of work.
  • You must pass your Home Health Care Nurse certification exam through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and then you can become a Certified Home Health Care Nurse.

Personality Traits

This is a line of work that requires you to have a large degree of patience, primarily because the patients you will be working may be elderly or children who do not do things at a speed that you would like them to. This is possibly the most important personality trait for being a home healthcare nurse. Your communication skills also need to be excellent, as in all other areas of nursing, because you will be required to interact with patients, their families, and other health care professionals on a daily basis. An ability to get your message across clearly will therefore be invaluable. Last but not least you need to be able to work well under stress. Nursing jobs in general carry with them a high degree of stress and an ability to handle this stress without affecting your performance and the level of care you provide is therefore essential.

Educational Requirements

The most basic educational requirement is to have a high school diploma or equivalent. To be a home healthcare nurse you need to meet the following educational requirements:

  • You must have a degree in nursing – this is one of the few specializations in nursing that only requires an associate or bachelor’s degree and nothing else.
  • After receiving this degree you will have to complete an exam known as the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as a registered nurse.
  • The areas that you will be tested on in this exam include client needs, health promotion, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity.
  • Specialized training in geriatrics, treatment of disabled patients and cutting edge technologies for home health care can also be useful in this field although it is not a requirement.


In order to become a home healthcare nurse you need to achieve licensure as an RN. Some LPNs are also able to work in home healthcare, although they are usually supervised. An LPN license may help, but an RN license is a better option. To get an RN license you must:

  • Complete an RN training program through an accredited school
  • On completion of the program you can apply to your state board of nursing for licensure as an RN
  • When your state board of nursing confirms that you are eligible to be licensed, set a date with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX-RN examination for a fee of $200
  • Passing the exam will allow you to become licensed

How To Become A Home Healthcare Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

Because there is no additional training required other than receiving your RN qualification, you do not, technically speaking, need to become involved in any advanced training programs for this particular nursing specialty. You can however focus your continuing education credits on topics that will helpful to you in this field. Continuing education credits are necessary courses that must be completed by all nurses in order to maintain their nursing licensure. Sometimes your state will specify the content of the courses that you must take, but often you are free to choose. Consequently a focus in gerontology nursing may, for example, be a good continuing education credit to take. If you take continuing education courses that are in line with the line of nursing you have chosen, you will also increase your chances for finding employment.

Source An Accredited Education Program

It is essential that the program you complete your nursing training through is accredited. You can find accredited programs in your area by:

  • Visit the website of your state board of nursing. Here there should be a list of programs in your state that are accredited. You can also make specific enquiries into the accreditation status of any schools that you already have an interest in.
  • Speak with nurses who are already working as RNs or in home healthcare as they will be able to tell you about the accredited programs that they attended to get where they are today.
  • You should also be able to enquire directly at the school you are interested in about its accreditation status, but this should always be double checked by enquiring at the state board of nursing.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

5this is one of the few nursing specialties in which earning an associate’s degree is enough to get you qualified. An associate’s degree allows you to become an RN and therefore allows you to work in home healthcare and become certified. Of course if you have a higher degree you may earn more and be hired for more jobs, but an associate’s degree is the basic qualification that you need. To earn an associate’s degree:

  • Create a shortlist of schools in your area based on their reputation and your personal desires
  • Apply to at least three different schools to keep your options open
  • Complete all of the course requirements as specified by your chosen program
  • Graduating from the program will earn you an associate’s degree in nursing and pave your way to being a home healthcare nurse

Obtain Your Licensure

The only license that you need in order to be a home healthcare nurse is your RN license. However you do have the options of becoming certified. You can become certified by passing the Home Health Care Nurse certification exam through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Becoming certified in home healthcare nursing is not a requirement, but it will make a difference to your employment opportunities. Employers are far more likely to hire a home healthcare nurse who is certified over one who isn’t, although you should still be able to get work if you are not certified. Being certified also makes it clear that you are an expert in the field and brings with it a higher degree of respect for you and for your chosen line of work in the health care profession.

Online/Distance Education Programs

There are online options when it comes to earning an RN degree, but you need to be very careful when considering this learning method. You will have to complete your clinical training in an actual healthcare setting, so there is no way that a nursing degree can be completed entirely online. You can, however, complete your theoretical training online while completing a practical internship elsewhere. This is easier for many students to fit into their schedule than a full time training program. The school you attend must be accredited. It is often better to only consider online programs that also offer on-campus training because these schools tend to have a better reputation as well as better credentials than schools that only offer RN training degree programs online.

Job Outlook

There are a number of reasons why we can expect an excellent job outlook for home healthcare nurses in the very near future:

  • The Boomer generation is so there will be an increase in elderly people who may need home health care as they age
  • Many people have expressed that they prefer to be cared for at home and home health care is therefore becoming more common
  • The advancement of technologies that allow nurses to perform complex procedures outside of a hospital setting also play a role

Nursing in general is expected to grow by about 22% but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 33% growth rate for home health care nurses, making it one of the fastest growing careers in the United States.


As a home healthcare nurse you can expect an hourly rate of about $17.99 – $43.44 an hour. When you factor in the potential for overtime at $9.21 – $73.45 an hour as well as the possibility for an annual bonus of anything between $0.00 and $3,020, the total amount you could earn is $34,485 – $86,261 a year. A number of factors affect how much you can earn. The industry you work in is one of these factors:

  • In Home Health Care you can earn about $18.51 – $43.68 an hour
  • In Healthcare can earn about $16.20 – $40.20 an hour
  • In a Nursing Home can earn about $18.52 – $38.27 an hour
  • In Community Nursing can earn about $13.50 – $44.17 an hour
  • In Nurse Staffing can earn about $14.33 – $42.25 an hour

Your degree will also affect how much you earn:

  • With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) you can expect to earn about $23.84 – $51.06 an hour
  • With an Associate’s Degree you can expect to earn about $21.02 – $30.91 an hour

Becoming a home healthcare nurse offers a very compelling salary. In addition you will not necessarily be tied down by the same schedule as you would in a hospital and you would probably be working in slightly more comfortable conditions. Home healthcare nurses are able to work with the same patients for long periods of time, which allows them to build up a real and meaningful relationship with them.

Looking At Becoming An Ambulatory Care Nurse

What Is Ambulatory Care Nursing?

Ambulatory care nursing refers to nursing activities that occur outside the healthcare setting. Ambulatory care nurses are any nurses that move from home to home or other settings outside a hospital to provide care. These are their primary tasks:

  • Pain management for patients with chronic injuries or illness
  • General health education for patients with chronic injuries or illness

An ambulatory care nurse needs to be prepared to move from place to place frequently.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

According to the following are the main tasks of an ambulatory care nurse:

  • Provide healthcare to patients with varying illnesses or injuries.
  • Promote healthcare and health maintenance to patients.
  • Educate patients on how to manage their injury or illness at home.
  • Provide healthcare either face to face with patients or over the phone or internet.
  • Assist patients preventing and managing illnesses.

The main purpose, then, is to assist patients in settings outside of the hospital and to ensure that they are well equipped to deal with the condition or injury that they are suffering from at that point in time. Ultimately the idea is to allow patients to function as optimally as possible in an environment where healthcare professionals will not be on hand.


Because this line of work is so broad, there are a number of different places in which an ambulatory nurse can be employed, including:Ambulatory Care Nursing

  • Ambulances
  • Day Surgery Units
  • Ambulatory Care Surgeries
  • Physicians Offices
  • Community Centers
  • Schools
  • Workplaces
  • Home Care
  • Clinics
  • Health Insurance Companies (where you may provide health care advice via telephone or the internet)
  • The Government (where you may provide health care advice via telephone or the internet)

In addition, if you ever become tired of working in such a mobile area of nursing and decide to settle down in a fixed location or industry, you will have all of the experience and training needed to become a general nurse or to perhaps even pursue an alternative specialty in the field.

Ambulatory Care Nursing Requirements

The following requirements must be met in order to become an ambulatory care nurse:

  • You must be a qualified Registered Nurse (RN)
  • You must have a minimum of two years of experience working as an RN

Note: Although there is no additional training required to become an Ambulatory Care Nurse, certification is available. In addition, in most states certification is preferred.

Certification can be gained by:

  • Documenting 2,000 hours (1 year full-time) experience in Ambulatory Care Nursing within the last three years
  • Completing 30 hours of Ambulatory Care Nursing Continuing Education within the last three years

Gaining certification will noticeably improve your chances of employment in this line of nursing. Even though it is not required by all employers they are still more likely to consider you if you have certification.

Personality Traits

There is always a personality component involved when discussing requirements for a position. In the case of ambulatory care nursing there are two main personality requirements:

  • Great interpersonal skills are an essential personality trait for this line of work. This is because you will be spending long periods of time interacting with patients and their families. When doing this you must be pleasant and compassionate as well as professional and direct at the same time.
  • You should be able to think clearly under pressure because you will often need to make important decisions and establish care plans quickly and accurately.

In addition the general personality traits considered to be necessary in all nurses, such as empathy, conscientiousness and compassion, should also be present in your disposition and character.

Educational Requirements

In order to be an ambulatory care nurse you must:

  • Have a diploma in nursing, OR
  • Have an associate’s degree in nursing, OR
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in nursing

The higher your level of education the more luck you will have entering the nursing profession in this particular area of specialty. As mentioned previously there are no additional educational requirements that are necessary for becoming an ambulatory care nurse, but certification is recommended. After working for two years as a Registered Nurse with 2,000 hours of clinical practice in ambulatory care and 30 hours of continued education you can take the certification exam that will allow you to ‘officially’ be an ambulatory care nurse health care specialist.

American Nurses Credentialing Center
600 Maryland Ave., SW, #100
Washington, DC 20024-2571


As mentioned previously no additional educational or licensure is a requirement for being an ambulatory care nurse, but you will need to hold an RN license. To get an RN license you must first complete the educational requirements for being an ambulatory care nurse. Completing those requirements will allow you to apply for licensure with your state board of nurse. Once you application is approved you can set a date to write the exam with Pearson VUE, the body that monitors and controls the licensing of RNs. Study hard and pass the examination. When your state board of nursing receives confirmation that you passed, you will be licensed and able to practice as an RN. Go on to gain the necessary experience in ambulatory care and perhaps pursue certification in this nursing specialty to improve your career options.

How To Become An Ambulatory Care Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

In addition to the basic nursing training that you will need to become an ambulatory care nurse, it is also suggested that you pursue training in the following:

  • Phlebotomy
  • IV therapy
  • ECG
  • Triage and telephone advice
  • Teaching

This can be achieved by very carefully selecting the continuing education courses that you would like to complete in order to retain your RN licensure. With proof that you have completed additional training in one or more of the above areas, you will stand a higher chance of receiving employment in the domain of ambulatory care nursing, and it is highly recommended that, in any area of nursing specialty, that you constantly attempt to improve your skills and knowledge by making the most of the many additional educational opportunities available.

Source An Accredited Education Program

The degree that you complete in order to become a registered nurse or RN must be done through an accredited school. By failing to ascertain the accreditation status of the school that you plan to attend you could be jeopardizing your planned career. At the very least you will be required to pay for and complete an additional program in order to receive a qualification that will earn you the right to become an ambulatory care nurse. Your state board of nursing will be able to provide you with a list of schools that a reaccredited as well as answer any queries that you may have about specific nursing programs that you have heard of an are interested in attending. Current nurses are also good sources of information regarding the accredited schools in your area.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in nursing is a great qualification to start off with as it is sufficient for becoming an ambulatory care nurse. To earn this degree:

  • Make a short list of all of the schools in your area that offer associate degrees in nursing and that meet your requirements.
  • Once you have made this list it is wise to apply to at least three of the schools to speed up the acceptance process.
  • Choose a school to attend and complete all of the theoretical and clinical work required to the best of your ability by working hard and remaining dedicated.
  • Graduation from the program means that you will have an associate’s degree in nursing and you can continue on your way to becoming a nurse with a specialization in ambulatory care.

Obtain Your Licensure

The only formal license that is needed in order to be an ambulatory care nurse is an RN license. This can be obtained through the steps mentioned previously. In addition you have the option of attaining certification as an ambulatory care nurse, although this is not a requirement in many states. Certification can be gained by documenting 2,000 hours (1 year full-time) experience in Ambulatory Care Nursing within the last three years. Additionally certified ambulatory care nurses must also have completed 30 hours of Ambulatory Care Nursing Continuing Education within the last three years. It must also be noted that this certification status is a requirement in certain states and cannot be avoided. What this means for you is that you need to be aware of what the protocol is for your particular state.

Online/Distance Education Programs

Online or distance education programs may seem very attractive to you because of the convenient nature of being able to study from homes. However it must be noted that such programs only allow you to complete part of your qualification. This is because a nursing qualification consists of two aspects:

  • Theoretical work
  • Clinical work

Clearly, then, the clinical work cannot be completed in an online environment as it requires that you engage in hands-on training in an actual health care setting. However you will be able to complete the theoretical portion of your studies through an online school, which will go quite a long way to helping you relieve the burden of studying to be a neonatal nurse. Like with brick and mortar schools, online schools must be accredited with the relevant bodies.

Job Outlook

Recent technology allows doctors to perform more surgical procedures in ambulatory clinics, which has created an increased need for Ambulatory Care Nurses. Ambulatory care nurses now need to have a higher level of expertise and an ability to work well in these environments and with this technology. In short, as the job becomes more specific and skilled, the better the job prospects will be for nurses trained as ambulatory nurses, as the work cannot be done by just anyone. The 22% increase that we expect to see across the nursing profession from 2011 to 2018 is expected to be even higher for ambulatory care nurses because of the following two important factors:

  • A rising elderly population
  • An increased emphasis on preemptive health care

Both of these factors mean that there will be more work for ambulatory care nurses.


The national average salary of an ambulatory care nurse is $50,000. This figure may be slightly lower or slightly higher depending on:

  • Where the job is located
  • How much previous experience a potential candidate may have

These are the two main factors that play a role in the salary that you may earn. In addition you will find that some states simply tend to pay more or less than others, which means that you may find yourself earning far less or far more than a friend in another state. In some cases your gender may play role, but the main factor is location, and this includes the employer you work for and the specific industry that you work in. Overall the salary is fairly good, making this one of the better job options for a nurse to consider.

This is certainly a line of work that will increase in terms of job opportunities in the very near future. Nurses who are well suited for ambulatory care nursing are those who do not like to be tied down in the same setting and who prefer to go out there and meet many people. However the drawback is that you will deal with patients briefly and be unable to get to know them well. Some nurses see this supposed drawback as an advantage, so it really does depend on your personality and what you want to get out of your nursing experience.

What Is A Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse?

What Is A Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse?

A cardiac catheterization lab nurse is essentially a nurse who is skilled at dealing with cardiac issues. Cardiac relates to the heart and one of the primary purposes of the cardiac catheterization lab nurse is to diagnose the exact problem that the patient may be suffering from. In addition to identifying the problem the nurse is also responsible to a large degree for the treatment procedures that are involved in treating the patient and will be actively engaged in any surgical procedures that may be deemed necessary as a result of the cardiac problem being experienced. Other things that a cardiac catheterization lab nurse may do is implant pace makers. In order to be a nurse of this description you have to hold an RN qualification as well as an RN license.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

The main duties of cardiac catheterization lab nurses include providing care to patients in Intensive Care Units, Cardiac Care Units or ICU, CCU or Cardiac Catheterization Lab until they are discharged, operating any treatment equipment needed to treat the patient, administering Intravenous therapy (making an IV certification qualification very helpful), medicating patients according to the instructions of the doctor, acquiring and maintaining patients records, and updating patients charts, executing a needs assessment of the patient’s condition and status, getting patients ready for medical procedures, monitoring patients’ vital signs, and educating other healthcare professionals about Cardiac Catheterization. In short it is a job that carries with it a high degree of responsibility. Along with this responsibility comes more recognition as well as, usually, an increase in the salary you are eligible to earn.Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nursing


There are three main settings in which you will be able to work as a cardiac catheterization care nurse:

  • Cardiac Catheterization Lab of hospitals
  • Intensive Care Units (ICUs)
  • Cardiac Care Units (CCUs)

The first, namely the Cardiac Catheterization Lab in your hospital, is by far the most common setting in which nurses with this specialization are employed. Employment in this line of work is extremely good at the moment as the health care industry is one that is always on the increase. In addition expanding technology is making it easier for heart ailments to be adequately treated. Consequently more and more nurses with specialized skills in this area are needed in order to meet the growing demand for advanced health care in cardiac units and other settings where cardiac issues are dealt with.

Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse Requirements

There are a number of requirements involved in becoming a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. For example it is a prerequisite that you hold a current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States, although there are a number of legally recognized equivalents from other countries that you could also hold. In addition to that you must have at least two years of experience working as an RN. Qualifying as a cardiac nurse also requires you to have at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice in cardiovascular nursing within the last three years. Last but not least you must have 30 hours of continuing education (CE) in cardiac vascular nursing within the last three years. Considering the number of requirements, it is possible that it will take you a fairly long time to become qualified.

Personality Traits

Cardiac catheterization lab nurses need to have the same personality traits as all other nurses in general. Some traits that are specifically helpful for this career are:

  • An ability to maintain an alert and professional attitude at all times
  • An ability to make potentially life-saving and critical decisions that may be based on little information
  • An Ability to think on your feet

Heart disease and ailments can be extremely serious, and often the problem can be alleviated or even cured if it is caught early enough. As a cardiac catheterization lab nurse you will have to think and act quickly enough to aid your patient effectively and efficiently in situations that are highly stressful. An ability to function well in these situations will be extremely helpful if you plan to pursue this specialization.

Educational Requirements

As with all nursing specialties there are a number of educational requirements that you will need to meet. Essentially this career requires completing a nursing degree. In order to get into nursing degrees you need to have a high school diploma or an equivalent thereof, making this the most basic educational requirement. There are two educational routes that you can choose to take in order to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse:

  • An intensive two-year associate’s degree training from a vocational school or community college
  • A four-year bachelor’s degree program at a university

Your training will include such topics as:

  • Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Diagnostic techniques
  • Other basic nursing techniques


In order to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse you must hold an RN license. This can be earned by:

  • Applying for licensure: applications must be made to your state board of nursing – note that different states may have different application requirements.
  • Paying the fee for the NCLEX-RN exam: this is usually about $200.
  • Receiving notice of eligibility for taking the exam: this notice will be provided by your state board of nursing; do not set an exam date until you have received this information.
  • Making an appointment to take the exam: the organization that administers the exam is called Pearson VUE and it is with them that you must set a date.
  • Finally taking the exam: passing the exam will earn you licensure from the board.

How To Become A Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

In order to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse you will need to have on the job training. Nursing in general is an extremely hands-on career and you will struggle to fully understand your role if you do not complete the required clinical training. You will be assigned to a hospital setting where you will work under the supervision of a qualified nurse or a mentor. Through this you will be able to learn the basic skills you need to be a nurse of this description, such as highly specialized knowledge about the heart, such as its anatomy, physiology, diseases and treatments. This is what on the job training in cardiac catheterization will prepare you for. Without this knowledge you will be unable to do the job to the best of your ability.

Source An Accredited Education Program

The program through which you do your nursing training must be accredited. If it is not accredited you will be unable to achieve licensure and will most likely have to begin a new program from scratch. Finding accredited programs can be done in the following ways:

  • Speak to your state board of nursing about accredited schools in general or ask them to provide you with accreditation information on the specific schools that you are interested in attending.
  • Secondly you should speak to current RN nurses and ask them about where they did their training – if their program was not accredited they would not be working as RNs.
  • The school itself should provide this information openly and accurately, but it is still better to always double check its claims, just to be sure.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

Earning your associate’s degree will eventually allow you to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse as this is enough to allow you to become an RN. In order to complete an associate’s degree you need to start by looking into your options. Before you review the list of schools in your area that offer the qualification, be sure to create a list of criteria that you would like your ideal school to meet. Apply to at least three schools offering associate’s degrees in nursing in order to keep your options open. When you are accepted, select the school that more closely matches your criteria and enroll by paying the required tuition fees. Completing the degree program and meeting all course requirements will allow you to successfully graduate with an associate’s degree.

Obtain Your Licensure

In addition to receiving your RN license you also need to have certification as a cardiac catheterization lab nurse before you will be employed in this sector of nursing. RCIS certification is for nurses actively working in a cath lab. Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI) certifies Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists (RCIS). CCI also places nurses on a registry list upon completion of the required examination. To get this certification you must:

  • Have a high school diploma
  • Provide proof that you completed an accredited nursing program
  • Provide proof of your work experience in a cath lab

Certification requires that you take an exam at a cost of about $350. The certification exam will cover all of the basics of nursing in this field, and your certification will be valid for a period of three years.

Online/Distance Education Programs

It is possible to do a portion of your nursing training online. However, because the job is so hands-on, there is a large portion of clinical work that you will be required to complete in a physical, hands-on, practical setting. This simply cannot be done online. When considering online programs, stick to those that are affiliated with a brick and mortar school that has a good reputation or that offer options to you for completing your clinical portion of your course at an affiliated school or health care facility. Studying the theoretical portion of your course online can be more flexible as well as cheaper, and often this is a way to complete your course a little faster as well. In addition you will be able to work at your own pace and in your own time.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for nursing in general is extremely good, and jobs in this field are expected to increase at a faster rate than all other industries. As a cardiac catheterization lab nurse you will spend about two years in the ER, ICU or coronary care unit before working in the cardiac cath lab. It is important to remember that the more experience you have, the more marketable you will be. Having a specialization in cardiac nursing can make a significant difference to your job outlook as you will not only be marketable as a general nurse with all of the skills that come with it, but also as a specialized nurse who can be employed in highly intensive environments. You will, in short, have a significantly increased pool of jobs to consider.


Cardiac catheterization lab nurses earn extremely good salaries. In fact at $90,000 a year, their salaries are 27% higher than average salaries for all job postings nationwide. This makes it a very attractive nursing specialization to pursue. The average salaries for jobs with related titles are as follows:

  • RN Pediatrics: $162,000
  • Operating Room Manager: $108,000
  • RN For Hospital: $67,000
  • Cardiac Cath Lab RN: $60,000
  • RN Cath: $99,000
  • Emergency Room Registered Nurse: $88,000
  • RN Inpatient Cath Lab: $85,000
  • RN Supervisor Charge Nurse: $61,000
  • Cardiovascular Lab Manager: $66,000

There are a number of advantages to becoming a cardiac catheterization lab nurse, among which are the high salary you will be eligible to earn and the improved career outlook that holding this specialization in nursing will bring you. A specialization in any area of nursing can improve your job options significantly, but this is one of the better and more popular options to choose. However, because it is popular, you may face a fair amount of competition when it comes to getting a job in this industry. As specializations go, this is one of the least intensive in terms of educational requirements and the time it may take to become certified in the field.

An Emergency Or Trauma Nurse

As an LPN there are a number of options open to you when it comes to deciding what your specialization in the field will be. One of those options is to become an Emergency / Trauma Nurse. An emergency or trauma nurse is one that deals with patients that have suffered a traumatic event, such as a car accident, and who are in a critical condition. There are a number of things to keep in mind when considering this specialization.

What Is An Emergency/Trauma Nurse?

To be a trauma/emergency nurse you have to have an RN qualification. So you, as an LPN, have a few steps to take in order to become qualified in this regard. A trauma nurse is one that deals with emergency medical situations that arrive at the emergency room of the healthcare facility or hospital where you work. Before you will be able to specialize in this field you will have to have sent a great many years working in ICU or in the ER in order to have enough experience in the field. It is a highly stressful and emotional job that does not suit everyone.

Nature of the Work/Duties

There are a number of basic things that you will have to do if you choose to advance from your current role as an LPN to that of an RN with specialization in trauma nursing:

  • You will be the first person to see the patient you will therefore need to be able to respond quickly and accurately to the emergency situation as it presents itself
  • After the initial response period is over and the patient is handed over the trauma nurse must assess the patient and provide other professionals with a plan of action moving forward
  • Your responsibilities as a trauma nurse will include stabilizing the patient
  • A trauma nurse is responsible for preparing equipment that the doctor will need to see to the patient
  • Last but not least you will be require to communicate with the patient’s family


There are several employment opportunities out there for trauma nurses as there are for professionals in all walks of the health care profession. In every state you will find great opportunities open to you. Generally speaking trauma nurses are employed in hospitals and on ambulances predominantly. These are fast-paced settings that you will need to be prepared to handle and keep up with in your daily tasks as a trauma nurse. If you have the necessary qualifications, you will find getting a job in a trauma room to be easy enough. Hospitals will often take any RN, but if you have the specialization certification you will stand out as an expert in the field and will be considered for jobs first in emergency care settings.

Emergency/Trauma Nurse Requirements

In order to become a trauma nurse there are a number of requirements that you will have to meet. The educational and experience requirements are considered to be the most important of these requirements. You have to have attained a certain level of education before you can become a trauma room nurse. In addition you also need to have completed a specific number of years of experience in the field of emergency nursing. However, something that a lot of nurses do not realize, is that you personality plays an important role in your ability to do this job, and you therefore need to consider the various personality requirements as well. Becoming a trauma nurse is something that you will have to gradually build your way up to.Trauma Nurse

Personality Traits

There are a number of personality traits that you will need if you want to advance to the level of an emergency nurse:

  • Firstly you need to be able to keep a cool head and think on your feet, making judgments as quickly as possible. In an emergency situation there will not be a lot of time to think.
  • You will need to be detail oriented in order to make the best decisions, but not so focused on detail that you take too long to make a decision.
  • You will need to be able to balance your compassion for the patient with the objectivity that is required to help them.
  • It is essential that you are able to work well in a team.

Educational Requirements

As mentioned previously, you have to be an RN in order to become a trauma nurse. So, there are a few educational steps that you will have to go through:

  • Get your high school diploma
  • Enter an LPN program and become a licensed and qualified LPN
  • Enter an RN degree program and become a licensed and qualified RN


  • Get your high school diploma
  • Enter a four year RN degree program (and skip the LPN step)

To become an RN you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination that will allow you to apply for licensing. You also need to ensure that the program through which you train is a genuine and accredited one that can be trusted.


There are a few steps to achieving your trauma nurse license:

  • Become a nurse and earn either and associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school
  • Sit the required national examinations
  • Become a licensed nurse and get work experience
  • On the job training and perhaps some theory training will need to be completed
  • Work in the ER and sit the exam to become a Certified Emergency Nurse
  • Train to become a trauma nurse through the American Emergency Nursing Association course (the Trauma Nurse Core Course)

As you can see becoming a licensed emergency/trauma nurse is not something that you will be able to do without a considerable time commitment to the process involved.

How To Become An Emergency/Trauma Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

There are a number of education options open to you to become a trauma nurse. You can engage in four or five years of study at a college or university, you can do one year of training to become a Licensed Practiced Nurse (LPN) and use it as a stepping stone, doing an LPN to RN bridge program, you can do a two year program in a junior or community college, combined with some hospital training to become an LPN on your way to becoming a fully fledged RN who can specialize, or you can do a three year program run by a hospital or school based on nursing. Remember that as a trauma nurse you can also advance your career to a management position.

Source An Accredited Education Program

You absolutely have to attend an accredited emergency/trauma nurse training program if you want to become certified. There are two professional bodies that offer certified programs:

  • The Emergency Nurses Association
  • The Society of Trauma Nurses

A good program will include the following essential coursework and training:

  • Initial assessment of patients
  • Ventilation
  • Shock and disaster management
  • Mechanisms of injury
  • How to treat trauma to specific areas of the body
  • How to treat pregnant, elderly and pediatric trauma patients

If these aspects are not covered in the program the chances are higher that the program is not in fact accredited. If the program is not accredited your qualifications will not be taken seriously and your certification will most likely not go through.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

Once you have found a school that meets all of the above mentioned requirements for accreditation you will need to get to work earning your associate’s degree (although many schools will offer a bachelor’s degree instead of an associate’s degree). An associate’s degree can take a number of years to complete and will require both theoretical and hands-on practical training before you can pass the program and receive your degree at the end of the day. This is the minimum educational requirement that you will need in order to be a licensed trauma nurse. You could also, for example, go as far as earning your master’s degree and becoming a real expert in the field, and perhaps even teaching the skills involved to other nurses.

Get your License

To get your license as a trauma nurse you will need to:

  • Work in a trauma nursing setting as much as possible to get experience
  • Take courses to keep your skill level up, such as the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) that is offered by the Emergency Nurses Association
  • Write an exam to get certification relevant to trauma nursing, such as the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) certification
  • Get your master’s degree as this will give you a further edge when it comes to competing for a job in the trauma nursing field – the more qualifications you have and the higher your level of training, the better your chances of getting your dream job

Online/Distance Education Programs

When training to be an LPN with a specialization in emergency or trauma room nursing you may come across training programs that offer the course online. There are some advantages to this:

  • You will be able to work at your own pace and according to your own schedule
  • It tends to be cheaper
  • It tends to be more flexible

However, as with a brick and mortar school, you need to ensure that the online or distance education program is properly accredited.

There are several different online emergency/trauma nurse programs to choose from, such as the one offered by ENA (the Emergency Nurse Association). More information about this program can be found at the associations’ website:

Emergency/Trauma Nurse Job Outlook

The job outlook for a trauma nurse is very good indeed, and it is a good job for an LPN to eventually aim for in their career. The field will grow as much as 23% from 2006 to 2016, which means that as time goes on there will be more jobs for trauma nurses available, not less. This expected growth is higher than what you would see in most other fields, making trauma nursing one of the safest jobs for you to aim for if job stability is an important aspect in your life. Once you have met the educational requirements for being a trauma nurse you will also have a number of advancement opportunities in management and teaching positions open to you in the nursing filed.

Emergency/Trauma Nurse Earnings

The hourly rate that you can expect to earn as an emergency/trauma nurse is in the region of 20.67 – $39.07 depending on a number of factors such as your experience and the state or city you work in. The average overtime that you should be paid is between $18.12 and $59.90, again depending on the aforementioned factors. Trauma nurses can receive anything from $0.00 to $2,531 as a bonus. The total pay that you could earn varies from about $43,404 to $86,694 a year. The cities that pay the highest hourly rates are:

  • Oakland, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Sacramento, California
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Modesto, California
  • Orange, California
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Fresno, California
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Diego, California
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • New York, New York
  • Riverside, California
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Washington, District of Columbia
  • Long Beach, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

There are, as you can see, a number of things for you to keep in mind if you intent to be an Emergency / Trauma Nurse. Perhaps the most important one mentioned here is the list of personality requirements. No matter how well trained you are for the job you will struggle to survive the emotional rollercoaster that the job brings with it if you do not have the right personality for the position. If you think you can handle the pressure, only then should you continue pursuing the specialization in this filed. If you do not think that you have what it takes you should perhaps consider an alternative option in the health care profession and in the LPN filed in particular.