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Critical Care Nursing Courses and Classes Information

A critical care nurse is a registered nurse who has earned a certification in the critical care specialty. Critical care nurses treat patients who are acutely ill or have life-threatening conditions. They provide support to family members as well. Get details about some of the most common types of critical and acute care nursing classes.

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Essential Information

Critical care nursing courses are typically only open to existing registered nurses or graduates of a nursing program. College classes are available through undergraduate certificate programs and may range from 9-19 credits. Medical center internships and residencies in critical care nursing are other options. Nurses interested in studying critical or acute care at the nurse practitioner level can apply to graduate certificate or Master of Science in Nursing programs, which often offer specializations in pediatrics or adult-gerontology. Courses combine classroom studies with practical experiences, including possible rotations in trauma, cardiac care, surgical intensive care and neuro care units.

List of Common Courses

The following course descriptions provide an overview of the most common critical care nursing classes.

Introductory Critical Care Practice

In this class, critical care nursing students learn the procedures for performing physical examinations and taking medical histories from patients. They learn the necessity of infection control, including safety and sanitation skills. They learn to interpret the results of X-rays, perform tracheotomies and treat patients on ventilators. They also study the parts and functions of the pulmonary, gastrointestinal, endocrine, cardiovascular and renal systems.

Health Assessment

Health assessment and health screening techniques for critically ill patients are examined in this course. Students focus on patients' mental and physical health, nutrition, family relationships, sleep patterns and growth. Students are also trained to recognize the signs of patient neglect, abuse, pain and substance abuse, as well as critical and chronic conditions.

Health Diagnosis

This course teaches diagnostic skills. Students learn to identify potentially life-threatening conditions, chronic illnesses, addictive diseases, and mental health problems. Students become proficient in ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests. They learn the diagnostic procedures and technical skills needed to determine patients' medical conditions.

Treatment Planning

In this class, students plan interventions for patients with deteriorating health, which may include administering life support. They oversee patients' response to life support measures and learn to modify their treatment plans as a patient's condition changes. Students learn to insert tubes, suture wounds, and monitor respiratory and nutritional support.

Advanced Critical Care Nursing Theory

Nursing students in this class are trained in disease and health management techniques. The course focuses on research and theory, and on the development of critical thinking skills. Students gain experience in attending to the critical health concerns of patients and their families. !Critical Care Nursing Practicum Students learn to apply the nursing theories they've learned in this hands-on practicum course. Topics in communication, advanced nursing procedures and interacting with professionalism are explored. In addition, students will have the opportunity to work alongside nursing professionals to improve their patient care skills.

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