Critical Care and Emergency Care Nurses Careers

Critical care nurses and emergency nurses play significant roles in treatment of patients. Critical care nurses focus on the provision of medical care to acutely sick patients (A. A. C.C N, 2012). Critically ill individuals are unstable. Their conditions can abruptly change. The critical care nurses provide medical care for these individuals to help them deal with the conditions that affect them. They work in intensive care units, progressive care units and critical care units. The emergency room nurses are the nurses that patients meet first whenever they visit the emergency rooms (SawyerSchool, 2012). They are highly trained and are able to work in a fast-paced environment. This paper makes a comparison of the two nursing fields.

Critical care nurses work in the critical care units like the ICU, PCU and CCU. Conversely, emergency room nurses work in the emergency rooms. Critical care nurses offer specialized care. Patients admitted in these units are usually in critical conditions. They require strict observation and wide medication therapies and protocols. This is different from care offered in the emergency rooms. Emergency room nurses work in hospitals and clinics and offer the first medical care that patients receive in hospitals. Additionally, the emergency room nurses work for longer hours than the critical care nurses do since emergency rooms operate throughout the day.

Critical care nurses usually act in the best interest of the patients. They respect the beliefs, values and rights of patients that they care for. They teach patients and their family members how to manage medical conditions that affect them (A. A. C.C N, 2012). Furthermore, they interact with a patient’s family members and other medical care practitioners who the patient had visited to solve the problems that patients face. Through such interactions, critical care nurses can determine reasons for patients’ admission that cannot be easily determined. This means that they advocate for the patients. However, emergency room nurses do not offer patient advocacy. Emergency room nurses simply offer initial medical care and assessment. They assess patients’ conditions, perform required procedures and administer medications. Emergency room nurses interview and examine patients to ascertain what patients require from a medical team. Others provide medical care to the ill as they are moved to the hospital (SawyerSchool, 2012).

Critical care nurses work in controlled environments. Control of the environment is necessary due to the critical nature of patients in ICUs, PCUs and CCUs (A. A. C.C N, 2012). This ensures that patients in critical conditions are in environments that promote recovery. Additionally, they work individually, but under the supervision of a physician. However, the environment in which emergency room nurses work is uncontrolled. Emergency rooms receive patients who are victims of accidents and require immediate attention, hence the uncontrolled nature of emergency rooms. Emergency room nurses work in teams. This is different from how critical care nurses work.

Additionally, emergency room nurses offer short-term management of medical conditions to patients. They dress wounds, administer medications and provide services that take a short time to complete (SawyerSchool, 2012). Conversely, critical care nurses provide long-term management of medical conditions to patients. The conditions of critically ill patients may change abruptly. Therefore, nurses must be ready to respond to any changes. Hence, the care is long-term. Critical care nurses have adequate knowledge about pathophysiology of intricate diseases. Additionally, they have adequate knowledge on how to manage these complex illnesses (A. A. C.C N, 2012). Moreover, they have knowledge of long-term effects of drugs, sedation and ICU related disorders. These are not necessary for the emergency rooms nurses.

Critical care nurses use hi-tech equipment to monitor the progress of patients. They are trained in telemetry. Telemetry is the use of computerized systems to monitor and collect vital information about patients’ conditions. Moreover, they provide specialized care for critically ill patients. Thus, they specialize in various fields of medical care such as pediatric or neonatal critical care. However, the emergency room nurses do not use hi-tech equipment (SawyerSchool, 2012). Furthermore, they do not specialize in various fields of medical care.

Both critical care and emergency nurses hold either a diploma or a degree certificate in nursing. Additionally, both critical care and emergency nurses must undertake and pass National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). They have to undertake this examination after completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Emergency nurses must also acquire a current state license before they start practicing. Moreover, for emergency nurses, the higher the degree level, the higher the chances for advancement in career. However, this is different for critical care nurses. Individuals who would like to become critical care nurses must have an experience of more than 1,750 hours after completion of their degree courses (A. A. C.C N, 2012). Additionally, people who would like to become critical care nurses must provide professional reference that states that they meet required experience. Finally, a person who would like to develop a career as a critical care nurse must acquire 875 hours of experience within the first year that he or she makes a CCRN application. Critical Care Registered Nurses (CCRN) is a certificate that is offered to critical care nurses.

The aim of this paper was to compare critical care and emergency care nurses careers. It has managed to compare the two medical care fields. It focused on the work environments that the two types of nurses work, the duties that they undertake and educational requirements. There exist differences between the two nursing fields. However, the education and skills acquired by the two types of nurses are almost similar. Critical care and emergency room nurses are registered nurses and hold bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees or diploma certificates. Moreover, both undergo an examination that enables them to obtain licenses. Both critical care and emergency room nurses have several years of experience in nursing and can make speedy decisions. Finally, both use similar procedural skills in treatment of patients and death and resuscitations are common in both fields.


A.A.C.N. (2012). About Critical Care Nursing. Web.

SawyerSchool. (2012). ER Nurse Job Description. Web.

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