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Critical Care Continuing Education Options

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by VicRN VicRN (New) New Nurse

VicRN specializes in ER.

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Hello everyone, 

I am a new grad RN from Canada. I started my career in the ED and have been working in this speciality for just over a year. I accepted a position at a hospital in the ED in Maine. Prior to moving I was going to take a critical care course at a college in Canada and hopefully transition to ICU or to a level 1 trauma centre. I am very interested in continuing my education in critical care, I am wondering about what opportunities there are in the states to get certified in critical care or take courses that are accredited. 

I was doing some research and came across the AACN, but I don't quite understand what they do. Do they offer courses/programs? or do you just write an exam to become certified in critical care after have a certain amount of experience?

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I am a AACN member, and I also hold my CCRN certification.  The AACN is a great organization for Critical Care Nurses.  They have an excellent Journal that they release each month, featuring evidence-based practice and new insight on patient care.  The offer many CE opportunities too. And, they sponsor the huge annual conference for Critical Care Nurses, called NTI.  They also offer support and learning aids for taking the certification exams.  There are hourly practice requirements, before you can take the test.  I think it is 2000 hours of recent ICU bedside practice.  And the exam is rigorous.  But, after a decade in the ICU, I finally jumped in and took the exam.

To become an ICU RN, you usually need experience in a related area.  ED, Intermediate/step-down units, or tele units are a good way to get experience.  Then you apply for a ICU RN Internship, when one is posted.  Here in the Northwest USA, you are then in a training program for 3-4 month, where you work one on one with an experienced ICU RN, and also take didactic classes (lots of study required), before you are allowed to work independently in the ICU. 

Good luck to you.  ICU Nursing holds my heart.

Heather Hurst, MSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN, CNRN

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