PICU RN Travel Nursing Guide
Caring for the most severely ill patients in a hospital is an important and challenging role. This work becomes even more complex for pediatric intensive care unit nurses, who treat critically ill & injured children. Demand is constantly high for PICU nurses which means pay is also often high!
PICU Travel Nursing Careers
A career as a travel pediatric intensive care unit nurse is a wonderful way to avoid nurse burnout while sharing your skill and talent with facilities most in need of help. Of course, your work in the PICU remains highly demanding, but the variety of locations and facilities can help keep you fresh and motivated. Travel nursing is also a great way to sharpen your skills, gain crucial experience, and improve your resume.
Pediatric care units offer patient care for a hospital’s most severely ill or injured child and adolescent patient population. To succeed working in the PICU you must be incredibly compassionate, able to function independently, and able to monitor and assess patients at a high level.
It’s also crucial for PICU nurses to work well with children and be excellent at age-appropriate communication with each of their patients, as well as skilled communication with various family members in high-stress situations. Overall, pediatric intensive care involves lots of one-to-one care, focus, and grace under pressure.
What Are The Duties of a PICU Nurse?
PICU nurses typically have fewer patients at a time than nurses in other units because of the need to constantly monitor and assess their critically ill patients. They work with the pediatric intensive care team to ensure that patients receive all medication, fluids, and treatments as directed, and also to constantly monitor their patients’ vitals — such as blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate — so any changes in condition can be detected quickly.
Due to the nature of working with children, who may not yet be able to speak in some cases, monitoring and care can be complicated further. PICU RNs also play an important role in offering physical and emotional comfort to patients and making sure all their routine needs are met.
The PICU team’s ultimate goal is to stabilize their child and adolescent patients so each one can be transferred on to another non-critical hospital unit for continued care and, if possible, eventually be discharged altogether.
Who Works in the PICU?
While PICU RNs have low nurse-to-patient ratios, a wide range of healthcare professionals work together in the pediatric intensive care unit in order to serve the very special little patients in this unit. Pediatric intensive care unit team members can include PICU RNs, pediatric physicians/intensivists, surgeons, respiratory therapists, dieticians, nursing assistants, specialists, clinical pharmacists, clinical psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, administrative staff, and social workers/case managers.
Who’s Treated in the PICU?
Patients can be in the pediatric intensive care unit for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that they’re children who are critically ill, medically unstable, and require continuous medical care. PICU patients commonly may be recovering from a complicated surgery or life-threatening trauma, for example, brain surgery or open-heart surgery, head trauma/severe brain injury, car accident, or shooting. A patient may also be in a coma or require a very specific type of monitoring. Many PICU patients need breathing support.
Quick PICU Facts
- Commonly required PICU RN education: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and/or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), plus passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
- Commonly required PICU certifications: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Commonly preferred PICU certifications: Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN), Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC), Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC)
- Commonly required experience to become a travel PICU RN: Facilities typically require a minimum of two years of recent, in-hospital experience in order to hire you as an PICU travel nurse. To protect your license and preserve patient care, you’ll want the benefit of experience since pediatric intensive care unit travel nurses have to hit the ground running!
- Average annual PICU RN salary range: $75,000-$115,000
Locations where PICU RNs are in high demand: Demand for PICU RNs is growing nationwide! Locations like Tennessee, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, New York, North Dakota, Nevada, Connecticut, and Rhode Island reflect high demand with higher average salaries for pediatric intensive care unit registered nurses.