Tuesday, September 19, 2023

What Is A Progressive Care Unit Nurse

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What Is A Pcu

Med-Surg Nursing vs Progressive Care Nursing (ICU Step-Down Unit)

A progressive care unit or PCU is a care unit for patients who require a high intensity of care or surveillance but do not require intensive care. It provides an intermediate level of patient care between intensive care units and surgical units.

PCUs are becoming increasingly common in hospitals nationwide, as they provide cost-effective, high-quality, and safe care.

The types of patients who need a PCU are very diverse, but what they all have in common is that they need a very high intensity of nursing care and a high level of surveillance.

The most common diagnoses in PCU patients are stent placement, cardiac catheterization, infarction, exacerbation of congestive heart failure, or pacemaker placement. These patients usually have angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, or congestive heart failure. Many times, these patients have been transferred from an ICU after surgery.

A great advantage of a PCU is that it can also offer education on disease management and advice on medication, activity, and rehabilitation, thus improving the quality of life of PCU patients.

What Is It Like To Work As A Pcu Or Tele Travel Nurse

My travel experience has always been a good one. The first week it feels like a gauntlet. Youre expected to know everything but have no idea how the floor or system works. From my contracts, the staff is conscious and considerate of this, which helps you acclimate to your new work environment. Patient care is the same everywhere, and management is concerned about the same things infection, safety, meeting outcomes, etc. Usually, the only thing you really need to learn is the floor specific procedures. For example, before my Charleston contract, I had never taken care of an ACDF surgery patient, but now I have, and I know what to expect of those patients post-op. However, I do still refer to it as the alphabet surgery jokingly.

Be ready to float. As a traveler, youre usually floated first, but being flexible is part of, or in my opinion, should be a part of being a travel nurse. Most often, Ill float to Tele, but on occasion, Ill get floated to ICU to take PCU transfers waiting on beds to free up an ICU nurse which is my favorite place to float. Ethan

Qualities Of A Successful Pcu Nurse

If youre a nurse, you know it takes a special set of skills and qualities to be effective at your job. PCU nurses are no different. Youll enjoy your job duties more if you possess the following characteristics:

Attention to detail

Patients in need of intermediate care have specific healthcare plans you must follow. Noting any new symptoms or reactions to treatment requires a keen eye.

Commitment to patient advocacy

Your patients sometimes cant speak for themselves. Theyll need you to make sure they receive the level of care required for their complete recovery. You must commit to serving as their caregiver and advocate when necessary to ensure their needs are met.


All nurses should have this quality, but it is especially important for you if you plan to work in the PCU. Patients in this unit may have chronic conditions that cause them emotional and physical pain. Connecting with them can help them heal faster.

Organization skills

Patients that need an intermediate level of care have a lot of medical information and instructions. Youll need to review and organize these to ensure they get everything needed for their recovery. PCUs can move at a hectic pace, so being organized helps you stay on top of patient care.

Sense of humor

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Who Works On Pcu Units

You will most often find PCU nurses working in these units. Although it seems like a straight path, due to PCUs being grouped into four different types, medical, surgical, neonatal/pediatric, and medical-surgical, there is still freedom for a PCU nurse to specialize in a specific area of progressive care. These nurses treat patients that suffer from chronic health conditions or are recovering from surgery, performing lots of tasks to ensure quality patient care. Although it may seem more stressful than the average job on the medical floor, the average salary for PCU registered nurses is $95,772. In addition to PCU nurses, you will see these nurses working alongside nursing assistants, physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, and more healthcare clinicians.

Progressive Care Unit Nurse Experience Requirements

Progressive Care Unit Registered Nurse Resume Example Greenville Health ...

Most progressive care unit nurses come to the position with a few years of experience in nursing. To earn a PCCN certificate, nurse candidates must have 1,750 hours of documented experience working with acutely ill patients in a clinical setting. Many, if not most, progressive care unit nurses have bachelors degrees in nursing , and some in leading positions have earned masters degrees .

Patients in progressive care are often critically ill or recovering from serious medical procedures. For this reason, progressive care unit nurses are usually experienced in other departments or have several years experience in nursing outside of a hospital setting, such as a nursing home.

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What Is Telemetry Care

In the telemetry units, these environments tend to be fast-paced and patients are often monitored using a variety of telemedicine technologies. A telemetry nurses responsibilities are similar to a PCU nurse. However, since their work leans more towards the technological side, their duties frequently involve:2

  • Using medical equipment such as EKGs and portable telemetry monitors to monitor the cardiac rate and rhythms of their patients
  • Conducting physical assessments and diagnostic tests to monitor cardiac health
  • Keeping records of their patients vital signs, and overall health status, and notifying physicians of any changes
  • Administering medical treatments such as cardiac medications and monitoring for effectiveness and side effects.

Telemetry units often have remote telemetry technicians who assist in monitoring the rates and rhythms of the patients. Tele techs work closely with the RNs and physicians, and are often given parameters of when to notify the nurses of changes in rate and/or rhythm. For example an RN can give parameters for a tele tech to call if the heart rate drops below 45, or if a patient in rate-controlled atrial fibrillation converts to normal sinus rhythm.

Ratios on a telemetry unit can range from 1:3-6 depending on the state youre practicing in, and the condition of your patients.

Now that you know the differences between PCU and telemetry lets learn about why these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Lend A Helping Hand With Host Healthcare

If youre motivated by compassion for others and curiosity for the medical field, then youre on the right path. Whether youre after a career in progressive care, telemetry, or some other specialty, having a clear destination in mind can keep you motivated along the way.

Once youve made your decision, consider taking your patient care, enthusiasm, and expertise on the road with travel nursing. At Host Healthcare, we can help you help others all over the United States. Our Travelers enjoy the flexibility of working at a number of revered facilities across the country, exceptional housing, and day-one medical benefits.

Apply today and let Host Healthcare find the right fit for you.

  • Progressive Care Nurses: Duties, Training and Skills. Indeed Career Guide,
  • The Telemetry Unit: Guide to Working as a Telemetry Nurse. Indeed Career Guide,
  • Telemetry Certification: How to Become a Progressive Care Nurse. National Telemetry Association, 29 Sept. 2019,
  • Walden University. What Is Progressive Care Nursing.? Walden University, Walden University, 25 Mar. 2021,
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    Progressive Care Unit: What Is It What Is A Nurses Role

    • Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a progressive care unit and an intensive care unit ? What is a Step-down?
    • Perhaps, you are looking for a new job to transition into or are simply exploring the many roles within a hospital setting.

    • Whatever the case may be, weve got the scoop on PCUs!

    Morgan Curry, BSN / RN

    Intensive Care, Outpatient Surgery, Aesthetics, Education, and Nursing Leadership

    Technology And Expertise At Lee Health

    Progressive Care Unit Nursing Insights

    The Lee Health staff on CPCU rely on proven protocols when evaluating patients with chest pain or treating patients with congestive heart failure.

    Your health care team is here to serve you from admission through recovery to discharge. Meeting your health care needs is our primary goal.

    Patient education is a priority for the PCU staff. During your stay you will be given educational material about your specific diagnosis. Through discharge instruction, you and your family are informed about the necessary steps to help you with your care once you leave the hospital.

    Do you or someone you know need to schedule a Cardiology Appointment? Find all the resources you need here for all current and new patients.

    • Request an appointment with a Lee Health doctor.

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    Description Of A Registered Nurse Med/surg

    The job of registered medical-surgical nurses is to care for patients with either surgical or non-surgical conditions. They are responsible for aiding patients to cope with their illness, prevent diseases, and promote good health. Entry-level registered nurses often rely on standardized care plans and medical procedures and make scientific-based nursing judgments. On the other hand, intermediate level nurses are more skilled in developing care plans that meet client needs. Requirements to become a medical-surgical nurse include a college degree in nursing, excellent assessment and observation skills, and patient education skills.

    Registered nurse med/surgs tend to earn a higher pay than progressive care nurses by about $13,044 per year.

    According to resumes from both progressive care nurses and registered nurse med/surgs, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include “rn,” “acute care,” and “bls. “

    Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, a progressive care nurse might have more use for skills like “cpr,” “clinical staff,” “pressure ulcers,” and “skin care.” Meanwhile, some registered nurse med/surgs might include skills like “oncology,” “surgical procedures,” “hospital policies,” and “medical conditions” on their resume.

    A Day In The Life Of A Pcu Nurse

    A day in the life of a PCU nurse can be hectic and stressful. Your patients require close monitoring and frequent assessment to ensure they are on the path to recovery. They may not be sick enough for the ICU, but their conditions can turn on a dime. Youll need to pay close attention to ensure their care needs are met.

    If you choose to work as a travel PCU nurse, youll have the added benefit of exploring new hospitals and working with different patients and healthcare teams.


    “Not sure if a PCU is the right role for you? Join Incredible Health’s Nurse Community for input from RNs of all specialties.”

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    What Does A Progressive Care Unit Nurse Do

    Progressive care unit nurses are a key part of the care team in hospitals progressive care or step-down care units. After patients finish their treatment in various specialty units elsewhere, such as the cardiac unit, theyre often transferred into progressive care for recovery and health monitoring.

    The role of a progressive care nurse is to monitor and report on patients conditions and progress, respond to emergencies and assist hospital physicians in treating people who may soon be released from hospital inpatient care. A progressive care units nurses have duties that change from day to day, and even by the minute.

    Much of the work they do centers on assessing and tracking changes in patients conditions and reporting this information to the doctor heading the treatment team. They also frequently change dressings, provide wound care and perform minor bedside procedures, such as IV or catheterization.

    Patient Acuity Goes Hand In Hand With Nurse Intensity

    Registered Nurse, Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Resume Example USA ...

    What you need to do will be somewhat time intensive at first. It is an absolute must to arrive at the right staffing levels to document the nursing intensity required to take care of an intermediate patient.

    As noted in the two different sized hospitals, this will be different in each organization. Nurse staffing needs to be determined locally within each hospital and unit based on a variety of factors.

    A staffing committee for each unit should be comprised largely of bedside nurses with unit managers. Unit level outcomes should be monitored monthly in relationship to staffing levels and should be adjusted as needed to patient outcome targets are being met.

    It is important as nurses each of you understand the payment system in which you work.

    Ultimately, this drives all decisions, patient care and staffing levels. It is imperative to know the difference in levels of care, and to help ensure patients obtain the outcomes they deserve with the appropriate RN staffing regardless of level of care.

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    Where Pcu And Telemetry Nurses Work

    Hospitals are the most common places of employment for both telemetry nurses and PCU nurses.

    However, if youre someone whos interested in working outside of a typical hospital setting, then you may want to pursue the path of a telemetry nurse. Telemetry nurses may also work in nursing homes, outpatient cardiology clinics, or they may even choose to offer in-home patient care.

    Depending on the hospital, progressive care nurses may have required on-call shifts. In addition to hospitals, they can also work in specialized outpatient treatment and recovery facilities as well.

    Work environment can often impact how well you doand how fulfilled you feelin a role. So, make sure to choose the one you know youll thrive in. If youd prefer to work in a variety of settings, consider applying for travel nursing jobs. This way, youll be able to put your skills to the test in several different types of medical facilities across the country.

    Per Diem Pcu Healthcare Workers

    Depending on the need of each RN or CNA, it is possible to take shifts as a PRN in the different hospitals where PCU staffing is required.

    Healthcare workers can work PRN/per diem shifts, which means that they take non-regular shifts, and although they perform the same duties as someone who works regularly in the hospital, their shifts exist when they are needed for some reason in the institution.

    There are many advantages to working as a PRN/per diem, including earning more and choosing the hours the healthcare worker wants to work.

    Its easy to supplement the work a nurse does with some extra hours and to find new shifts the Nursa app comes: this app allows healthcare workers to find jobs in the area they want to work in, with the possibility to choose the shifts they want. Its as simple as creating an account, uploading the necessary certification to be approved, and start looking for shifts.

    There are many hospitals that are actively seeking support with their PCUs, and the importance of having these progressive care units lies in the nurses and nurse aides doing their job well.

    Read Also: Spalding University Nurse Practitioner Program

    What Is A Progressive Care Unit

    First, let me preface by saying that every hospital is different. There are multiple levels of care within the system such as critical, intermediate, acute, and many more however, depending on the size of your hospital, the levels of care may vary.

    Walden University defines progressive care as being care provided to hospital patients who need more monitoring and assessment than patients on the surgical/medical floor but whose conditions arent so unstable that they need to be in the ICU.

    Following, a progressive care unit is also known as a step-down unit from the ICU.

    So,youmight be wondering, Whats the difference between a progressive care unit and a telemetry unit? Lets keep going!

    Although some may consider this a complete level of care, in most instances, those who work in telemetry units monitor patients through medical devices such as a cardiac monitor. If a provider has ordered telemetry monitoring for a patient, it does not classify the patient into a higher or lower level of care.

    In some cases, a progressive care unit may be classified into specialized units such as, a cardiac progressive care unit ora medical progressive care unit.

    Patients admitted to a PCU typically have a diagnosis such as a post-stent placement, post-cardiac cath, heart attack, congestive heart failure exacerbations, or pacemaker placement.

    What Does A Progressive Care Nurse Do

    Good Samaritan Hospital Progressive Care Unit

    There are certain skills that many progressive care nurses have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, compassion and detail oriented.

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    Advantages Of Being A Progressive Care Unit Travel Nurse

    Nurses interested in a high-impact position that allows them to experience new places should consider progressive care unit nursing travel positions.

    What is progressive care unit nursing? In short, PCU nursing jobs require providing much-needed medical attention to patients who require frequent monitoring and assessment but lack the instability for ICU care.

    Check out these five reasons progressive care unit nursing might be what you’re looking for.

    Aacn Core Curriculum For Pediatric High Acuity Progressive And Critical Care Nursing

    Third Edition

    Ideal for pediatric critical care and acute care nurses, high acuity/critical care courses, and continuing education, AACN Core Curriculum for Pediatric High Acuity, Progressive, and Critical Care, Third Edition, contains core AACN guidelines for the highest quality nursing practice. The text covers anatomic, physiologic, cognitive, and psychosocial changes that occur throughout the pediatric lifespan.

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    Moving Into Progressive Care Nursing Can Be Good For Your Nursing Career

    As opportunities in the nursing field continue to grow,1 hospital settings can offer a wide range of nursing career paths, including outpatient care, emergency room nursing, and surgical nursing. One area that nurses looking to advance their career may want to explore is progressive care.

    What Is Progressive Care?

    Progressive care refers to care provided to hospital patients who need more monitoring and assessment than patients on the surgical/medical floor but whose conditions arent so unstable that they need to be in the ICU. In other words, it is an intermediary level of hospital care.

    Progressive care units are sometimes referred to as step-down units, intermediate care units, transitional care units, or telemetry units. In general, they help reduce the number of ICU beds and the costs associated with the ICU without compromising patient care.

    What Does a Progressive Care Nurse Do?

    Progressive care nurses are skilled at monitoring and assessing acutely ill patients. These patients are often on multiple medications and are at an increased risk for complications. Its the job of progressive care nurses to monitor critical vital signs, detect any changes, and initiate life-saving interventions if needed.

    Many progressive care nurses work on site. However, a growing number are assuming roles as telemetry nurses, meaning they monitor and assess patients off site, using technology.

    What Is the Job Outlook for Progressive Care Nursing?

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