Burn ICU nurses are registered nurses who specialize in providing emergency burn care to patients who’ve sustained traumatic burn injuries caused by fire, hot liquids, chemicals, or electricity. BICU nurses can expect to treat a wide range of patients across all ages suffering from various types of burns and possibly other severe injuries that occurred simultaneously.
BICU nursing is considered one of the most challenging specialties in nursing but RNs wanting to make a distinct difference during some of the most traumatic moments in their patients’ lives are drawn to the field. Burn ICU nurses play a critical role in the urgent moments of initial intake through stabilization of acutely burned patients. Due to the large number of severe burn injuries each year, nurses in this specialty continually remain in high demand.
BICU nursing is a top recruited specialty on Vivian where you’ll find burn ICU travel nursing jobs at reputable medical facilities nationwide.
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Burn Care Nurse FAQs
What does a burn ICU nurse do?
Severe burns usually require initial care in a specialized ICU of a burn center, but emergency care may be initially provided in an emergency department or any ICU, depending on a medical facility’s protocol and the patient’s condition. When initial stabilization begins in the emergency department, it continues in the BICU where BICU nurses care for patients who may need mechanical ventilation, aggressive fluid resuscitation, cardiac or other hemodynamic monitoring, or meticulous observation for multisystem organ failure. Patients spend an average of one-half to one full day per percent of total body surface area burned in the BICU. During this time, the duties of a BICU nurse may include:
Following Advanced Trauma Life Support guidelines for assessment and stabilization
Helping stabilize severely burned patients
Assessing burn size, depth, and severity
Assessing pain levels and assisting with burn pain management
Administering medications intravenously, orally, topically, or by injection
Cleaning wounds and preparing patients for burn wound excisions
Dressing superficial wounds with materials that aid with skin healing and re-epithelialization
Applying provisional dressing to deep burn wounds that require grafting
Watching for wound infections and burn-related complications
Calculating fluid resuscitation needs and monitoring urine output
Setting up and monitoring continuous renal replacement therapy
Managing inhalation injuries and treating other severe injuries sustained during the burn trauma
Documenting criteria for patient discharge from BICU to a burn unit or rehabilitation facility
Where do burn ICU nurses work?
Burn ICU nurses are often employed in stand-alone burn care centers or the burn care units within a hospital or medical center. They may also work in a medical facility’s intensive care unit, emergency department, or trauma center. The military may employ burn ICU nurses at military hospital burn centers in the United States or other countries, or as part of a Burn Flight Team (https://usaisr.amedd.army.mil/burncenter_smartteam.html), transferring military personnel who sustained severe burn trauma overseas to the USAISR Burn Center in San Antonio, Texas.
What skills make a good burn ICU nurse?
Good BICU nurses have sharp clinical skills that include triage, critical care, fluid balance, wound and pain management, and stabilization for acutely burned patients. Patients with severe burn injuries often present with other types of severe trauma, so successful BICU nurses also have comprehensive skills in numerous nursing specialties. They’re extremely knowledgeable in the use of numerous types of equipment and techniques to monitor, treat, and ventilate burn patients and are well-acquainted with Advanced Trauma Life Support guidelines for assessment and stabilization. Successful BICU nurses have an extremely high level of compassion and empathy to effectively handle the emotional and psychological effects traumatic burns have on patients and their families.
How to become a Burn ICU Travel Nurse
Becoming a burn ICU travel nurse requires an RN license. Obtaining RN licensure requires an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Since BICU nursing is specialized, most employers prefer applicants with a BSN and additional training and certifications.
RNs must obtain Basic Life Support certification, but many BICU facilities also require Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification. Because burn patients may be children, some facilities also require Pediatric Advanced Life Support certification. Although not required, employers look favorably on RNs who have completed the American Burn Association’s Advanced Burn Life Support program, which focuses on triage, burn survivability, and immediate care for burn patients during the first 24 hours post-injury. Most employers prefer applicants with some hands-on experience in critical care within the ICU or trauma unit. Travel employers sometimes specifically require applicants with two-plus years of experience in the burn care field.