Progressive Care Nursing


Progressive care nurses (PCNs) are professionals that work with acutely ill patients. Registered nurses (RNs) can get certification in progressive care nursing. If you think you are up to the task, find out how this line of work may be right for you.

Education Requirements for Progressive Care Nursing

In the past few years the need for critical care beds in hospitals has increased while the supply has steadily decreased. As a result, patients are quite often moved out of intensive care units when they still need an extensive level of nursing care and quite frequent observation. In some cases, patients who used to be admitted to intensive care units are commonly being accommodated by progressive care units where they are cared for by progressive care nursing professionals.

To enter this profession, you must first earn a minimum of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Most of these nursing schools require good grades from high school, recommendations and references, and an admissions application. You could go on and achieve your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Either nursing program will allow you to sit for the NCLEX-RN test. If you pass, you can use the prestigious title of “RN”.

Progressive Care Nurse Certification

If you work in a progressive care nursing setting, obtaining your certification will definitely assure that you have the most current knowledge required for the care of acutely ill adult patients. Progressive care nursing certification also reinforces the specialized knowledge and experience that you already have. Research shows that there is definite correlation between the highest levels of practical knowledge, experience and skills in registered nurses, and the acquisition of this certification.

In order to qualify for progressive care nursing certification, you must be in possession of a valid RN license. You must have completed the required 1,750 hours of practical experience, where you have given bedside care to adult acutely ill patients in progressive care settings. This clinical experience must be completed in the previous two year period, with 875 hours accumulated in the last twelve months prior to filing an application for certification.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certification to RNs. The progressive care nursing certification examination is 2 ½ hours in length and contains 125 questions. Eighty percent of the questions focus on your clinical judgment while the remaining twenty percent test you on professional caring and ethical practice. Then you will earn the title of “RN-BC”, which stands for “Registered Nurse-Board Certified.”

Progressive Care Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries

Incomes for PCNs vary depending on your level of expertise, skill level, and the facility where you are employed. According to most web sources, these professionals earn anywhere from $22.50 to $42.30 per hour. So, you see, most RNs in this line of work earn a good wage.

Acute care hospitals in the U.S. are in dire need of progressive care nurses. As a result, there are many job opportunities available, and experienced nurses can demand excellent salaries based on their specialized nursing skills. Nurses in this specialty are professionals that work with acutely ill patients. They find work in intermediate care units, observation units, step-down units, coronary care units, transitional care units, emergency departments and critical care units of hospitals.

Job Duties of the Progressive Care Nurse

Promoting continuing excellence in progressive care nursing, certification credentials will prove to supervisors that you can do this job. In 2008, a national analysis of progressive care nursing was conducted. This analysis proved the validity of the environment of progressive care, the patients served, the basic knowledge and skills required by progressive care nurses, as well as the core competencies involved. Other job duties include giving medications, administering feedings, assisting with procedures, conducting necessary testing, and patient education.


A nursing career as a progressive care nurse gives you a fast paced job, caring for critically ill patients as they transition from the intensive care unit (ICU) to the progressive care unit (PCU). More and more hospitals rely on PCNs to provide critical care for ill patients as they progress and do better. Now that you know what is needed for this career, start today working toward the goal of being a respected caregiver.


ANCC (2013):

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