Nursing at Penn Medicine

Gateway to Critical Care Program at Penn Medicine

The Gateway to Critical Care Program is an opportunity for our new-to-practice nurse hires to develop the skills necessary to deliver safe and competent critical care. This course is required for all UPHS new-to-practice nurse hires who have been hired to a critical care unit without a background in critical care experience.

Participants in the program follow a structured educational plan that outlines and defines competency expectation, patient assignment and preceptor/learner responsibilities in the critical care environment.

The 16- to 20-week program consists of classroom instruction, clinician-supervised skill workshops in state-of-the-art clinical labs, and 11 to 14 weeks of structured clinical experiences at staged levels. Nurses gain the basic knowledge and skills necessary to care for critically ill patients through lecture, discussion, self-learning modules, simulation and clinical experience. This series of seminars, coupled with the Nurse Residency program, will provide the nurse with the essential skills for navigating a beginning nursing role in the critical care environment during the first 12 months.

Core Competencies

The major core competencies are:

  • Airway and ventilator management
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Critical care pharmacology
  • Hemodynamic monitoring
  • Arterial blood gases analysis, acid-based balance
  • Pain, sedation, neuromuscular blockade
  • End-of-life care
  • Patient and family education

The Department of Nursing Development and Education partners with nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists, educators and preceptors to support and assist nurses through the completion of the program.

Eligibility Criteria

The Gateway to Critical Care program at Penn Medicine is offered three times annually. Postings for nursing positions are available under job opportunities. Nurses who meet the following criteria are eligible for the Gateway to Critical Care Program at Penn Medicine and will be enrolled through nursing recruitment:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited institution
  • Valid Pennsylvania RN licensure prior to hire date
  • A passion to be a nurse in a critical care environment

Program Locations

The Gateway to the Critical Care Program is available at: