For Nurses and Advanced Practice

The Gateway to Critical Care Program is an opportunity for new graduates and experienced nurses without ICU experience to develop the skills necessary to deliver safe and competent critical care for acutely ill patients in a highly complex environment. This course is required for nurses hired to a critical care unit without a background in critical care.

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. Through intensive didactic course work, precepted clinical shifts, simulation opportunities and mentoring the nurse will develop the fundamental skills and knowledge to begin and grow their critical care nursing career.

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 program, will provide the nurse with the essential skills for navigating a beginning nursing role in the critical care environment.

Core Competencies

The major core competencies are:

  • Hemodynamic monitoring
  • Critical care pharmacology
  • Ethical and legal considerations
  • Cardiovascular, respiratory, neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, renal, and endocrine systems
  • Multisystem problems
  • Airway and ventilator management
  • Communication
  • Patient and family education

The Penn Medicine Department of Nursing Professional Development 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 six 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:

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