3 July 2020

Thousands of nurses around the country were redeployed to critical care departments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Some are now considering a permanent move to critical care nursing. We spoke to Siobhan Moore, Education Sister at Royal Papworth Hospital, about what’s involved in making the move…


To begin with, you don’t need specialist training to move from ward nursing to critical care. You just need to be a registered nurse (including a newly qualified nurse) or a nursing associate to apply for a role as a nurse in our critical care department. 

During your first year, you’ll take part in an orientation programme to help you develop national competencies in critical care nursing. The training programme will include mentoring and study days to help you learn skills such as mechanical ventilation, haemofiltration, caring for patients with tracheostomies or, because we’re a specialist cardiothoracic hospital, specialist competencies such as intra-aortic balloon pump therapy. 

In your second year, you’ll gain advanced competencies in specialist cardiothoracic nursing. These could include ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) and a practice assessor course. 

Once you’ve completed two years in our critical care department, we’d recommend you apply to do a Masters-level course in cardiothoracic critical care nursing. We work with a range of regional providers to offer this. 

If you already have experience working in another critical care department, we’ll recognise any competencies you have already gained. If you have worked at a more senior level in another critical care department you may be able to apply for a role at the same level in our critical care team. However, if you have more senior level experience as a ward nurse, you would need to gain specific critical care competencies before working at Band 6 or above in our critical care team. 

We offer a structured approach and are passionate about continuous professional development. All of our critical care nurses have the opportunity to carry out a six-month rotation in the critical care department at Cambridge University Hospitals (also based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus). We also encourage our nurses to take part in study days and hold a regular journal club to discuss the latest research. 

On Tuesday 21 July, Siobhan is hosting a free webinar 'From ward nursing to critical care: what you need to know' at 14:00. Register here to attend.