Part-time/Distance & Online Learning Advanced Certificate 680dascert


Note: The Critical Care Nursing program is undergoing a curriculum revision. Please continue to monitor this web page for updates.

The BCIT Critical Care Nursing Advanced Specialty has a reputation for delivering educational excellence. Our faculty is known for their commitment to students’ learning progress. We give you individual support and a high quality of learning to help you succeed.

We prepare you to care for patients who are seriously ill or injured and in failing health, and part of this care is supporting patients’ families who are going through a difficult time. It’s a demanding job. Our grads have the passion and commitment to take it on.

About the program

  • Part-time, advanced certificate program that takes an average of 2.5 years to complete
  • Distance and online learning gives you flexibility to learn at your own pace
  • Three, full-time clinical experiences in an ICU/CCU unit in a BC hospital

Who it’s for

This program is for individuals who:

  • Are existing registered nurses (RNs) who want critical care certification or to complete their specialty Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in critical care
  • Are undergraduate nursing students currently completing an accredited BSN program 
  • Have six months or more relevant work experience in an acute care setting
  • Are able to make effective decisions while managing patient situations that change quickly
  • Are able to communicate well with their team, patients, and patients’ families

Does this sound like you? See Program Entry to discover more about entry requirements and how to apply.

Your work experience matters

At BCIT, we value your work experience. If you’ve been working as a critical care nurse, take advantage of our Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR) process and fast track your advanced certification education.

Interested in enhancing your skills in critical care and emergency nursing? See BCIT’s Combined Critical Care and Emergency and Combined Emergency and Critical Care program options.

What grads can do

We prepare you to work in intensive care, cardiac care, and cardiac surgical units. See Graduating and Jobs to learn more about career opportunities.

Program Entry

Entrance requirements

Note: Effective immediately, all health care workers who come into contact with patients at publicly-funded health care facilities or in the community, including at long-term-care facilities, will have to get the influenza vaccine or wear a mask during flu season. This policy affects all students who will be entering a clinical setting.

As such, you will be required to provide proof of your immunization or agree to wear a mask at all times prior to being placed in your clinical studies.

The following are requirements for program entry into Specialty nursing certificate and degree courses. Enforcement or waiving of any or all entry requirements is at the discretion of the Program Head.

If you have any questions about your experience or qualifications, please contact the Program Head to arrange program advising.

English Language Proficiency

Specialty Nursing courses are taught in the English language and require adequate English skills. To review BCIT’s requirements on English Language proficiency, please visit BCIT’s Admission and Registration page on English Requirements.

Work Experience

RNs or undergraduate students currently registered in an accredited RN or BSN program may start their Specialty Nursing Certificate by taking entry level theory courses. Applicants to the more advanced Specialty Nursing Certificate courses may require a minimum of 6 months to 1 year of relevant work experience in an acute care setting and a resume of work experience may be required to progress in the program. If you have questions about whether your work experience qualifies, please contact the Program Head.

If you are a long term or residential care nurse or an RN lacking current (within the last 2 years) acute care experience, Kwantlen College offers a Competency Assessment and Enhancement for Nurses course that provides a refresher in acute care principles.

This assessment involves an individual self assessment, multiple choice exam and practice simulation. This course may be required for admission in the Specialty Nursing programs. For more information on Kwantlen's offering please visit:

Once you have been assessed, you may be required to complete a tailored curriculum designed to meet BCIT's need for familiarity with acute care principles. This curriculum may include some of the following courses:

Requirements for clinical courses in Specialty Nursing:

Basic Cardiac Life Support Certification

All students participating in clinical courses must have current Current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Level C or Level Health Care Provider (HCP). The original certificate must be presented upon application to the clinical courses.

CRNBC Registration

As well as providing this information at the time of admission, BCIT requires students to provide proof of CRNBC membership (or Canadian provinvial equivalent) for each clinical course they enroll in. Without proper provincial registration, you will not be permitted to continue in the course.

Face Respirator Fit Testing

A face piece respiratory fit test is required before students are permitted to enter the clinical practicum. Upon successful completion of the fit test, the original certificate must be presented to the program and annual re-fitting is required. Students are expected to carry their certificate with them at all times during their practicum.

For the Respirator Fit Testing, fit testing with a N95 respirator (1860, 1860s or 1870) is required and must be performed, in accordance with CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z94.4-02. Fit Testing must also include, inspection, cleaning, maintenance and storage of protective equipment. Students will be given specific instructions in preparation for their fit testing by the provider they choose.

Costs & Supplies

Face respirator fit testing - approx $25 per year; annual re-fitting required.

Tuition fees

Please check the current availability of courses in the program matrix for individual course fees. You may find three different fees for the same course: one for Canadian citizens, one for international students, and one for re-registration.

Books and supplies

Textbooks and videos for Critical Care specialty courses cost $700
(general estimated cost and subject to change).


Program matrix

Check current availability of courses for this program.

Required Courses: (27.0 credits) Credits
  NSCC 7150 Dysrhythmia Interpretation and Management 2.0
  NSCC 7200 Critical Care Nursing Theory 1 4.0
  NSCC 7310 Critical Care Nursing Clinical 1 3.0
  NSCC 7410 Critical Care Nursing Theory 2 3.0
  NSCC 7425 Critical Care Nursing Clinical 2 3.0
  NSCC 7450 Critical Care Nursing Theory 3 4.0
  NSCC 7550 Critical Care Clinical 3 5.0
  NSCC 7100 Introduction to Critical Care Nursing* 3.0
  NSCC 7120 Critical Care Nursing Theory 1** 4.0

*Distance Education/Part-time Studies students only

**Compressed time frame students only
Total Credits: 28.0

Check current availability of courses for this program.

Note: Students that are completing the old curriculum can finish their certificate by taking NSCC 7610 in lieu of NSCC7600 or NSCC 7625. This course is offered to grandfather students from old curriculum to new curriculum.

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

BCIT's Critical Care Nursing Specialty program prepares RNs to practice in intensive care units, cardiac care units and cardiac surgical units. The courses and program have been designed and created through collaboration among practising critical care nurses, nursing unit managers, hospital educators, learners in the program and BCIT critical care nursing faculty; and therefore reflect the perspectives of learners, practitioners and educators.

The Critical Care program can lead to two levels of qualification:

  1. Experienced Registered Nurses can earn a certificate in Critical Care Nursing after completing 27 credits.
  2. Diploma RN graduates can earn Bachelor of Science in Specialty Nursing (BSN SN) after completing an additional 33 credits (for a total of 60 credits).

Specific programs of study are in place for nurses who wish to practice in post-anesthetic care units. Nurses interested in both critical care and emergency nursing can focus on the Combined Critical Care/Emergency Nursing Option.

To be successful in the Critical Care Nursing program, you need:

  • Excellent critical thinking skills.
  • The ability to make sound clinical judgments.
  • Excellent organization and communication skills.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • The ability to work collaboratively with patients, family members and a health-care team.
  • Flexibility in managing rapidly changing patient situations.
  • Motivation and energy to learn and expand your practice.

Nurses interested in the Critical Care program should have a minimum of six months (preferably one year) of recent experience on an acute care unit. For interested nurses from international practice, residential or other areas of care, a refresher course in acute care may be required. BCIT recommends the following programs:

Please contact one of the institutions above, as well as the Critical Care program at BCIT, to determine an appropriate preparatory course of study.

For nurses with a shared interest in both Critical Care and Emergency Nursing, BCIT offers combined programs.  

Combined Critical Care/Emergency Option - designed for nurses who work in a community hospital and spend the majority of their time is working in the intensive care unit with some responsibilities in the emergency department.

Combined Emergency/Critical Care Option - designed for nurses who work in a community or rural hospital and spend the majority of their time working in the emergency department with some responsibilities in the intensive care unit.

PLEASE NOTE - NSCC7610 will continue to be offered until further notice. Please contact the Program Assistant or Program Head if you have questions.

The Critical Care Nursing program is composed of five theory and three clinical courses. The curriculum focuses on pathophysiology and comprehensive assessment of patients' needs through analyzing oxygen supply and demand imbalances. Alongside the complex and technological aspects of physiologic care, nurses are challenged to humanize the critical illness experience for patients and families.

Learning within the program explores various aspects of critical care nursing practice including; understanding and supporting patients and families through their experience, evidence informed practice, ethical challenges and collaborative practice.

Clinical courses are typically offered as instructor led experiences in 3-5 week full time blocks. Applicants for clinical are required to provide proof of current nursing registration in a Canadian Province or Territory and current basic cardiac life support (BCLS) within the previous 2 years. In selected situations precepted clinical experience may be arranged.

Graduates of the program are prepared to begin practice in intensive and cardiac care and may have chosen to complete an introduction to cardiac surgical or post anaesthetic care.

Program length

The length of the program varies, as it is offered in a variety of formats:

  • BCIT offers theory and some clinical courses by part-time, independent study. We deliver theory courses over a 12-week term using guided-learning modules and on-line learning with tutor support. If you work full-time, you would generally register for one theory course per term, although this can vary depending on your additional commitments.

  • Through independent study, learn in you own community and structure your learning schedule in a manner that is most convenient for you. Complete full-time clinical courses at clinical sites throughout BC, over 3 to 4 weeks. If you live outside BC, clinical placements may be negotiated.

  • Most Specialty Nursing programs arrange special offerings of courses as "Compressed time frame programs". Offered in full-time study formats, they enable you to take several courses over a specified period of time. If you are interested in this option of study, contact the program assistant for more information and program start dates.

  • Nurses with relevant experience and/or previous courses can request assessment for appropriate placement within the program. Please contact the program for prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) and transfer credit.

Maximum program length for either the Advanced Certificate or the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is seven years.

Additional program options

Applicants who already possess High Acuity Specialty Nursing courses (NSHA 7100, NSCC 7150, NSHA 7201, NSHA 7300 and NSHA 7410) are eligible to complete the Critical Care Nursing Specialty Certificate by completing: NSCC 7410, NSCC 7425, NSCC 7450, NSCC 7550.

As of September 2009 nurses who completed NSHA 7100, NSCC 7150, NSHA 7201 and 7300 enter the critical care nursing program at NSCC 7410.

Continue your education

BCIT School of Health Sciences offers two levels of credential in Specialty Nursing:

  1. Advanced Certificate of 27 credits for Critical Care Nursing
  2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing Specialty Nursing (Critical Care). This is the only degree program in BC that prepares registered nurses for employment in Critical Care units/areas. The degree program is a total of 60 credits comprising:
    • 27 credits granted for the Critical Care Nursing Advanced Certificate
    • 21 specialty and core nursing credits
    • 12 liberal studies credits.

Graduating & Jobs

Our grads are ready

Whether you choose to complete the full advanced certificate or take courses as you and your employer need them, our critical care specialty will equip you to thrive in this important area of patient care.

Career opportunities

Registered nurses with the critical care specialty work in hospitals and have salaries starting at approximately $32 per hour. Grads can choose to complete the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) certification exam.

See what our grads are saying. View the most recent post-grad survey.

Keep learning

Looking to get your BSN? Use your advanced certificate toward completing our Specialty Bachelors of Nursing program.

Join the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses (CACCN). This non-profit organization works to maintain and enhance the quality of care provided to critically ill patients and their families.

Health Match BC

Health Match BC is a new service that helps recent specialty nursing graduates find work within BC. Funded by the provincial government, Health Match BC prioritizes the hiring of BC nursing graduates. For more information, download the Health Match BC PDF.

Graduate employment outcomes

The BCIT student outcomes reports present summary findings from the annual survey of former students administered by BC Stats one to two years after graduation. These reports combine the last three years of available results for the 2011-2013 BCIT Outcomes Surveys of 2010-2012 Graduates and for Degree 2009-2011 Graduates. The reports are organized into two-page summaries containing information on graduates' labour market experiences and opinions regarding their education. More detailed information can be accessed at the BC Student Outcomes website.

To view these results, you may need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your Web browser.

Professional associations

The Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses (CACCN) is the professional organization for Critical Care nurses in BC. CACCN is a non-profit, specialty organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the quality of care provided to critically ill patients and their families.

Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) offers Critical Care Certification.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

Andrea Ford
Program Head

Janet Brisson
Program Assistant

Toll-free: 800-663-6542 x 7103

Contact Us

Janet Brisson
Program Assistant
Toll-free: 800-663-6542 x 7103

Questions or comments?

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The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). BCIT will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant BCIT programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized BCIT staff. Email communication sent to and from BCIT is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about BCIT's collection and use of this information, please contact BCIT’s manager of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy.

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