Progressive care units (PCUs) optimally provide care for patients with lower to middle levels of resiliency, vulnerability, stability, complexity, resource availability, care participation, decision making ability, and predictability.11 PCU names vary according to the patient acuities they encompass. Typically, a PCU name describes its predominant patient population, such as cardiopulmonary care unit or neurological step-down unit.

In larger facilities, these units can be structured to care for specific patient populations, or the unit is more generic and encompasses many diagnoses and patient populations. Often, caregivers must prepare for overflow from one PCU to another. As the patient population diversifies, nurse managers must clearly define appropriate care protocols for each PCU.

In addition to freeing up precious ICU beds, PCUs have many positive implications.22 Nurses in PCUs report increased job satisfaction because they’re developing new skills....

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