ICU nurses work in the intensive care unit, where patients are in critical and/or rapidly worsening condition. Because of this, an ICU nurse must be even more careful and conscientious in his or her work. The patients that an ICU nurse takes care of are much more fragile than those that another type of nurse may care for. ICU nurses generally work in shifts, which are often quite long and may occur at any time of day. Any nurse needs to be alert during his or her shift, but this is especially true for an ICU nurse, since his or her patients need more immediate attention and even seconds can make a difference in patient condition.
To be an ICU nurse, one must complete a general nursing program at a university. More experienced nurses typically are a better fit for the ICU than a new nurse, as it is a more stressful position.
Nurses report to doctors and generally have more direct contact with patients than the doctors will. A nurse often is the first person to attend to a patient in the ICU. Throughout the day, if there is no emergency, a nurse must still take vital signs and administer medicine to the patients, among other responsibilities. An ICU nurse must have a great deal of compassion, but also the ability to distance oneself as ICU patients' health status may be volatile and decline quickly.
Nurse, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Tasks
- Develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records.
- Administers nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients in the Intensive Care Unit.
- Assess patient health problems and needs.