Summary: An ICU nurse is a registered nurse (RN) working in the intensive care unit or critical care unit of a hospital and is part of the medical team who attend to patients with critical conditions. Registered nurses working in the ICU ward assist physicians, attend to patients, and provide support to the patient’s family. They also monitor life support equipment, administer IVs, give medication, and observe the patient’s vital signs and reactions to medical procedures.
Duties: An ICU nurse is responsible for closely observing patients, noting specific procedures and prescribed medication for each case; assisting doctors in providing physical assessments and administering treatments; monitoring vital signs and ensuring the proper functions of feeding tubes, ventilators, catheters and other life support equipments; attending to the patient’s overall needs, such as feeding, bathing and grooming, dressing replacement, medication intake, and comfort. An ICU nurse work efficiently with other practical nurses and nursing assistants in the ICU ward and be able to provide clear directions and guidance for procedures and routines. He should also be able to provide support and education to the patient’s family, answering questions and giving vital instructions on how to care for the patient.
Education and Training Requirements: An ICU nurse must be a registered nurse. Educational requirements may depend on the healthcare facility, its size, and location. Entry-level requirements for intensive care unit nursing include nursing experience and/or graduate internship. Certification as a critical care nurse is required by some institutions, and can be obtained by passing a national licensing exam.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: To become successful in ICU nursing, a registered nurse must be able to handle critical and highly stressful situations with efficiency and composure. They must be able to react decisively and intelligently in emergencies, perform and assist in medical procedures with accuracy, expertly operate life support machines and other medical equipments, and carefully look after patients with severe medical conditions.
Working Conditions: ICU nurses mostly work in sanitized and well-lit medical centers with strict adherence to health and safety standards. They usually move about in the intensive care unit, operating room, emergency department, or other specialty ward. Intensive care unit nurses, like general nursing staff, follow a shifting schedule with morning, afternoon, and night timetables or other shifting schedule depending on the region.
Salary: The average intensive care unit nurse salary can vary widely due to company, industry, location, benefits and experience. The median salary for an intensive care unit nurse job is $62,000 a year.