A Typical Day in the life of Critical Care Nurses

Florence Nightingale, popularly known as the “Lady with the lamp” is largely credited for being the first to propose that special care and treatment should be given to the critically ill during the Crimean War in the 1850s. However, it was not until some 100 years later that the first intensive care units appeared in order to provide special care to extremely ill patients who required one-to-one attention from a specific nurse. Today, there are over 200 nursing sub-specialties with each having core responsibilities in patient care.

What is Critical Care Nursing?

Critical care or intensive care nursing is the specialty in the field of nursing that deals precisely with patients suffering from life-threatening conditions. Focusing on taking care of critically ill patients, critical care or ICU nurses work in a wide array of environments such as intensive care units, general intensive care units, trauma intensive care units, surgical intensive care units, coronary care units among others. In addition to these, ICU nurses work in home healthcare, managed care organizations, outpatient surgery centers, nursing schools and clinics. Though there are Physicians and ICU Directors to cater to the chief requisites and treatment of patients who suffer from critical health conditions, but critical care nurses are needed to attend to patients as their treatment has to be highly specialized.

The entire concept of critical care is quite contemporary. As medicine and technology have advanced, patient care has become all the more complex. For proper diagnosis, treatment and care, modern day nurses need specialized knowledge, skills and mechanisms to cater to the patients’ needs for continuous monitoring and cure. Emergency or intensive care is administered to patients when they suffer from severe trauma, respiratory problems, stroke, shock or heart attack. It is necessary to remember in this respect that all Emergency NPs are trained in critical care as well, since it these patients are in life threatening condition and require special and attentive care.

What do Critical Care Nurses do in a typical day?

Proficient in providing immediate care in such situations, on a regular basis, a critical care nurse assesses the critical conditions, treats wounds, takes blood samples, ask for diagnostic tests, lends assistance to physicians, keeps a track of vital signs of patients, gives intensive therapy, monitors the condition of the patients, maintains a wide range of life support systems and acts as the advocate of patients.

To ensure optimum patient care, ICU nurses often collaborate with team of doctors, physiotherapists, consultants and several other specialists.

Considered to be mentally as well as physically demanding, with long working hours, exhaustive patient handling and high-pressure conditions, ICU nurses should excel at critical thinking, decision making, strategic planning, leadership and interpersonal communication.

Critical care or ICU nurses are in great demand across the globe. As compared to the olden days, it is now possible to restore the health of more patients and save more lives as a result of swift advancements in technology and healthcare. At times, they need to fill in acute staffing shortages as well. With each passing day, patient care is becoming increasingly complex and with the advent of new technologies and treatments, critical care nurses shall need to become more knowledgeable and hone their skills.

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