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The ICU or intensive care unit or critical care unit is a ward of a hospital devoted to the care of people whose

medical conditions require close observation and extra care. ICU registered nurses (RNs) are a part of the medical team who treats patients in the ICU.

1. Function

ICU registered nurses provide patient care as well as education and support to the patient's family. RNs work alongside the patient's physicians and provide direction to licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants who work within the unit.


ICU registered nurses ensure that life support equipment, such as ventilators and feeding tubes, functions properly. They observe the patient's heart rate, blood pressure and respiration for signs of distress. Registered nurses also administer IVs, bring medication and insert catheters as needed.

Communication and Documentation

The documentation recorded by an ICU nurse can have a direct affect on a patient's care and is important information for doctors and other nurses to have when providing medical care to a patient. Since many patients in intensive care situations cannot verbalize how they're feeling or what they need, an ICU nurse must carefully document all her observations and interactions with her patients, as this serves as the communication with doctors regarding a patient's condition. Throughout a patient's stay in an ICU, the nurse will let the patient know what is going on and what procedures are going to be done as she continually works to determine the patient's needs. She documents changes in condition and uses the patient chart as one method of communication between herself and other hospital personnel.


Assessment of a patient's condition is an ongoing process in the ICU. An ICU RN utilizes many methods to assess a patient's condition. He monitors vital statistics, checks the readings on any diagnostic machines to which the patient is hooked up and examines the patient's physical appearance. Although an ICU nurse works with other medical staff members to examine and assess the patient, he must be able to make immediate decisions and take action if warranted by a change in a patient's condition. When a patient is first admitted to an ICU, an ICU RN will continually assess the patient's condition as he and others work to stabilize the patient.

Treatment and Care

Following the orders of the doctor in charge, ICU nurses administer many different types of treatment to her patients. In the first few hours or days of a patient's stay, she may provide medicine and other treatments to help stabilize the patient's condition and make him more comfortable. Once the patient stabilizes, the nurse will continue to treat the patient with the goal of improving the patient's condition enough so he may be moved out of the ICU.

Responsibilities of an ICU Staff RN Working in an ICU requires careful assessment and monitoring of patient progress in order to watch for sudden or subtle Working in an ICU requires careful assessment and monitoring of patient progress in order to watch for sudden or subtle changes in a patients medical condition that might require emergency intervention. Most patients in a critical care unit are physically unstable and require respiratory and heart monitoring as well as treatment adjustments. ICU staff RNs are responsible for managing medication doses, anesthia and ventilatory support. Because ICU staff nurses work with patients who have life-threatening issues, they often encounter endof-life or ethical matters that may involve withholding medical care. ICU staff RNs need to provide regular status updates to patients and their family members so that they can make informed decisions regarding treatment. Skills and Focus Areas for Critical Care Nurses Many ICU staff RNs specialize in a particular area, such as adult or pediatric care, cardiology, neurocare or oncology. Each of these areas may involve different duties and specialized training. An ICU staff RN may care for just one patient or manage the care of several patients. Once patients recover from critical care, they are usually transferred to other units. Critical care nurses should be prepared to work long hours and deal with life-and-death situations on a daily basis. Excellent teamwork, multi-tasking and interpersonal communication skills are essential for an ICU staff RN, as is the ability to rise to challenges and stay calm under pressure. Many nurses find an ICU career rewarding because they play a key role in helping to save patients lives. Typical ICU Staff RN Salaries According to national salary data compiled by, the median annual salary for an ICU Staff RN was $68,111 as of November 2010. The middle 50% of nurses in this role earned between $61,646 and $73,514. ICU Staff RNs generally receive comprehensive benefits, including health insurance, paid time off and employer contributions toward a 401(k) or pension plan. How to Prepare for a Career as an ICU Staff RN ICU staff RNs need to have excellent assessment and clinical nursing skills to effectively care for patients with life-threatening conditions. For this critical role, employers seek nurses with advanced education, such as a bachelors degree in nursing. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) helps to prepare nurses for a variety of healthcare challenges and situations that can arise while on the job, and familiarizes them with technological advancements that make it possible to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Earning a BSN degreeensures you have a solid foundation in scientific and medical knowledge that will enable you to excel as an ICU staff RN.
Providing adequate care to the patient; Keeping them under close observation all through; Educating and supporting the patient's family on the care of the patient; Providing directions and guidance to the licensed practical nurses; Providing guidance and directions to the nursing assistants in the unit. ICU Nursing Job Features

Main job of the ICU registered nurses is to provide life support equipments like ventilators as well as the feeding tubes that would function properly supporting the life of the patient. In the process they also observe closely the heart beats, blood pressures and respiratory signals of distress in the patients. Administering IVs, providing medications as well as inserting catheters etc are also the part of their job.

What Critical Care Nurses Do Critical care nurses practice in settings where patients require complex assessment, highintensity therapies and interventions, and continuous nursing vigilance. Critical care nurses rely upon a specialized body of knowledge, skills and experience to provide care to patients and families and create environments that are healing, humane and caring. Foremost, the critical care nurse is a patient advocate. AACN defines advocacy as respecting and supporting the basic values, rights and beliefs of the critically ill patient. In this role, critical care nurses: Respect and support the right of the patient or the patient's designated surrogate to autonomous informed decision making. Intervene when the best interest of the patient is in question. Help the patient obtain necessary care. Respect the values, beliefs and rights of the patient. Provide education and support to help the patient or the patient's designated surrogate make decisions. Represent the patient in accordance with the patient's choices. Support the decisions of the patient or designated surrogate, or transfer care to an equally qualified critical care nurse. Intercede for patients who cannot speak for themselves in situations that require immediate action. Monitor and safeguard the quality of care the patient receives. Act as a liaison between the patient, the patient's family and other healthcare professionals. The Roles of Critical Care Nurses Critical care nurses work in a wide variety of settings, filling many roles including bedside clinicians, nurse educators, nurse researchers, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. With the onset of managed care and the resulting migration of patients to alternative settings, critical care nurses are caring for patients who are more ill than ever before. Managed care has also fueled a growing demand for advanced practice nurses in the acute care setting. Advanced practice nurses are those who have received advanced education at the master's or doctoral level. In the critical care setting, they are most frequently clinical nurse specialists (CNS) or acute care nurse practitioners (ACNP). A CNS is an expert clinician in a particular specialty critical care in this case. The CNS is responsible for the identification, intervention and management of clinical problems to improve care for patients and families. They provide direct patient care, including assessing, diagnosing, planning and prescribing pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment of health problems. ACNPs in the critical care setting focus on making clinical decisions related to complex patient care. Their activities include risk appraisal, interpretation of diagnostic tests and providing treatment, which may include prescribing medication.