4 Skills You Need To Be A Critical Care Nurse

Working in intensive care unit is often tiring and stressful. Nurses working in the ICU treat patients with critical medical conditions. At the same, the burden of treating a huge number of patients in a single day can wear them out mentally. The ICU provides for a high-stake environment where one minor mistake can lead to disaster. Therefore, it goes without saying that the nurses have to master a few skills necessary for operating under even the most benign ICU circumstances.

What is Critical Care?

Critical care is medical care provided to people suffering from critical injuries and terminal diseases. Critical care often occurs in an ICU or a critical-care unit where patients need twenty-four-hours monitoring so that changes in health conditions may be identified. An extra vigilant staff of nurses overlooks patients who are the most vulnerable. The responsibilities of a critical care nurse include conducting tests, aiding physicians perform medical examinations, preparing and administering treatment, etc.

What do you need to be a critical care nurse?

If you are a registered nurse and aspire to make it into critical care nursing, you need to have the right combination of education and skills to enter this specialized nursing program. The minimum requirement for a critical-care nurse is an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing (ADN), but your chances of landing more lucrative nursing positions increase with a master’s and a doctoral degree.

Therefore, if you were to pursue a master’s in nursing through online DNP programs, you might stand a better chance of landing some great nursing roles over the candidates who have ADN degrees only. Most employers prefer nurses with a master’s or DNP program degrees to meet the advanced needs of healthcare.

  1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are needed almost everywhere, however, in certain job settings, the role of effective communication is critical. Nurses working in critical care need effective communication skills more than anyone. Communicating medical records, results from assessments, and treatment progress reports with doctors as well as with patients are an integral part of their job.

On top of all this, they have to manage the anxiety and stress of the patients’ family members outside the critical care unit. However, when dealing with family members, the nurses take extra care not to paint false pictures and communicate the matter as clearly as possible. Essential communication skills for nurses include active listening, written and verbal communication, and presentation skills.

  1. Critical Thinking

Patients come to the intensive care unit facing life-threatening injuries and accidents; therefore, the nurses need to think fast and come up with the right solutions on the spot. The ability to think two-steps ahead of the disease’s progression is a vital critical thinking skill that nurses employ when prescribing or adjusting medical treatment with the help of professional doctors. Reading symptomatic signals of disease’s intensity or development is another skill that nurses hone through their experience working with medically critical patients.

Further, all these decisions have to be made in split seconds sometimes. Procedures like CPR, and other life-saving measures, cannot be delayed even by seconds. Making the decision to call the doctor when a patient’s health starts deteriorating can become an extremely important one when a patient’s life depends on it. To look for the life-threatening signs in a patient, therefore, requires that nurses hone their critical thinking skills to the best of their abilities.

  1. Teamwork

Nurses have to work and collaborate with a whole team of nurses, doctors, and surgeons. It is important that nurses realize that their role is just one of many in the healthcare setting. Therefore, constant collaboration and cooperation are the prerequisite skills you need to be a professional nurse.

Failure to build healthy relationships with members of the team, or even with patients, can impact your service as a healthcare provider and also lead to stagnation in your career development.

  1. Organizational Skills

For a nurse, there is little to no room for error, so having impeccable organizational skills are invaluable to the career of a nurse. Organziational skills are even more important for nurses working in crtical care. If you struggle to multitask and lack organizing skills, this job might not be ideal for you due to its inherently complex and demanding nature. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins shows that medical errors are the third major cause of death. Some of these errors are committed because of gaps in adhering to protocol and poorly coordinated treatment.


Nursing is a fulfilling yet an extremely demanding profession. Nurses need the right combination of education and skills to perform the job efficiently. So, apart from having an advanced nursing degree, you need to possess effective communication, teamwork skills, and critical thinking and organizational skills to make it to the top of your profession as a critical care nurse.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *