If you are a nurse who is very intelligent, has lightning fast responses, and works well under stress, then you could consider a career in the critical care nursing field. You will be responsible for taking care of critically ill patients and their families and ensuring that they receive holistic and compassionate specialist care.
Critical patients are those who face life-threatening illnesses or have had serious accidents. Most of these patients are admitted into Intensive Care, Cardiac Care or Emergency Departments and may require multiple surgeries. Their condition is typically unstable and volatile and needs to be monitored very closely. As a critical care nurse, you can work in a wide variety of settings, with job descriptions that include those of emergency nurses, nurse educators, nurse researchers, nurse managers, cardiac care nurses, trauma nurses, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. You should be able to provide patients with complex assessment, specialised therapies and interventions and closely monitored nursing vigilance.
Today, with advancements in managed care, many critically ill patients are taken care of in alternative settings such as community centres and long-term care facilities. You should be able to use your knowledge, skills, and experience creates environments for patients and their families that are positive, healing, compassionate and caring.
In the case of terminally ill patients, you will be required to support the basic values, rights and beliefs of your patient. Regardless of your personal beliefs, you should always respect the right of the patient or his or her designated surrogate to make autonomous informed decisions about their treatment and care plan. If the patient’s best interests are in doubt, you should intervene gently and firmly and help the patient to get the appropriate care.
As a critical care nurse, you should provide the necessary education and support to help the patient or the patient’s designated surrogate make decisions, and give them clarity on their medical condition as required. You should also be well versed in palliative care approaches and treatment and should be able to offer solace and counselling to patients and their families.
At all times you should act as the liaison between the patient, the patient’s family and other healthcare professionals. Critical care nursing, therefore, requires a high level of knowledge and understanding, and the ability to offer humane support and guidance as needed. With advances in medical technology and treatment happening every other day, critical care nurses must stay updated with global developments and ensure that they have the skills to give their patients optimal care. Patient care has become more complex and evolved, and as a critical care nurse you should be well versed in the care delivery systems and mechanisms that support the patient’s needs. Some hospitals may require you to validate your knowledge of current best practices in acute/critical care nursing by updating your continuing education and clinical experience requirements. You must undertake continued professional development and interact with your peers and seniors to make sure you have current knowledge and skills, in the best interests of the critically ill patients under your care.