ICU nurses and those involved with critical care nursing are some of the unsung heroes of the medical world. Nothing has brought this more to light than the current COVID-19 crisis. In the wake of this pandemic, ICU nurses have stepped up and put their intense training to the test against unanticipated challenges.
Arizona ICU nurse Melody Nungaray-Ortiz shared her experience: “You feel the emotion of it every single day. You feel the stress of it every single day. … I can’t show my kids how sad or scared I feel sometimes. I can’t share with them my stories. I have to not let that show.”
It is this same intensity that motivates ICU nurses to continue serving patients every day. To celebrate ICU nurses, we wanted to explore what makes them unique and what skills they need to succeed.
Tips for Success in the ICU
You work long hours and push for perfection. That’s how you work the medical miracles you do and provide critical care. But don’t forget that you have needs, too. Avoiding burnout, relieving stress, and keeping your skills sharp are all essential. Here are a few tips for success:
Be confident in your education.
Judy Evans, RN and associate professor of nursing at Colorado Mountain College, says, “Nurses have new and expanding roles. They are case managers, helping patients navigate the maze of healthcare choices and develop plans of care. They are patient educators who focus on preventative care in a multitude of settings outside hospitals. And they are leaders, always identifying ways for their practice to improve. Because nurses have the most direct patient care, they have much influence on serious treatment decisions. It is a very high stakes job. Everyone wants the best nurse for the job, and that equates to the best-educated nurse.”
You must be confident in your education as an ICU nurse and constantly refresh your knowledge on disease protocols and processes, intubation, ventilators, paralytics, and sedative drips. You also need to understand core algorithms for lifesaving treatment found in certifications for basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS), and pediatric advanced life support (PALS). Invest time in refreshing your current skills and learning new ones. The excitement of learning new things will keep your job from becoming monotonous and make you a better nurse.
Don’t be afraid of therapy or HR.
Talking to a qualified professional about the stressors and influence of your job in the ICU is crucial to your mental and emotional health. Too many nurses are afraid to go to therapy or talk to their supervisors or HR department about their mental health needs, but doing so enables you to be better. You can only care for your patients as well as you care for yourself.
If you need a break, take a break.
“When a person decides to become a nurse, they make the most important decision of their lives. They choose to dedicate themselves to the care of others,” says Margaret Harvey, PhD, RN, and president of the Indianapolis Campus of the Chamberlain College of Nursing. But that dedication also means that burnout can be one of the most difficult challenges you face as an ICU nurse.
Daily relaxation and mindfulness can help you pace yourself and process the emotions of each day, but if you find yourself starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break. Some nurses return to school to learn a new specialty. Others seek a temporary career change. Do whatever you need to do to stay healthy and happy.
Continue Your Education
Continuing to strengthen your skills and increase your knowledge will help you reach new heights of success as an ICU nurse. But balancing your work, life, and training can be difficult. That’s where ACLS Certification Institute by CareerCert can help.
We specialize in online certifications that give busy healthcare professionals the convenience of learning whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for them. Our content is continually refreshed to ensure your education is both interesting and in-depth.
More than 10,000 healthcare providers have used our courses to sharpen their skills and improve patient outcomes. If you are looking for a way to take some of the stress from your certifications without jeopardizing the quality, explore our options today!
- Polo C. Arizona ICU nurse shares what it’s like to fight COVID-19. ABC 15 Arizona. Jun 23, 2020. https://www.abc15.com/news/state/arizona-icu-nurse-shares-what-its-like-to-fight-covid-19.
- Khan W. 5 tips to help new ICU nurses who feel ‘stupid.’ Nurse.org. Jan 16, 2019. https://nurse.org/articles/new-ICU-nurse-advice/.
- Luna A. 7 must-have ICU nursing skills needed to succeed. Onward Healthcare. Accessed on Jul 31, 2020. https://www.onwardhealthcare.com/nursing-resources/seven-must-have-icu-nursing-skills-needed-to-succeed/.
- 10 of the most inspiring quotes about nursing. Becker’s Hospital Review. Accessed on Sept 8, 2020. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/10-of-the-most-inspiring-quotes-about-nursing.html.
- Returning to school after discipline. Allnurses. Jul 29, 2020. https://allnurses.com/returning-school-discipline-t723322/.
- Changing career temporarily. Allnurses. Jun 10, 2020. https://allnurses.com/changing-career-temporarily-t721172/.
- Coping with depression and my job. Allnurses. Aug 18, 2020. https://allnurses.com/coping-depression-job-t724158/.