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The ICU is one of the busiest departments in a hospital. In 2020, California’s average ICU occupation status was 75.4%. However, only 18.1% of the patients were affected by COVID-19 [1]. The majority of patients in the ICU are admitted for heart conditions, respiratory problems, or serious infections. With a wide range of patients to monitor, it’s important to seek ICU nurse resources to ensure outstanding patient care and minimize burnout.

You, an ICU nurse, must closely monitor patient vitals and operate complex equipment. Experienced nurses can empathize that it can be overwhelming monitoring equipment for multiple patients at one time. However, at Eisenhower Health, the patient to nurse ratio is 2:1 with ample resources to rely on. Additionally, the ICU is a fast-paced, demanding environment. That’s why we want to help new ICU nurses. In this blog, we’ll discuss helpful tools and resources to excel as an ICU nurse.

ICU Nurse Resources 4 Tips infographic

Complete ICU CE Courses

Continuing education (CE) courses provide the latest and greatest information under a strict curriculum. Furthermore, CE classes target specific topics to provide in-depth knowledge on that subject matter. Look into CE courses offered by the AACN, especially the class for ICU nurses working with pulmonary complications. The course covers:

  • Analyzing ABGs, oxygenation and ventilation;
  • Caring for patients who are experiencing acute respiratory failure;
  • Proper care for patients requiring endotracheal intubation or invasive mechanical ventilation
  • Managing medical equipment and responses, including sudden awakening trials, neuromuscular blockade, prevention of complications, and more.

Nowadays, CE courses offer eLearning courses that can be taken online. Additionally, the AACN offers free CE courses with certification that delves deeper into specific topics. This provides nurses the flexibility to manage course load with their schedule. ICU nurses will be able to cross-train or refresh their skills to better prepare for the work demand.

Memorize Equipment and Procedures

Each department has its unique set of processes and procedures. As a first-time ICU nurse, familiarizing yourself with the medical equipment, terminology, and standard practice is critical. Create a reference fact sheet that you can study while on the floor. Alternatively, store resource books and guides in your nurse bag for quick reference. The key to studying these concepts is constant exposure and repetition. If you have difficulty memorizing the button functions of a machine, spend time touching the buttons and knobs while repeating their functions out loud.

Most nurses tend to carry a pocketbook with important numbers and schedules. When an emergency arises, it’s best to know the first available point of contact. Also, knowing the direct line for closely related departments can save a lot of time. Once you become more familiar with the nature of the ICU, it’ll be easier to predict the proper course of action.

Invest in Quality Nursing Equipment

Efficiency is key in the ICU. There’s nothing more frustrating than holding an item, setting it down, and then being unable to find it when you really need it. Experienced nurses recommend having a nurse utility belt for ease of access to your equipment. Since it’s always on your person, there’s no need to worry about misplacing important equipment like a thermometer. The utility belt is versatile where items can also be chained on. You can clip a stethoscope holder to the belt and keep it protected.

In a critical situation, you don’t have a lot of time to spare. The goal is to maximize the amount of time on the patient, rather than looking for equipment or calling the entire nurse team for assistance. Also, the utility belt is a convenient holder for your pocketbook to access important information or emergency contacts.

Create a Priority Task Sheet

Time management skills are highly desired for any nurse position. But it’s vital to have excellent time management skills in the ICU. After receiving patient reports, take some time to build out your shift schedule. Break it down by hour with priority tasks that need to be completed. Which patient needs their medication administered? Is there a patient being discharged?

Creating a visual of your calendar will lead to effective time management. This provides a realistic outlook for your rounds. It can also serve as an opportunity to rely on your team. If someone is working in the same area, but you’re falling behind, you can ask for a favor (and return it later on). This ensures that the patient receives outstanding care, even when you’re preoccupied with other tasks. As time progresses, you can provide an accurate estimate for each task item.

ICU Nursing at Eisenhower Health

Eisenhower Health supports the professional and personal development of our nurse team. Our health care workers have full access to renowned doctors and an extensive resource database. Whether you’re a recent grad or an experienced nurse, we want you to join our team in Southern California. Explore our available ICU nurse resources on our blog. Also, check our available ICU nursing positions with comprehensive benefits package, or visit this link: https://careers.eisenhowerhealth.org/jobs/registered-nurse-rn-intensive-care-units/

Originally posted on 22/12/2021

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