The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) presents a challenging set of responsibilities for an ICU Nurse.  Registered nurses (RNs) in this department work with patients who are in critical condition, requiring 24/7 care. ICU Nurses are primarily responsible for applying their nursing specialities to maintain a patient’s health and life. Common responsibilities include head-to-toe assessments, wound care, medication administration, and much more. Similarly, an ICU Nurse will chart vitals and monitor the patient’s condition to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Unlike other Registered Nurse jobs, ICU Nurses work with unstable patients that face life-threatening conditions. A patient is considered unstable when their respiratory or cardiovascular systems require constant monitoring due to their weak state. Though the daily tasks remain the same, each day is unpredictable and can result in an ICU intervention in case the patient’s body system abruptly stops.

This nursing job requires attention to detail and high critical thinking, as well as great social skills to make a patient feel comfortable. Oftentimes, nursing professionals in this field enjoy the opportunity to establish genuine connections with their patients. ICU Nurses are known for their compassion and humanity while following complex tasks in order to deliver a higher level of patient care.


Eisenhower Career Registered Nursing Job Page

What are the ICU Nurse Qualifications?

ICU Nurses are required to have the same degree and certifications as any other registered nursing job. They must have a Bachelor degree in nursing and a state license. Additionally, certifications for BLS/CPR and ACLR are highly necessary in the ICU. A clear distinction between an ICU Nurse and RN is the CCRN Adult Certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Obtaining the CCRN Adult certificate requires RNs to directly care and actively work with acutely/critically ill adult patients. RNs can choose between the 2-year program that requires 1,750 hours of clinical work or the 5-year program that requires 2,000 hours of clinical work. Under the direct supervision of a nurse practitioner, aspiring ICU Nurses will learn how to: care for acute/clinically ill patients, conduct comprehensive assessments, administer drugs and medication, and identify treatment pathways. Therefore, the complete list of requirements for ICU Nurses are:


  • ADN or BSN in Nursing
  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • Active state license as a registered nurse
  • 2 years of nursing experience in intensive care nursing positions
  • Current BLS/CPR and ACLS certification
  • CCRN Adult Certification

Desirable qualities of an ICU Nurse are:

  • Critical thinkers who can analyze data to determine health conditions
  • Tracks information and patient records in an organized manner
  • Prepared to deliver intensive care in case of health emergencies
  • Develop a treatment pathway based on the patient’s age, health condition, and personal beliefs
  • Monitor, record, and update patient vitals to note any significant health changes
  • Detail-oriented when taking notes and vitals with the ability to deliver an assessment on patient’s health status to other team members
  • High emotional intelligence to create a positive patient care experience that includes simplifying medical terminology and concepts to the patient

What are the ICU Nurse Job Responsibilities?

So, what are the specific responsibilities that make this nursing specialty different? An ICU Nurse typically:

  • Assesses, utilizing age specific data, the patient’s physical, psychosocial, and spiritual status in a comprehensive manner
  • Demonstrates accurate assessment skills, appropriate to the age of the patient, based on scientific facts and principles
  • Performs initial assessment and completes required documentation within organizational standards
  • Performs and documents ongoing assessments including observation, physical examination, laboratory/test results, and patient response to procedural intervention
  • Participates in the identification and clarification of patient needs, as evidenced by participation in multidisciplinary care planning, to achieve optimal patient outcomes
  • Assists other staff in the delivery of patient care, as appropriate
  • Incorporates patient teaching/discharge planning to promote optimal patient outcomes
  • Coordinates and documents appropriate discharge planning and referrals to ensure continuity of care after discharge

What are available ICU Nursing Specialties?

RNs can acquire Continuing Education (CE) credits to work with a specific patient population. Each ward is categorized based on health condition, so a Neurological ICU Nurse would work with patients who have/had a brain or spinal cord injury. Open registered nursing jobs related to Intensive Care at Eisenhower Health are:


Medical Surgical ICU Nurse – Provide direct care to ICU patients before surgery and post operation in order to stabilize their condition. Common ailments experienced by patients that require this care include: traumatic brain injuries, hip and knee replacements, and more.


Neonatal ICU (NICU) Nurse – Provide direct care to newborn or infant patients with life-threatening conditions and illnesses. Other nursing jobs in the Neonatal field are NICU Respiratory Care Nurse who specialize in intubation care to reduce the length of hospital stay for the infant.

How do I know if ICU Nursing is right for me?

There are many registered nurse jobs to pursue. Each department presents a unique nursing specialty with its own set of responsibilities and qualifications. The ICU presents opportunities to establish a personal connection with patients while delivering the care they need to remain comfortable. Shifts won’t be monotonous because you’ll help new patients with different health conditions every time. A team of ICU Nurses will work together to help patients achieve success in the form of recovery and discharge, which are extremely fulfilling times for a nurse.

Where are the Registered Nursing Jobs Near Me?

When you work at Eisenhower Health, you gain the opportunities to pursue various nursing specialities, so you can deliver outstanding care to our patients in the Palm Springs area. Check out our available registered nursing jobs on the Careers page, specifically in the Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit and Surgery Room.

Originally posted on 23/4/2021

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