Why You Should be Working in Intensive Care

Stethoscope sitting over a white background

Intensive care medicine or critical care relates to the diagnosis and management of severe and life-threatening conditions requiring organ support and constant monitoring. Such type of care typically takes place in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital.

Intensive care units may focus on a particular type of patient, for example a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) caters only to newborns needing specialised care while others may focus on patients who have recently undergone major or complicated surgery.


If you are wondering why you should work in the ICU, you’ll often hear that recovered patients generally speak highly of the staff in ICU, the care they received, and the extra lengths staff sometimes go to in order to facilitate recovery.

The role of staff working in intensive care is to support the patients physically and mentally, and assist with helping the patient become medically stable so that they can be transferred to another unit for continued recovery and rehabilitation.

Patients may be in the ICU for a few days to many weeks and liaising with family and offering emotional support is a key duty of an ICU nurse. ICU staff also have to work closely with allied health staff such as physiotherapists, radiographers and psychologists.

ICUs operate 24 hours a day and those already working in the ICU say the sensory stimuli can take some time getting used to. There is constant noise from life support equipment and monitors but often little or no input from patients themselves as they are usually heavily sedated.

When asked why work in ICU, intensive care staff say they appreciate being part of a team. They also like the fact that they are always learning because each patient experience is different and the skills they learn while working in the ICU are transferable to many other departments.

Because the patients in ICUs have complex and high needs, the nurse to patient ratio is low and nurses report enjoying the opportunity to really get to know their patients. Shifts for ICU staff are typically 12-hours and most ICUs offer sufficient downtime to allow staff to recharge.

Working in intensive care requires expert technical skills, the ability to use specialist equipment such as ventilators, and being able to remain calm in a crisis because emergencies are routine in ICUs.

You’ll often have to make rapid judgements and decisions in high-pressure situations, and ICU staff are probably the most autonomous of all other specialities.

Regular medical and technological advances mean that intensive care is one of the fastest developing areas in health care and many ICU professionals enjoy being at the forefront of exciting breakthroughs in medical science. If this sounds like an area you would like to work, please feel free to browse our job opportunities.