ICU nurses and those immersed in critical care nursing emerge as the unsung champions of healthcare, a truth illuminated by the resounding echoes of the COVID-19 crisis. In the aftermath of this pandemic, ICU nurses have fearlessly embraced the call, putting their unwavering training to the ultimate test amidst unforeseen trials.
Arizona ICU nurse Melody Nungaray-Ortiz shared her experience during the pandemic: “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.”
Driven by this same intensity, ICU nurses persist in their relentless service to patients. To honor these extraordinary individuals, we wanted to explore what makes them unique and the essential skills that fuel their remarkable success.
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:
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.
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.
“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.
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 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 100,000 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!