Tips for new ICU nurses

Working in the ICU can be both an exciting yet scary experience. Not only will you be able to experience different cases and scenarios, but you will also learn a lot of things, honing you to become a better nurse. However, for first timers and newcomers, entering the Intensive Care Unit may a bit intimidating. Here are some tips to help you get through if you are an ICU nurse or is aspiring to become one.

Manage your time well

As an ICU nurse, you care for patients with multiple medications to be administered and procedures to be performed, almost at the same time. Aside from these, you also have to carry out new orders from doctors who have conducted their rounds. All of these you have to do in an 8-hour or 12-hour shift. This is where time management comes in handy. You have to set our priorities according to urgency and allocate your time wisely.

Move quickly but do not rush

Yes, time is precious. That is why you have to move extra quick, but not in the sense that you keep on rushing things. By doing the latter, you might be prone to committing mistakes and overlooking things. Never exceed your speed of safe practice.

Take needed breaks. Don’t skip lunch

As much as possible, don’t skip lunch breaks. Yes, you have a lot to do, but you also need food and energy to keep on functioning in a toxic environment. You wouldn’t want to faint in the middle of caring for your patient, would you?

In case of doubt, ask

Don’t be afraid to see help when you need one especially when it comes to risky assignments. Ask for help if you find something confusing like a doctor’s order, a certain medication dose or any other concern. It’s better to lose your pride than to lose a life.

Always document

At all times. Document your assessments, what procedures you’ve performed, what medication you’ve administered. Again, do not rush when charting. What if something actually did happen and you had nothing charted or if you forgot to document some important things?


Going on duty at the ICU may be very challenging at first, but when you get used to the routines and all the whereabouts, you may find that it is one meaningful experience. Who knows? You might love being an ICU nurse.

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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