Five Challenges Intensive Care Nurses Face

Intensive Care Nurses

Critical care or ICU nurses are highly trained and specialized healthcare personnel who offer effective nursing care to every patient with life-threatening conditions or illnesses. ICU nurses need the technical knowledge, skills, and experience patients require to survive or de-escalate care. They are well-trained to make split-second decisions when required and act promptly when any patient’s health status changes. The primary work environment for these nurses in the hospital is in specialized or intensive care units, where patients require a high level of critical care when admitted to the hospital. However, ICU nurses may face many challenges, and they have to overcome these challenges to provide effective care to their patients.

Where Do ICU Nurses Work?

The difficult nature of ICU responsibilities requires specialized training, equipment, and resources. The need for this specialized optimal emergency critical care in ICUs forces hospitals to share resources. Positioning nurses and an ICU unit at centralized, larger hospitals and teaching facilities. A Hospital without any essential care facilities builds transfer agreements with its nearest ICU. Intensive care nurses practice almost exclusively within these critical care units. However, not much work is done by way of policy or outreach because of the nature of their role.

Difficulty In Handling Older Patients

Nurses perform a pivotal role in handling and promoting the health of various age groups of seriously ill patients, especially the elderly, by giving advanced care. With the online AGACNP program, intensive care nurses can improve health outcomes for elderly patients with acute and chronic health ailments. Such programs are designed for ICU nurses to offer compassionate care to their patients and make quick decisions in emergencies. 

Every hospital setting needs to explore the ICU nurses’ perspective and experience regarding barriers to giving care to geriatric patients. Understanding such experiences will help develop interventions to enhance the provision of care for critically ill patients to make their life better.

ICU Nurses Are Underpaid

ICU nurses are vital in healthcare settings and perform a key role in providing critical care to severely ill patients. As a result, these nurses develop the skill and stamina to deliver exceptional patient care and serve in leadership positions at health facilities, hospitals, and other organizations. However, these nurses do not get sufficient financial compensation and recognition for their crucial role, which is, at times, more demanding than physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Dealing With Aggressive Patients

Another challenge that ICU nurses may contend with is patients’ aggressive behavior. Most elderly patients are extremely tough to deal with and, at times, very aggressive. Uncooperative patients can be challenging because they need firm yet compassionate attention to ensure their well-being. As a result, a nursing career can become highly demanding and infuriating. 

Coping With ICU Challenges 

Nursing practice is critical in offering quality ICU services, including minor surgeries. However, the services they perform for each patient are unique. Dealing with multiple patients with varying degrees of critical injuries or diseases can be challenging. The resulting stress is caused by several important factors like the patient’s illness, operating environment, workload, expertise, and the requisite patient outcomes. A common symptom of stress in ICUs is compassion exhaustion and burnout. 

Compassion exhaustion and burnout are temporary symptoms that can be managed and prevented through meditation and focusing on the skills that make you an effective ICU nurse. The challenges faced by ICU nurses are numerous, but many nurses who join this profession develop above-average physical and mental endurance and find different ways to adapt and cope with the stress.

Shortage Of ICU Nurses

According to research, the nurse-to-patient ratio is used to evaluate patient safety concerning workload in the nursing profession. The nurse-to-patient ratio is considered practical as it is simple to use and readily available. It’ll probably be used as a standard for measuring every aspect of intensive care unit treatment. Evidence indicates that patients in critical care units may encounter many negative results because of inadequate nursing care, including longer hospital stays and different in-hospital infections. To prevent these negative outcomes, hospital administration must focus more attention on the provision of nursing skills and staff.


Nursing is a field full of challenges and struggles that demand complete attention and dedication to providing quality care to patients with severe illnesses. ICU nurses encounter a lot of daunting hurdles due to the extreme attention that intensive care patient necessitates. ICU nurses face huge challenges and obstacles related to their jobs, such as heavy workload, lack of respect from other healthcare professionals, and exposure to various health hazards and diseases, affecting patient care quality. However, ICU nurses need to overcome these problems to offer their severely ill patients better care at all times.

ICU nurses have to work on strengthening the interactions with their colleagues and physicians and improve organizational practices, work demands, and appreciation for their competence to decrease the struggles they face at work.

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