ICU Nurse Job Description

ICU Nurse Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an ICU nurse. You can use our job description template in this article to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an ICU nurse.


Who is an ICU Nurse?

An Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse is a highly skilled medical professional who gives nursing care to patients with life-threatening illnesses or conditions. They give patients the information and expertise they need to survive or deescalate treatment.

ICU nurses act swiftly when a patient’s condition changes and make split-second choices. The hospital’s specialized care units are where they spend most of their time working. Most ICU patients are admitted to the hospital because they require a high degree of care.

ICU nurses look after patients who are deemed unstable. This indicates that either their respiratory or cardiovascular systems are unstable, or there is a significant risk that one or both of these systems will become unstable and need closer monitoring.

Due to the higher standard of care in the ICU, procedures like intubation, initiating vasopressors, or pacing a patient’s heart (among other interventions, which are very situation-dependent) may be initiated swiftly and efficiently.

ICU nurses typically do well because they enjoy managing the condition and outcomes of a single patient and collecting data. It is equally crucial to have an open mind and pay attention to processes. ICU nurses have a great deal of compassion and are not afraid to speak out for their patients in front of upset family members.

An ICU nurse may be required to perform family liaison responsibilities, which include educating and supporting the patient and the patient’s family.

The ICU nurse will communicate with the new team to facilitate a secure transition when a patient is discharged from the ICU and sent to another hospital unit.


ICU Nurse Job Description

Below are the ICU nurse job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The duties and responsibilities of the ICU Nurse include the following:

  • Determine any sudden or subtle changes in the patient’s medical state and evaluate and track the patient’s progress.
  • Use oral, sublingual, transdermal, subcutaneous, gastric tubes, intramuscular, intravenous, and other delivery methods to provide drugs (PO).
  • Assist with bedside procedures, code blues, and intubations
  • Inform doctors, patients, and relatives on the progress of the patient frequently.
  • Carry out approved diagnostic or therapeutic procedures depending on the patient’s clinical situation.
  • Respond to medical emergencies as needed and notify the proper doctors.
  • Observe the patient’s vital signs and test results to assess the necessity for emergency action.
  • Provide patient needs during their ICU rehabilitation
  • Promote the needs of patients and their families.
  • Assist patients and their families with their emotional needs.
  • Set up and monitor pressure lines, oxygen delivery systems, and medical ventilators should all be set up and monitored.
  • Determine the patient’s level of discomfort and sedative needs.
  • Keep patient records.



  • Obtain a nursing bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution of higher learning or a nursing degree from a nursing school
  • Licensed as a registered nurse
  • Acquire a certification
  • Earn a master’s degree in the relevant field
  • Experienced for a few years in a nursing role


Essential Skills

Here are the skills you require to excel in your career as an Intensive Care Unit Nurse:

  • Team-playing
  • Emergency
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Ability to work Under Pressure
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Organizational
  • Patience
  • Listening
  • Stress Reduction
  • Diagnostic Tests
  • Telemetry


Although nurses are usually a part of multidisciplinary teams, they work more closely in intensive care units. Every healthcare provider you work with will contribute to your patient’s acute treatment. Treatment mistakes can happen if teams don’t communicate well. Additionally, because these patients have such complex needs, even the smallest error could be harmful to their health. Positive team culture is also crucial for morale in this setting. In this really difficult climate, you must encourage one another and be there for one another.


For nurses who work in intensive care units, triaging patients and understanding their level of urgency is essential. The highest level of urgency is reserved for patients experiencing respiratory failure or failure in at least two organ systems, according to a healthcare standard that divides care into four categories based on the severity of the issue or the urgency of the patient’s needs. ICU nurses need to be skilled at assessing a patient’s condition, responding properly, and providing the necessary amount of care to prevent things from getting worse and instead assist patients in achieving higher levels of stability.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Another essential skill for ICU nurses is the ability to perform CPR and determine when it is required. The risk of a patient needing CPR at any particular time is high because the ICU treats a significant portion of severe or life-threatening diseases. This intervention must be carried out by ICU nurses without error or delay.

Ability to Work Under Pressure

The intensive care unit is frequently a high-stress setting. Some personality types may not naturally excel at maintaining composure under duress. ICU nurses must know how to maintain mental stability under all conditions because their work frequently entails life-or-death situations and many patients are in high demand or stressed at any given moment. This is crucial for patients, their friends and family, and other staff members.

Cultural Sensitivity

Medical workers interact with people from many different demographic groups. Many comprise individuals of various racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. The ability to offer patients high-quality medical care while exhibiting keen knowledge of their particular cultural values and identities is cultural competence in nursing. Certain beliefs are frequently part of or implied by cultural identities. A good intensive care unit nurse will predict how these belief systems may affect the patient’s attitudes, choices, and behaviors. Regardless of whether they hold certain values, culturally competent nurses may discuss them with understanding and interest.


Poor organizational skills can also result in mistakes in patient care, much like poor communication with the team. Working in such a chaotic setting demands that you be alert and in control at all times. To do your job well, you’ll need to know exactly where to look for the information you need and how to get there. However, you must also guarantee that the patient data you record is current and entirely accurate. The staff can be dealing with erroneous data if patient records and other documentation aren’t filled out completely. Perhaps giving medication in excess or insufficiently, or giving other aspects of treatment incorrectly.


When working in the intensive care unit, patience is especially crucial because family members are frequently alarmed and perplexed and could ask the nurse for information about their loved one. To keep the patient’s environment tranquil and conducive to healing, it is crucial to remain composed, manage the situation deftly, and provide pertinent information to the family.


ICU nurses must also have excellent listening skills because most patients discuss their symptoms rather than what they need to recover. To ensure an appropriate diagnosis and course of treatment, ICU nurses must be able to listen intently and pick up on any clues regarding the state and demands of the patient.

Stress Management

ICU nurses must effectively control their stress to perform their duties. It might be stressful for these nurses to deal with the numerous emergency and seriously ill patients they frequently encounter. An ICU nurse’s ability to deal with stress effectively will determine whether she can handle any situation and make wise decisions.

Diagnostic Tests

Intensive care unit nurses are frequently in charge of rapidly acquiring basic information regarding a patient’s status so that the treating physicians have the best possible grasp of what might be going on. ICU nurses, therefore, need to be highly knowledgeable and skilled in conducting diagnostic and testing procedures.


The technique of using a portable device to keep track of a patient’s vital signs, particularly their heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen saturation, is known as telemetry. A patient can be continually monitored with telemetry devices for an extended period without being constrained by attachment to a bedside cardiac monitor. The individuals who connect and maintain a patient’s telemetry device are frequently ICU nurses. To ensure that a patient’s condition does not deteriorate, this instrument and the data it offers are essential (and detecting it immediately if it does).


How to Become an ICU Nurse

Below are the steps you can take to become an Intensive Care Unit Nurse:

Step One: Acquire a Nursing Degree

Obtaining a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing is the first need for becoming an ICU nurse. Having this degree equips you with the fundamental information necessary to carry out nursing tasks and comprehend medical jargon. Additionally, you get to practice your skills and knowledge on actual patients under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Step Two: Pass Nursing Licensure Exam

You can practice as a registered nurse after passing the National Council Licensure Examination in your country. This stage is required before you may work in an ICU since ICU nurses are a specific kind of registered nurse. You must submit an application for licensure and registration with your local Nursing regulatory body.

Step Three: Obtain a State License

Your state may require licensure for practicing nurses, depending on where you work. Local criteria can differ, but they frequently include a nursing degree certificate and documentation that you passed the exam. When you have satisfied these requirements, apply to your state’s nursing board to obtain your nursing license.

Step Four: Gain Relevant Experience

The following step to becoming an ICU nurse is to gain work experience. A registered nursing position that allows you to assist in the ICU or work with patients in emergencies is possible. To become a registered ICU nurse, you normally need two to five years of work experience. During this time, you develop crucial treatment skills and gain knowledge of catastrophic illnesses and injuries.

Step Five: Become Certified as an Intensive Care Unit Nurse

There are a few ways to become certified as an ICU nurse, but many need direct patient care experience and a current nursing license. In the USA, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, or AACN, administers the exam required for the Certification for ICU Nurses, or CCRN certification. For specialist areas of ICU nursing, such as neonatal or cardiac medicine, which could have more stringent standards, there are many variants of the CCRN.

Step Six: Apply for ICU Nursing Positions

You can apply for ICU positions at numerous healthcare facilities with your credentials. If you selected a specialization, you might look for employment in particular settings, such as cardiac catheter labs or post-operative centers. ICU nurses frequently opt to work inwards within hospitals, such as the ICU, NICU, or surgical department.


Where to Work as an ICU Nurse

Intensive unit care nurses can work in emergency rooms, intensive care units, cardiac care units, cardiac catheter labs, telemetry units, cardiac rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care facilities are examples of healthcare facilities.


ICU Nurse Salary Scale

In the USA, the average ICU nurse’s income is $43.32 per hour or $84,476 annually. Most experienced workers earn up to $117,003 per year, while entry-level roles start at $66,617.

The yearly wage range for ICU nurses in the UK is £27,040 to £99,281, or £55,122 on average.

In Canada, the typical ICU nurse earns CA$80,369 per year or CA$41.22 per hour. Most experienced workers earn up to CA$94,634 a year, while entry-level occupations start at CA$76,362 annually.

In Australia, the average ICU nurse’s income is AU$87,750 per year or AU$45 per hour. Most experienced workers can earn up to AU$116,656 per year, while entry-level roles start at AU$77,476 annually.

ICU nurses make an average gross pay of €59,499 or €29 per hour in Germany. The typical salary for an entry-level intensive care unit nurse (1-3 years of experience) is €42,250. A senior-level intensive care unit nurse makes an average pay of €73,605 € (8+ years of experience).

In Ireland, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse makes an average income of €35,876.

In Nigeria, the average monthly salary for an ICU Registered Nurse is roughly ₦280,000. The salary range is between ₦140,000 to ₦434,000.

The salary scale of an intensive care unit nurse might differ significantly depending on various crucial aspects, including education, location, certifications, skills, and expertise in the field.

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