The ICU nurse. Some say it means Icy Cold and
Unfriendly, Intolerably Condescending and Uncivil, or
maybe Impenetratingly Contemptuous and Uncompromising. Whatever your definition, these traits are not
inborn. The following steps can get you started along the way to becoming a
Crack ICU nurse.
First get rid of
your nursing school
smile. ICU nurses are a grim, serious lot.
Their patients are
ILL! Replace that
smile with a chip on your shoulder.
contempt for other
nurses is the rule and
intimidation is the
key to control these
nurses. If a Med-Surg
nurse has the audacity to transfer a patient to you,~.
make her sweat by firing questions at her, like: “What’s his crit? What’s his K?
Any ectopy?” Sneer when you say , “You didn’t listen
to his breath sounds? Did you try to palp a BP?” Yawn
when she tries to redeem herself by reciting the color
and consistency of his last five bowel movements.
Remember that ER nurses are your most dangerous enemies. They have the power to admit patients
even when you have no beds. Supervisors bend over
backwards to shuffle inpatients around for these
ER nurses are also difficult to intimidate because
they have answers to all your questions. Astute observation can save the day, however. Glaring omissions
can be pointed out, such as: “No-one signed this clothing sheet … wrote a laxative order … totaled this 1&0
sheet … labeled this IV bag.” Don’t get too carried
away or they will punish you by delivering your patient while you’re in report, leaving
for lunch, or
forget that visiting hours are visiting hours.
barge into your
unit five minutes before the hour, firmly turn
them back, reminding them that you
need to complete
your life-saving work
if they expect to visit a
live family member.
Use visiting hours for family
teaching. Teach them not to touch anything without
your permission. Teach them to rely on your judgment
since the patient’s doctors can’t agree on anything. Finally, explain DRGs to them; this will motivate them
when you teach them how to administer TPN in the
home when their loved one is discharged.
Practice that Incredibly Cranky and Unaccommodating look in the mirror until it’s perfect. No,
That’s not it. Try again. No, that’s Immeasurably
Cheerful and Uplifting- that’s for the other floors.
Now you’ve got it. Congratulations, and welcome to
the world of ICU nursing!