The Focus is on Balancing Oxygen Supply and Demand to Organs
In light of this, ICU care can look different than other types of nursing. With COVID-19 patients, you may not wash or turn your patients, if this causes increased oxidative stress. Our priority is to protect organs, and hopefully save lives. We are willing to have interventions like baths wait, if the patient isn’t able to tolerate them.
For example: If the patient’s SPO2 decreases after every turn, assess why they desaturate after every turn, build a plan for the next turn and a plan to evaluate your intervention.
Critical care work is different from a ward, but the same basic activities of assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation still apply.
Maximally Curative and Palliative Care
There will also be palliative and end of life care. We can never save everyone- this is a difficult reality of critical care. Supportive palliative care is also very important and will be part of your role. You may need help to cope with this. Speak, reach out, you are not alone in this and it’s okay to feel impacted by what is happening. Your mental health may be affected by the situation, so be aware of how you are feeling.
You Are Valued
Also remember, the most important person to care for in ICU is YOU.
You come with knowledge and experience – this includes when you were in training and your independent practice. Share your opinion and experience!
The nurse is the central connection for a patient’s care. There can be up to 20 people involved in each ICU patient’s care, and the nurse is the person who keeps information flowing. You will need to know about your patient in depth and share the knowledge with the team. You will also need to advocate for your patient and ensure everyone’s opinion is being considered.
There may also be times where other nurses complete interventions, and your job is to assign duties and document. It is essential have clear direction about what the patient needs, so standing back and delegating can organize the team. Like any nursing, if you need help or have questions, always ask.