Top 7 ICU nursing skills you should be aware of

ICU nursing skills

ICU nursing skills? Does it really matter?

Indeed it does. From our previous blog, you should’ve learned about who an intensive care nurse is and the steps involved to become one. Now, this blog aims to give you further insights into the ICU nursing skills that you need to garner to become a “perfect one” and the kinds of specialties available within the ICU nurse category.

What are the duties of an ICU nurse?

ICU nurses often work in a breakneck environment, where they are required to be on their toes to support surgeons during emergencies. They are put to handle many crucial responsibilities to offer care and ensure the healthcare runs smoothly. Some of the roles of an ICU nurse includes;

  • Diagnose and offering prescription medications to patients
  • Handle medical tools and machinery
  • Constantly monitoring patients’ progress
  • Measure vitals like heart rate
  • Offer comfort to patients and their families
  • Undertake paperwork pertaining to patients
  • Help curate care plan for patients
  • Offer lab assistance to patients
  • Proactively react and respond to emergencies

Top 7 ICU nursing skills you need to possess

The ICU nurse is expected to possess a bunch of essential skills to become successful in the career. We have discussed some of the highly specialized skills here: 


This is a mandatory skill every ICU nurse should possess to easily connect and support the patients. When you are compassionate, you get to empathize with your patients easily, which leads to a faster healing process. 

Critical thinking

With critical thinking skills, you can make quicker and more sensible decisions about handling emergency situations and make better choices about your patients well being. 

Communication skills

Being an ICU nurse is all about communicating or discussing treatment plans and the next steps with the patient, colleagues, or families, and working along with your team of nurses or doctors. You may also be required to submit written reports or assessments about your patient’s condition on a regular basis, therefore this is a critical skill to possess. Along with it, master,

  • Non-verbal communication
  • Active listening
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Patient education skills
  • Presentation skills

Decision-making skills

Being an ICU nurse, you may have to make decisions several times when it comes to a patient’s recovery. It is important to note that in most cases the decisions made by ICU nurses are high-stakes and can have a direct negative impact if mishandled. Therefore, prioritizing patient care based on their specific needs and making informed decisions that correlate with the patient’s needs and conditions is crucial. 

Problem-solving skills

As an ICU nurse, this skill helps you better handle situations and offer effective solutions. You will need to acquire strong problem-solving techniques to provide resolutions for challenges that may arise during the stressful environment.

Take a note of these problem-solving skills;

  • Creativity
  • Research skills
  • Analysis
  • Team-building skills
  • Dependability
  • Active listening skills


It is necessary that as an ICU nurse you may have to be empathetic and passionate when dealing with patients. This even helps you feel more inclined to your job, thus improving job satisfaction and performance. 

Observational skills

This skill helps you to make conclusions based on observations. This judgment is essential as most patients in the ICU are too weak to speak due to injury or sickness.

Therefore nurses should be able to observe patient conditions and be aware of the aggravating conditions and differentiate between normal and abnormal. Without stopping there, you need to communicate your observations to the physician so necessary actions are implemented.

Assessment skills

This is an integral part of the ICU nurse’s job. The patient assessment is the foundation of executing the right patient treatment plans. You need to constantly assess and reassess ICU patients, monitor their condition, and note down their improvements and symptoms. Some of the types of assessments you should be aware of include:

  • Taking blood pressure
  • Measuring body temperature
  • Collecting specimens
  • Checking vital signs
  • Determining tissue viability
  • Assessing pain levels 
  • Identifying pain signals in patients who can’t communicate
  • Analyze patient response to treatment


An ICU nurse often works with the team and is never a sole player. You will mostly be put to work under the command of a surgeon or a chief doctor. Therefore your ability to work as a team matters the most to perform your duty well. Working well with your team makes way for betterment as your work will be appreciated by your heads. 

Better organization of things

You will definitely be a multitasker if you are an ICU nurse. Therefore the next important skill you need to possess is better organization skills, which you can put to effect when it comes to equipment, case histories, track communication, medical records, etc. Being chaotic may lead to dangerous disruptions in the healthcare field. 

Can you believe it? Medical errors are the third leading reason for death in the US, according to a study at Johns Hopkins.


As an ICU nurse, you need to possess tenacity or strong willpower to put up through tough situations when it comes to handling unexpected news about a routine procedure. Achieving this quality is essential, therefore the best ICU nurses some

How to improve ICU nursing skills?

Follow these simple ways to improve your current skillset further to hone your ICU nursing skills.

  • Get up-to-date with the technology
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Get a mentor
  • Opt for a class

As ICU nurses, there are several opportunities by which you can emphasize your ICU nursing skills. Highlighting them in your cv will boost your chances of becoming selected for your dream career. Meanwhile, if you wish for temporary ICU nurses job to develop your current skills, contact JP Medicals Recruitment now!

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