I knew early on in my medical career that I wanted to be a Critical Care Medicine specialist. I knew early on in my medical career that I wanted to spend my days and nights caring for people at their most vulnerable. And so, in my intern year during Residency, I couldn’t wait for my ICU rotation.
When the time finally came, I came to the ICU thinking I knew all that there was to know about Critical Care Medicine. I came to the ICU fully confident in my abilities to crush critical illness and save every patient I saw. I came to the ICU roaring like a lion…until I met the ICU nurses.
They whipped me into shape real, real quick. They showed me, in short order, what I didn’t know, and they showed me how to be properly behave in the ICU. I came to the ICU roaring like a lion…and the ICU nurses left me meowing like a kitten. And that experience taught me very early on to NEVER cross an ICU nurse.
The nurses in the ICU are among the best nurses around. They are highly skilled, highly educated, highly motivated to do what is right for the patient, and they do not back down easily. They will keep fighting for the patient with all their might, all their passion, and all their soul. I am not saying that other nurses do not do this. I am saying that ICU nurses do this par excellence.
I was witness to their selfless care during the COVID-19 pandemic. They spent hours at the bedside of countless very, very sick people with COVID-19. They gave them everything they had, and if the patient was not going to make it, they made absolutely sure the patient did not die alone, holding their hand in the room while the family was mourning on an iPad or cell phone.
They are such an important component of the care of the patient in the ICU. I was – and continue to be – in awe of their excellent patient care, and I am grateful to be their partner in the ICU.
As I said before, when I first came to the ICU, they whipped me into shape real, real quick. I learned to NEVER cross an ICU nurse, and their tough love made me a much better critical care doctor. I am forever better because of those ICU nurses with whom I worked my very first month in the ICU as a doctor. And to them – along with every other ICU nurse – I am forever grateful.