Tips for Interns to Survive Critical Care Rotation

The critical care and ICU rotation for residents and new interns can be stressful and challenging. If you ask your critical care lead, he/she would tell you how they were trying to glean from their peers who had completed their ICU rotation for tips and trick to survive and learn critical care medicine. Nobody said critical care is easy and often, what we are looking for is not what we need. Ventilator management and treating a trauma patient seem to be daunting. But, the real challenge is in learning how to survive both physically and mentally, the rigours of emergency care, ICU and thriving as a physician.

Here are a few tips:-

Start your day early

This is very easy to do in the first week in critical care as you are filled with all the energy and nervous as well. But, as the days pass you will be desperate for extra few minutes of sleep when you wake up. Unfortunately, a delay of five minutes can add up an extra hour at the end of your day.

So, start your day early. At early morning, you’ll have some free time to talk with overnight nurses and listen to their concerns. You could use that time wisely by listening to emergency medicine podcasts before rounds instead of just doing the role of the data collector. Critical care podcast can help you in many ways. You can hear the real experiences of doctors and patients. You will learn and grow as a physician.

Take time to process and integrate data

Often, there will be so much pressure to do something. You’ll be flooded with requests from therapists and nurses to do something about dropping oxygen levels, increasing heart rate or decreasing urine output. You will be tempted to respond and help the patients. Of course, it’s your job, and you should do. Order an x-ray, give the medicine, and push an IV beta-blocker. But, take time to process and integrate the data. Re-examine your patients and then help them. Don’t just substitute reflexive actions for your thoughtful deliberation.

Make the right decision

Make a thoughtful decision and take the right decision. What is going on? What do you want to do? How will you respond? Make a hypothesis and test it. The more decisions you make the more confidence and experience you will gain in developing your clinical judgement.

Attend all the conferences and listen to urgent care podcast

Never miss the conference and urgent care podcast. Listen and observe what they are saying. Remember, adopt it, and mould into your own words. Of course, it will never be easy, but listening to the real experience of the doctors and experience can give valuable insights about how to survive in urgent care rotation.

Share your troubles

See, everyone is nervous in critical care, even your attendings. They may look confident. But, behind that mask, there are fears, anxiety, and self-doubt. If you are having trouble, share your thoughts with your colleagues, and they may be feeling the same. Please don’t be silent as it is dangerous for you and the patient whom you are attending.

Critical care management is difficult. But, you will learn and gain experience over time. The more you learn, the better the experience. Critical care podcasts are an excellent way to thrive in your career.

The author hosts various Emergency Medicine Podcasts to give you the best education by sharing practical topics in critical care. Visit for more details.

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