Several areas of nursing can be stressful enough to keep that adrenalin flow going. Most of those areas fall within some area of critical care. It can be in an Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Care or Neonatal Intensive care. Each has its own values and challenges. Not to be left out is the Emergency Department.
Intensive care nurses believe firmly that where there is life there is hope. Dealing with ventilators, crash carts and rapid decision making ability is vital to the successful fulfillment of your job. There are those that prefer to specialize beyond just “critical care” per se, and choose one of the specialties. Areas such as cardiac care are present in most acute care hospitals. If the institution is large, they can break it down to surgical, medical, neurological and pediatric intensive care units.
Neonatal intensive care requires special skills dealing with very small patients. Often the patient ratio is 1:1 due to the fact that these little ones can change their status in the blink of an eye. They require constant hands on care by a skilled professional.
Learning to deal with morbidity and mortality is very important in these areas. It is truly the place for empathy rather than a great amount of sympathy. Being too sympathetic will not benefit the nurse or the patient and their family. Understanding the feeling is more important than getting into the feeling.
The emergency room keeps you on your toes. You never know what will come through that door on foot or by ambulance. It could be a child with a tummy ache or someone involved in a head on collision. You have to be prepared for any possibility. Triage abilities are important in the emergency area. Deciding which of the patients needs to be treated expeditiously and which can wait a few minutes. All of this comes in to play.
Critical care is stressful. The emergency department is super stressful. There are some nurses who find working with dialysis beyond their desire for stress or perhaps pediatrics is not your forte. Stress levels depend on the areas of nursing that you feel comfortable working in.
Some critical care nurses will not work anywhere else. They enjoy the stress and the drama of these areas. There is constant updating on current treatment modalities and the challenges are always there. Just as each patient is an individual, so is each nurse. Finding the right niche is the key to a long time career and satisfaction with the profession.