Intensive Care Specialist

Community and Health

 

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An intensive care specialist is a medical specialist trained and assessed to be proficient in the comprehensive clinical management of critically ill patients as the leader of a multidisciplinary team. Intensive care specialists provide life support or organ support systems to patients who are critically ill and require intensive monitoring. Patients requiring intensive care are usually those who have hypertension/hypotension instability, airway or respiratory difficulties, acute renal failure, cardiac arrhythmias or multiple organ failure. Some patients enter intensive care for monitoring after major surgery.  FutureGrowthModerate

ANZSCO: 253317

Alternative names: Intensive Care Physician; Intensive Care Medicine Specialist; Intensivist

Knowledge, skills and attributes

The intensive care specialist has clinical skills that include the ability to recognise and manage the disturbances associated with severe medical, surgical, obstetric and paediatric illness and to diagnose and treat the conditions that cause them. This usually involves invasive and non-invasive diagnostic techniques, monitoring, and treatment modalities designed to support vital organs.

The intensive care specialist is also an expert in end of life care, the diagnosis of brain death, and care and support of the organ donor.

Intensive care specialists are also frequently involved in the management of deteriorating and seriously ill patients outside the intensive care unit as well as the transport and retrieval of critically ill patients.

To facilitate his or her practice the intensive care specialist has advanced communication skills that enable appropriate and effective interaction with patients, families, other team members and referring clinicians, and that enable collaborative, multidisciplinary practice.

The intensive care specialist continues to learn throughout professional life and acknowledges that involvement in teaching, research, quality improvement and administration are integral to the role.

Intensive Care Specialist
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Duties and Tasks

  • Examines patients to determine the nature and extent of problems after referral from general medical practitioners and other medical specialists, and undertakes laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures.
  • Analyses test results and other medical information to make diagnoses.
  • Prescribes and administers drugs, as well as remedial and therapeutic treatment and procedures.
  • Records medical information and data.
  • Reports specified contagious and notifiable diseases to government health and immigration authorities.
  • May admit or refer patients to hospitals.
  • May consult other medical specialists.

Working conditions

Intensive care specialists have a high pressured job. Most specialists work regular hours; however, there is an on-call component and as such night and weekend work is expected. Intensive care specialists usually work in hospitals and are often assisted by a staff of doctors, nurses and other personnel.


Tools and technologies

Intensive care is one of the most technologically advanced and resource-intensive areas of medical care. Common equipment used in an intensive care unit (ICU) includes:

  • mechanical ventilation to assist breathing
  • hemofiltration equipment for acute renal failure
  • monitoring equipment
  • intravenous lines
  • nasogastric tubes
  • suction pumps, drains and catheters.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an intensive care specialist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in intensive care. To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

To specialise in intensive care, doctors can apply to the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand (CICM) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship. To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency). To work as an intensive care specialist in Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.


Did You Know?

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Material sourced from
ACACIA [Intensive Care Specialist;]
Jobs & Skills WA [
Intensive Care Specialist; ]
College of Intensive Care Medician [What is ICS]
JobOutlook [
Intensive Care Specialist; ]




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