Becoming a nurse can be challenging on so many grounds. Starting from the complex curriculum to tough exams and practicals knowledge, like a doctor, becoming a nurse is an arduous job. After becoming a nurse comes the question of specializing in a particular field. There are many specialties to choose from, such as pediatrics, orthopedic, medical, Emergency, ICU nurses, etc. In this article, we will discuss the differences between an ER nurse and an ICU nurse. Working in both ER and ICU, nurses need special skills of endurance, strength to undergo high-stress conditions, depth, breadth of expertise, and critical thinking.
Regardless of what type of nurse you want to become, nurses play a vital role in our healthcare systems. To decide if you wish to become an ER nurse or an ICU nurse, you must know the prominent differences between both. Here are the ten key differences:
- Different Department
As the name suggests, the Intensive care unit (ICU) is that part of the hospital where patients with critical illnesses and acute conditions are present. The nurses attending such patients must possess the qualities and abilities required to treat them efficiently.
ER stands for Emergency Room. Patients with injuries, trauma, severe health conditions that require immediate treatment and intervention come to the emergency department. Nurses present in this department should be capable of dealing with such patients.
- Different Environment
ER is the main entry point of the hospital. It is present at the very beginning to make it convenient for patients to rush for immediate care. A large number of patients come to the ER with their problems to get quick treatments and relief. So there is a chaotic situation and environment in the ER. The nurses working in ER are competent to withstand chaos and tension. To develop extraordinary skills as a leader or a mentor, nurses can opt for an online RN to BSN program. Nurses can avail themselves the opportunity to become a Bachelor of Science in nursing smoothly because this program is amazingly flexible to match their needs and routine.
ICU, on the other hand, has a separate floor to keep patients with serious illnesses. Patients with life-threatening and distressing diseases need quiet and calm environments to prevent them from unnecessary stress. The nurses working in ICUs should be highly skilled and professional. There is an organized type of chaos in the ICUs where nurses know the protocols of life support and care.
- Different Tasks
An ER nurse deals with gunshot injuries, road accidents, fractured bones, heart attacks, and strokes, and much more. They know how to prioritize patients based on the need and severity of their conditions that require exceptional and excellent assessment and observation skills. They may take severe life support measures or start administering heavy blood volumes to severely bleeding patients.
An ICU nurse is responsible for maintaining patients’ health and life on life support mechanisms like ventilators or have very slim chances of living. They are either on intubations or life-prolonging medication drips. They must have masterly skills in identifying degradation signs and act swiftly to reverse or restore them. They are highly involved with their patients and pay close attention to them. The intensive care unit team of doctors and nurses strive together for their patients’ well-being. ICUs are highly structured and organized with proper regulations of treatment modalities.
- Different Workstyle
ER nurses like to work in high-stress environments because their job demands are such. They have an outstanding emotional grip over themselves to overcome the chaotic atmosphere. It is impossible to stress out an ER nurse. They rely upon and prefer to work in a team to treat patients efficiently. ER has the maximum flow of patients in any hospital facility; these nurses walk around like warriors to save their patients’ lives.
ICU nurses have a different workstyle. They have planned tasks and work schedules that they like to follow without any interruptions. They work independently with their patients, but they can also work in a team in need. They are qualified to complete their tasks without any help or support. A doctor can rely on the ICUs nurse confidently. Since there is no heavy flow of patients in the ICUs unless there is any accidental or disastrous condition, they work in peaceful and less-strained environments. They can pay more attention to their patients and perform in the best manner.
- Different workflow
An ER nurse deals with a fast workflow as the patients come to emergency leave as soon as they receive immediate care and treatment. Their job is very fast-paced, and they have no time to waste. So, nurses don’t have to maintain long working hours with different patients.
An ICU nurse remains with their patients until they recover entirely and go back to their homes. When patients show signs of recovery, they transfer the patients to other wards and discharge them from the ICUs. So, their job nature is slow-paced.
- Different emotional connections
An ER nurse develops a different level of emotional connection, which is usually relatively short-lived. They tend to remain practical more than emotional because of their job title and requirement.
An ICU nurse has a deep connection with their patients because they deal with them for a longer time. Slowly, they start to have feelings of affection and care for them. They interact with them regularly, so they develop a friendship over time. So, when their patients leave, they usually start to miss them. In instances where their patients die of their illnesses, they become depressed and sad to a great extent.
- Different routines and medical ties
An ER nurse has a stressed routine because of her job status. As long as she is in the emergency department, she is on her toes. In contrast, an ICU nurse spends a relaxed day because she has an organized schedule and list of tasks to follow.
An ER nurse sits with a duty or medical doctor. She hardly interacts with a specialist doctor. An ICU nurse interacts with specialists and experts. Since specialists treat all the patients in the ICU so, nurses are directly involved with them.
- Different salaries and goals
Although there is not much of a difference in their salaries, ER nurses get more wages than ICU nurses in most healthcare systems and facilities.
ER nurses focus on treating patients on a first-come, first-serve basis; their priorities are different. They treat and stabilize patients before taking on a new patient. An ICU nurse, in contrast, works critically and precisely on one patient at a time. Their goal is to deliver detailed care and treatment to the patient.
The next time you think about choosing an ER or ICU nurse, you have a whole set of reasons to choose from depending upon your personality and work ethics. You can consider many reasons, from career prospects to your interests, and choose whichever nurse you want to become.