Intensive Care Medicine (ICM) is a specialty dedicated to the care of critically ill patients with life-threatening conditions. It involves continuous monitoring and support for organ systems, including advanced respiratory support, cardiovascular support, and complex pain management.

Intensivists must make rapid, life-saving decisions and are skilled in a range of invasive procedures.

Training in ICM can be standalone or combined with another specialty like anaesthesia or respiratory medicine.

ICM specialists work primarily in intensive care units, and their role extends to liaising with other specialties for comprehensive patient care. The specialty demands emotional resilience and the ability to work under extreme pressure. Career prospects in ICM are diverse, with opportunities in clinical practice, research, and teaching.

Key aspects

  • Critical illness - intensive care is typically reserved for patients who are critically ill and require close monitoring, specialised medical interventions, and advanced life support.
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) - Intensive care is often delivered in dedicated hospital units called Intensive Care Units (ICUs) or Critical Care Units. These units are equipped with advanced medical technology and a highly skilled healthcare team trained to manage complex medical conditions.
  • Multidisciplinary team - the care of critically ill patients in the ICU involves a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. This team may include intensivists, critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, and other specialists as needed.
  • Monitoring and life support - intensive care often involves continuous monitoring of vital signs, organ function, and other physiological parameters. Patients in the ICU may require advanced life support measures, including mechanical ventilation, haemodynamic support, and organ support therapies.
  • Advanced procedures - intensive care physicians are trained to perform and supervise various advanced medical procedures, such as central line placements, intubation, and invasive monitoring. These procedures are essential for the diagnosis and treatment of critically ill patients.
  • Postoperative care - intensive care is often involved in the postoperative care of patients who have undergone major surgeries, especially those with a high risk of complications.
  • Communication and family support - intensive care physicians work closely with patients' families, providing information, support, and addressing concerns. Effective communication is a crucial aspect of providing holistic care to critically ill patients and their loved ones.

Training in Intensive Care Medicine

Intensive Care Medicine specialties are not currently advertised on this site, but they are also recruiting. You will find their details below.

Intensive Care Medicine

Page last reviewed: 22 May 2024
Next review due: 22 May 2025