HCA - Intensive Care

Discussion in 'Personal Statements and UCAS forms' started by msgb, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. msgb

    msgb New Member

    Jan 19, 2015
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    I'm about to start a job as a HCA in Intensive Care and PICU.

    Can anyone give me any advice about the role, and the ITU environment?

    Feeling very nervous.

    Thank you very much
  2. Teatowel

    Teatowel New Member

    May 8, 2014
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    HCAs are particularly important in ITU from my experience.

    As you might imagine, most patients are sedated and ventilated, and therefore require total patient care. Generally in the mornings every patient is washed, sheets changed, turned. These actions are carried out by the nurses looking after them (there is a 1:1 nurse:patient ratio) and you may be asked to help wash, and certainly to turn. These actions are important not only to uphold patient's dignity but to reduce incidence of infections and pressure damage. Throughout the day patients require regular turning, and washing as required. In addition to this as a HCA you will be expected to ensure stocks of bedside equipment is upheld and any empty bedspaces are cleaned ready for an incoming patient. Get to know where the hospital's blood bank is, you will, at some point, be making regular urgent trips to collect blood products for those unstable trauma or surgical patients.

    In terms of the general ICU environment, there is a lot to take in initially, and certain patients may be very unwell. However, more often patients are stable: there are no new or incoming admissions and hour-to-hour management is routine. Numerous ward rounds are conducted throughout the day, medics and surgeons from other teams come to see patients. Lines are being put in, patients are being woken up to assess neurology, some are being unsedated and extubated and being prepared for a step down in care.

    Of course, ICUs are notorious for the severity of injury and disease our patients have. The mortality rate is much higher than on normal wards. But then that is to be expected when life is maintained by machines, drugs and interventions. This is something you will get used to, and will set you up well for a career in medicine where death is another inevitable, necessary, part of life.

    Don't be nervous! Due to the high numbers of nurses, you will be well supported! There are a lot more doctors, and certainly more consultant support than on normal wards. ICU is on the pioneering end of medical development - treatments can be novel and on occasions, extreme. For these reasons, ICU is a great place to learn - don't be afraid to ask questions! Most of the doctors and nurses have excellent knowledge and will be keen to teach! There is less hierarchy (certainly in my ICU) than on normal wards, our consultants are known on a first name basis and there are less divisions between medical and nursing staff.

    This is from 4 months experience from a large, adult ICU in a major trauma centre teaching hospital. My PICU experience is very limited and might not apply. Feel free to ask me any specifics.

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