Dr Gourishankar Reddy, Head of Medical ICU and COVID ICU, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital highlights that critical care medicine or intensive care medicine is that field of medicine which deals with life and death situations. It can be compared to a battlefield. Doctors, nursing staff and other health care workers working in Intensive Care Unit (ICUs) must possess the following qualities to contribute to better patient care and outcome.
Passion: Taking care of the sickest people in the hospital in ICUs is very stressful job. Unless you are driven by the passion of holding hands of people in their worst time, you cannot bear the immense pressure situations you face in the ICUs. Passion is single most important quality that will decide whether you will continue in critical care medicine. Save the passion to be a savior sails!!
Compassion: To understand the pain and emotional turmoil the patient is undergoing is very important. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches! So, unless we know the intensity of the patients’ suffering, we won’t be able to match the care they need. The holistic approach of medical care, emotional support, psychological counseling will lead to positive outcomes. Treat the disease and comfort the patient!
Continuous learning and attitude to up skill: Like all others areas, critical care medicine is ever growing and is flooded with new knowledge. Both doctors and nurses need to keep up with the pace. Learning never ends in the field of medicine, so is the case with critical care medicine. ICU always has multidisciplinary interactions. So knowing about all disciplines becomes mandatory. Learning keeps you alive!
Critical observation: One quality that ensures good outcome is that of critical observation. If we identify the possible complications before they occur, the patients will have in time interventions and smoother recovery. Though the quality of critical observation develops over a period of experience, to have an eye on things and to find out mishaps, it needs curiosity and patience backed up by profound knowledge. Prevention is better than cure. No Doubt!!
Being a team: Intensive care is all about teamwork. Single individual can do his/her best during their shift, but if that same care is not continued, the CHAIN OF CARE may break. So each member should be a team player and ready to take up roles as per the need. Good teams develop over a period of time. None of us can achieve as much as all of us can. Keep building a team!
Servant leadership quality: In ICU there is always high adrenaline rush going on. The leader needs to manage everything with composed nature and also be able to lead by example. During COVID pandemic, when it was scary to go inside ICU, many doctors and nursing in-charges were first one to don the PPE kit. You always lead the army from front not push from behind!!
Effective communicator: There have been many occasions where we have lost our patients and yet the relatives come to thank us for whatever we did. In fact they sometimes fell to our feet in spite of losing their kith and kin. This marks the highest trust and most transparent communication any doctor patient can have. This one quality can reduce major amount of aggression, mistrust and the violence against doctors and nurses. Never avoid talking to relatives or patients. Medicines may work but message (communications) makes wonders!
Physical, mental and emotional strength: Odd working hours without proper sleep and meal is part & parcel of the intensive care physicians and nurses. The consequential burnout can break anyone. Hence it is essential to maintain a healthy life style to a feasible extent. Good physical, mental and emotional strength building happens from a disciplined routine. Thus, self care is a must have quality for ICU doctors and nurses. Help self to help others!!
Ability to multitask: In ICU multitasking is a mandatory virtue. Simultaneously handling many sick patients in middle of the night is not an uncommon scenario. COVID-19 pandemic has taught us more about this quality not just in terms of physically managing the patients but also about ways and means to device lot of techniques and instruments to help us manage multiple tasks at once. Eveready for anything!!
Ability to evaluate ever changing situations and quick decision making: In ICU patients deteriorate suddenly. We need to find the cause quickly and institute appropriate therapy. While dealing with life and death situations it is always just a matter of few seconds. Swift and secure is the way to cure!!
Tenacity: Mettle is at test when there is high drama going on around in the ICU. To be able to manage yourself and your team apart from patients and their relatives takes a great deal of courage and steadiness. Courage is grace under pressure!
Never give up attitude: We always feel that we are on a mission impossible! Because every patient is critical and the task to save and rehabilitate them seems a marathon. Nevertheless, the concept of difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations holds good here too. Once you taste that happiness of pulling someone from jaws of death, you find it all thrilling. Fight till the last breath!!