What Does a Critical Care Specialist Do?

Nick Mann
Nick Mann
A critical care specialist should be able to quickly and accurately assess emergency situations.
A critical care specialist should be able to quickly and accurately assess emergency situations.

A critical care specialist is a person who takes care of patients with serious medical complications that are life-threatening. This career requires an individual with extensive medical knowledge, a compassionate nature and excellent communication skills. In most cases, a master's degree in nursing or a related field is needed to obtain this type of position. Some primary job duties of a critical care specialist include assessing each patient's condition, monitoring patients, creating patient reports, supervising staff members and communicating with family members.

Critical care specialists work with trauma patients in a hospital's emergency room.
Critical care specialists work with trauma patients in a hospital's emergency room.

Assessing the patient's medical condition is usually the first thing a critical care specialist will do once the patient is checked in. Basically, it's the specialist's responsibility to quickly stabilize the patient, implement life-saving devices and make a diagnosis. He might perform some tests to determine what level of pain a patient is in and prescribe the appropriate medications. In addition, he might review previous records and contact a patient's normal physician to get a better idea of what treatments he should employ.

Once the patient has been stabilized, it's up to the critical care specialist to continually monitor him or her. This typically involves checking life support equipment, observing the patient's comfort level and looking for abnormalities. To be effective, it's important for an individual to build rapport with each patient and be knowledgeable on a variety of ailments. For smaller facilities, a specialist may primarily monitor patients himself. In larger facilities, he may have a team of staff members handle the bulk of this duty.

Along with monitoring, it's usually necessary to create patient reports. In these reports, a critical care specialist will make notes of things such as the patient's initial condition, diagnosis, treatments and medications used. Keeping accurate reports is necessary for documenting a patient's hospital visit and sharing the information with other physicians in the future. Generally speaking, these reports will be saved in a database.

In most cases, a critical care specialist is also responsible for supervising staff members. To ensure quality patient care, it's important for him to keep personnel on task and provide them with feedback. He may also be required to schedule staff members and lead meetings to address issues within a facility.

Additionally, this position often involves communicating with a patient's family members. For example, a critical care specialist might explain a patient's diagnosis and medical status. In the case of a patient's death, he will offer his condolences and assist with the postmortem process. Consequently, a critical care specialist should be able to empathize with others and communicate clearly, yet compassionately.

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    • A critical care specialist should be able to quickly and accurately assess emergency situations.
      By: Tyler Olson
      A critical care specialist should be able to quickly and accurately assess emergency situations.
    • Critical care specialists work with trauma patients in a hospital's emergency room.
      By: Tim Glass
      Critical care specialists work with trauma patients in a hospital's emergency room.