ICU nurses have had a particularly tough time the past few years, and we are so appreciative of our ICU nurses who work tirelessly to provide specialized care to patients who have life-threatening illnesses or conditions. We recently spoke with two of our caregivers to find out firsthand what makes a job in the ICU rewarding, and why they choose to work at Providence Swedish.
A unique and rewarding workplace
Jessica Danford, who has worked as a Providence Swedish Medical/Surgical ICU RN for seven years, loves the challenge of ICU nursing. She says, “I love that you really have to use your brain. It’s literally looking at the whole clinical picture and working closely with different disciplines.” Nurse Manager Sheila Bleakney echoes this sentiment. “I have seen so much in my 40 years. Every time I think I’ve seen it all something else happens.”
Beyond being a challenging place to work in a good way, caregivers say that the ICU is a workplace that inspires a deep commitment to care. “I think I can speak for all the nurses on my unit that we care very deeply for the outcomes of our patients,” Jessica says. “If we can guide a family toward comfort care when we know that patient needs it, that is success to us. And if we can fight against them dying, and they get to go home a couple days after that, I mean, that’s pretty amazing. And that makes me happy when I go home for sure.
A committed and supportive community
The ICU nurses at Providence Swedish take pride in the culture they’ve built. “We work together,” says Jessica, “and we don’t abandon each other.” She says everyone in her unit has bought into a supportive culture. “If we can create a really welcoming and supportive environment for our new hires and our new nurses, then not only will we have good patient outcomes, but we also create a unit where people want to show up to work.”
As a manager, Sheila has seen how a workplace needs to function from the top down. “You have to be all in. If we want people to stay, they have to know that their manager’s got their back. And we do.”
One of the ways that Jessica’s unit supports one another is through a skills fair. It’s “a day where we have different stations, and we have people teaching each other. So, staff teaching staff. The more experienced nurses can give back to the newer nurses. And then it also gives educational opportunities for nurses who haven’t been there as long to teach something, and so they feel driven to learn it really well, so that they can teach it well.”
Jessica has seen the benefits of programs like this with staff retention. “We have many more experienced nurses who’ve been there for like ten years, not just like the one year to two years and then they leave and go somewhere else.” She adds, “We’ve had travelers sign on as full-time staff because they just really like it there.”
One piece of advice for future ICU nurses at Providence Swedish
“Have fun and recognize the importance of teamwork,” Sheila says. Jessica agrees with the importance of working together. “One of my biggest pieces of advice is to ask questions.” She tells her fellow nurses that “they won’t be alone. They’ll never be in a situation alone,” and encourages them to speak up. “What do you need? Tell me what you need. I’ll do it. And we’re all like that. That’s our culture.”
If you’d like to work in a supportive and rewarding workplace, view all nursing roles.