what is your ICU like in terms of nursing attitudes/culture


Specializes in Med/surg, ICU.


I was talking with a veteran surgical floor nurse about the differences in work environment, culture and general attitudes of nurses between ICU and med/surg floors. At our facility, we have 3 ICUs that seem to have pretty different cultures. The SICU seems to have more nurses with elitist attitudes than the MICU. We have staff that are very respectful and grounded and some who are not. Sometimes ICU staff refer to themselves as more special than other nurses such as floor or Teley nurses. Although each individual nurse is unique of course, we have a grouping of nurses that are a little arrogant and disconnected from other types of nursing and they tend to call themselves "special". I have heard out-right demeaning comments about med/surg & MICU nurses while in the same breath referring to themselves in god-like fashion. We also have a group of staff who are more realistic and connected with nurses in other departments. They talk about med/surg nurses with respect and appreciation. Sometimes, other ICU nurses make snap decisions about who makes a "good" ICU nurse and they do not seem to have a good track record in accuracy. What makes them think they do know who would make a "good" ICU nurse?

My question to you is, what is it like in your ICU? How would you describe the general culture? Are the nurses mostly down-to-earth, arrogant, elitist? Do they appreciate other types of nursing? Personalities; what types of people show up in your unit? Can you even draw a generalization? My friend talked about ICU nurses being more aggressive in general. Some of my friends who work in med/surg seem less assertive and avoid things such as being charge nurse. I can be aggressive (or assertive if you prefer that term) especially when I'm assigned charge nurse. But I have a distaste for any elitist behavior.

Thanks for your thoughts.

NickiLaughs, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care. Has 13 years experience. 2,380 Posts

THe last one I worked at there were some very arrogant nurses, and some very awesome ones that were willing to teach and help others. I think that's going to happen everywhere. My current job I would say 95% of the staff are awesome, and there's honestly only 1 or 2 people I can think of who maybe should realize they are no better than anyone else. :)


559 Posts

I work in a great STICU. I consider myself very lucky to be working there. I started off nursing working on a med-surg unit, and then transferred to the ICU. I've even crossed trained in the ER, but I really didn't like it. I didn't like being a med-surg nurse either. I often left work feeling unfulfilled. Transferring to the ICU has been a great thing. I feel satisfied with my job, and the MDs treat me better than when I was a floor nurse. The culture at times can become negative, and i think that is due to the fact that RNs in ICUs tend to have been there for many years, while on the floor units turnover is a lot higher. So, we spend a lot of time with each other. Some nurses I work with have been on that unit for 20+ years. But, at the end of the day, I really do enjoy the people I work with. A lot of joking and laughing tends to make work a lot more enjoyable.

pedicurn, LPN, RN

Specializes in CVICU, Obs/Gyn, Derm, NICU. 696 Posts

In the ICU's and ED's I've worked in - there seemed to be a solid minority of experienced staff nurses who possessed a 'nursing is a trade' orientation. These ones tend to believe that they have had a nurse 'training' and all subsequent nurse education and professional development is solely on-the-job.

Throw in some unsavory social behaviour .... and a certain culture evolves.

These ones can be the backbone of unit staffing. I love certain aspects of their culture but loathe certain other parts.....