In the ICU nurses do total patient care. The job is cerebral and physical... You get home some days (not everyday, but I want to let you know what you are in for) and your brain is fried and your body feels like you just worked 12 hours of construction. Techs/aides are a luxury for us (at least where I work). You will have patients that are stooling, vomiting, weeping thru their sheets, leaking strange fluids from random orifices, and requiring dressing changes that once exposed can be disturbing to say the least... It can be a messy job, but we do it and somehow get up the next day and do it all over again. It is a very rewarding job, but you need a tough stomach and a level head.
I made sure to shadow in the ICU before I accepted a position to be sure it was for me. I had many classmates that went into nursing solely to become a CRNA, but they had no clue what the ICU was like. Unfortunately, it ended up not being their cup of tea. The critical thinking component and workload were not what they expected. After shadowing, I saw it was a challenge and I was hooked. Once you get a couple of years in the ICU you should definitely shadow a CRNA. You will know if it is for you by then.
ICU nursing is no walk in the park, but when your past patients come back to the unit to visit you and let you know how much they appreciated your hard work and compassion, you know you have one of the best jobs in the world. As for working as a CRNA, I will let you know more when I am done in 2011. I know I will love it for all of the same reasons I love being an ICU nurse. :heartbeat