STICU vs CMICU vs ICU

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i am wondering the difference between these three specialties:

  • Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU)

  • Continuing Medical Intensive Care Unit (CMICU)
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

i would like to know what kind of patients you would get in a typical day and what education you need after getting an RN and BSN?

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.
i am wondering the difference between these three specialties:

  • Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU)
  • Continuing Medical Intensive Care Unit (CMICU)
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

i would like to know what kind of patients you would get in a typical day and what education you need after getting an RN and BSN?

In short, it depends upon the facility. "ICU" is a catchall phrase, and it can mean anything from a 40 bed unit that gets ANY patient requiring vital signs more than hourly (or whatever criterion they use in that facility) whether they be cardiac, neuro, pediatric or whatever. Or it can mean a highly specialized unit in a large teaching hospital with a dozen different ICUs.

Continuing Medical Intensive Care Unit is probably the unit that gets the MICU patients who are less acute but obliged to stay in ICU because of ventilators, chronic dialysis, CVVHD or frequent antibiotics.

I've seen STICU named "TLC" (Trauma Life Center), TICU (which can also mean Transplant ICU as I found out on this forum a month or so ago), or just "SICU". The SICU at Johns Hopkins gets mostly the victims of stabbings and gunshot wounds (because cardiac surgery, neuro surgery, pediatric surgery, cancer surgery, etc. have their own ICUs) while the SICU at the UW gets any intensive care patient with a surgical incision.

I've seen CCUs that were only for coronary care patients who hadn't had surgery -- they went to SICU afterward. And I've seen CCUs that were for any patient requiring intensive care who had not had surgery. I've also seen CCUs that took any heart patient -- before or after surgery -- and everyone else went to the SICU.

The only way you're going to know for sure is to ASK. If you're considering working in any of those units, make sure you understand what the patient population is likely to be. As far as education -- you'll get an orientation specific to the unit. That will probably include modules to complete, lectures to attend and some homework about the specific patient populations they see regularly.