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Nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit are certified in BLS (Basic Life Support, at the Provider Level) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). It is also possible and recommended that nurses be certified as CCRNs (Critical Care Registered Nurses). Nurses on this unit of the hospital must quickly analyze their patient's status and act as strong advocates for their patient. Nurses rely on monitor readings as well as nursing assessments to give the best care for their patient. Patients in the ICU are critically ill, whether the result of trauma or illness. Patients may be on ventilators if they are at great risk for respiratory compromise. Nurses may act as counselors to the patient's family when faced with difficult medical decisions and end of life issues such as organ donation. The ability to sensitively counsel patients and their families is an important skill for nurses in the ICU.

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