ICU Nursing Resume Skills: Definition And Examples

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An intensive care unit (ICU) nurse provides life-saving services to their patients, and working in the ICU unit is often an overwhelming experience. For effectively handling stressful situations and treating critically ill and injured patients, these professionals require several hard and soft skills. Learning about the skills you require for treating ICU patients may help you complete your job duties and advance your career. In this article, we explain what ICU nursing resume skills are, list some essential skills to possess and provide steps to help you improve and highlight your skills as an ICU nurse.

What Are ICU Nursing Resume Skills?

ICU nursing resume skills are skills that you mention on your resume when applying for the position of an ICU nurse. These professionals work in the ICU department that provides 24-hour care to critically injured and ill patients. These skills help these professionals provide round-the-clock care to ensure patients remain stable and recover faster. The skills of ICU nurses can be hard skills which these professionals can learn through education and training and soft skills that are inherent.

Examples Of ICU Nursing Resume Skills?

Here are some common nursing skills important when working in the ICU department of a medical facility:

Communication skills

As an intermediary between a patient and nurse, an ICU nurse communicates and handles patients' concerns and well-being to ensure optimum care. Hospitals prefer hiring ICU nurses with strong verbal and written communication skills because they regularly interact with patients and family members. These professionals require written communication skills to maintain and keep patients' information and explain the condition to other nurses. Their written communication skills help them create comprehensive patient records. Also, they rely on their listening skills to learn about a patient's history and current condition.

Patient assessment

A part of an ICU nurse's job role involves assessing and monitoring the patient's condition to ensure their health progresses as expected. This might involve measuring their vital signs, providing medication on time and identifying other causes of concern, such as mood changes. Knowing how patients respond to medication and surgery is desirable for providing the best patient care. Upon noticing any unusual signs, an ICU nurse notifies a senior doctor.

Decision-making skills

An ICU nurse makes many decisions throughout the day and many of their decisions are critical for a patient's recovery. These nurses prioritise every patient's needs and make decisions that correlate with their medical conditions. Often, hospitals expect these nurses to make decisions in complex, challenging and uncertain conditions. Many decisions made by an ICU nurse are high-stakes and can negatively impact patient care.

Related: What Is Decision Making? Definition, Types And Tips

Problem-solving skills

ICU nurses often use problem-solving skills to manage their patient's pain levels and symptoms. This skill helps them better handle patients who require critical and intensive care. Problem-solving skills help provide direct patient care and make critical staff-related decisions. It helps them make quick and efficient decisions and provides viable solutions to challenges in a stressful environment. Thinking quickly, understanding the pros and cons and making informed decisions about their patient's life are desirable for a successful career.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Clinical skills

Often, an ICU nurse works with clinical tools like ventilators that you do not find in other hospital units. Knowing how to use these tools is important for providing effective and quality patient care. Hospitals expect an ICU nurse to perform arrhythmia analysis, sheath removal, ICP monitoring and cardioversion. They might even take care of patients with intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABP).

Empathy and sensitivity

As ICU nurses interact with patients experiencing severe medical conditions, they require empathy and sensitivity to show patients they understand their feelings. Being empathetic and sensitive helps these professionals establish a positive relationship that can aid in the patient's faster recovery. Your empathetic behaviour is useful when interacting with the patient's family members. You can highlight these skills by answering their questions, speaking formally and ensuring you understand what they tell you.


Ethics are moral principles that help guide the nurse's behaviour and decision making. Following a code of ethics helps these professionals provide the best care regardless of their situation and treat patients sincerely and respectably. Also, employers expect these professionals to ensure they do not share sensitive and crucial data with others without the patient's consent. The ability to make ethical decisions in a stressful environment and distinguish between nonethical and ethical conditions is desirable for this job role.

Related: Social Skills: Definition, Examples And Why They Are Important

How To Improve Your ICU Nursing Skills

Here are a few ways to improve your ICU nursing skills:

1. Enrol in a post-graduate nursing degree

Practising nurses need a bachelor's degree in nursing or relevant areas. You can develop your technical skills by enrolling in a post-graduate degree in nursing. Apart from helping you improve your skills, a master's degree can ensure career progress.

2. Search for a mentor

Search for a professional mentor and watch how they perform their work. Mentors are helpful in the nursing world because these professionals have extensive experience working in an ICU setting. You can seek their guidance to provide feedback on skills that require improvement.

3. Take a class

While you might have excellent skills required to be a nurse, you want to improve certain soft skills like communication. Consider taking a professional online course to improve your skill set. You can even complete certifications or attend workshops related to soft skills you plan to improve.

4. Practise your clinical skills

Volunteering and treating patients in real life can give practical experience working in a stressful environment. Consider volunteering with a medical charity programme or a government hospital to improve your clinical skills. When volunteering, focus on shadowing existing ICU nurses to understand how they spend their typical day.

5. Get familiar with the technology

An ICU nurse requires knowledge of various medical tools, programs and software. For instance, a mobile application can help nurses understand the dosage needed for a patient. Using technology, nurses can find information on a patient even before they meet them in person. Focus on getting familiar with the technology you are likely to use in your workplace.

ICU Nurse Skills In The Workplace

Here are a few ways of incorporating your nursing skills into the workplace:

  • Practise good communication. As an ICU nurse, you have several opportunities to communicate well. During your nursing hours, actively listen to others and communicate professionally to convey your information to the patients and doctors successfully.

  • Sign up for additional training. Getting enrolled in additional training can help you develop specific skills and enhance your confidence in using these skills. You can enrol in a training programme offered by your employer, community centre and local college.

  • Remain up-to-date with medical trends. As you work with critically ill and injured patients, staying up-to-date with the latest medical trends can help you learn new ways to provide the best patient care. Consider subscribing to a nursing journal and magazine to get weekly updates about the medical trends.

  • Perform clinical tasks effectively. Highlight your clinical proficiency by volunteering to perform clinical duties to provide optimum patient care.

  • Prioritise your responsibilities. As you work with critically ill patients, choosing patients who require immediate attention is essential. The ability to prioritise patients based on their conditions is essential for providing the best medical care to patients.

  • Use organisational systems. To ensure you complete all your work duties without overlooking your patients, keep track of your tasks. Focus on managing your time with a digital app or physical organisation system.

How To Highlight Your ICU Nurse Skills

As you apply for a new job, show your skills and abilities throughout the application process. Here are some ways you can highlight your ICU nurse abilities during the hiring process:

1. Highlight your skills on your resume

Before creating your resume, review the job description and include and show employers that you have the required skills to excel in the job role. You can include your nursing skills in different areas of your resume. Mention your skills in the summary section as keywords and explain how you used them when sharing your work responsibilities. You can even have a specific skill section in your resume to highlight your strongest skills.

2. Mention your skills in your cover letter

When highlighting your nursing skills in your cover letter, choose three to four most important skills. Provide specific examples of how you used them in your previous position. When you highlight how your skills helped provide patient care, employers are more likely to hire you. You can also share how your skills and career goals align with the company's values.

3. Discuss them during the job interview

During your job interview, take time to delve into each skill you possess related to your job. Focus on providing examples of how your skills helped you excel in your career and ensured the faster recovery of patients. Prepare for commonly asked interview questions to answer them with confidence.

Explore more articles