Intensive care specialist


Also known as:

  • Intensive Care Medicine Specialist
  • Intensivist

What they do

Intensive care specialists provide life support or organ support systems to patients who are critically ill and require intensive monitoring. Patients requiring intensive care are usually those who have hypertension/hypotension instability, airway or respiratory difficulties, acute renal failure, cardiac arrhythmias or multiple organ failure. Some patients enter intensive care for monitoring after major surgery.

Working conditions

Intensive care specialists have a high pressured job. Most specialists work regular hours; however, there is an on-call component and as such night and weekend work is expected.

Intensive care specialists usually work in hospitals and are often assisted by a staff of doctors, nurses and other personnel.

Tools and technologies

Intensive care is one of the most technologically advanced and resource-intensive areas of medical care. Common equipment used in an intensive care unit (ICU) includes:

  • mechanical ventilation to assist breathing
  • hemofiltration equipment for acute renal failure
  • monitoring equipment
  • intravenous lines
  • nasogastric tubes and
  • suction pumps, drains and catheters.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become an intensive care specialist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in intensive care.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To specialise in intensive care, doctors can apply to the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand (CICM) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as an intensive care specialist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.