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What to expect when working as an Intensivist in the NHS

  • August 26, 2020


Doctors working in intensive care medicine (ICM), commonly referred to as ‘Intensivists’, manage critically ill patients with, at risk of, or recovering from, potentially life-threatening failure of any of the body’s organ systems. As an international recruitment company, BDI Resourcing recommend that aspiring Intensivists, wanting to work in the NHS, take the EDIC route to their GMC Registration. – however if moving across from a Medicine background, MRCP is also accepted by many NHS Trusts.

What should I expect?

The role of ICM doctors is continuously changing under the impact of other changes in the system, such as the centralisation of specialist surgery, trauma, and emergency care.

A day as an Intensivist within the NHS is busy, challenging and rewarding. Typically it might start with a thorough handover of information about the patients from the ‘out-going’ team.  The rest of the day will be filled with the review and development of individual treatment plans, and multidisciplinary ward rounds of all patients. It is important to note that a large part of ICM involves effective communication with colleagues, patients, other specialists and relatives. Working as an Intensive Care Specialist in the NHS, you will typically have responsibility for between 8 and 25 patients at a time.

As an Intensive Care Doctor you will be commonly treating the effects of potentially lethal poisons, pneumonia, severe asthma, liver and renal failure, heart failure, respiratory failure, maternal complications, major surgery recovery and trauma including head injuries. With this in mind, your post will include assessment, monitoring and review of patients with or at risk of developing critical illness. Common procedures and interventions that you will be responsible for will include but are not limited to:

  • Use of inotropes and vasopressors
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Endotracheal intubation
  • Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy
  • Measurement of cardiac output
  • Haemodialysis and Haemofiltration
  • Transferring critically ill patients for specialist investigations and interventions

Can I specialize?

When training or working in Intensive Care Medicine within the NHS you will have the opportunity to develop a special skill or interest. These specific interests include but are not limited to:

  • Cardiac intensive care medicine
  • Echocardiography
  • Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Education
  • Home ventilation
  • Neuro intensive care medicine
  • Paediatric intensive care medicine
  • Pre-hospital emergency medicine (PHEM)
  • Quality improvement in healthcare
  • Transfer medicine

Where will I be working?

Staff can be based in intensive care units, specialty units (for neonatal, paediatric, cardiothoracic and neurological patients) and high dependency units. Consultants may also be involved in running ICM follow up clinics for patients discharged from hospital who are recovering from their stay on critical care.

Some intensivists are ‘dual trained’ in ICM along with one of ICM’s partner specialties. Common partner specialties include anaesthesia, acute internal medicine, emergency medicine, renal medicine and respiratory medicine. Those consultants who are ‘dual trainees’ often work in both specialties, organized by the individual Trust

Relocating to the UK

If you are an international Doctor interested in working in Intensive Care who would like to relocate to the UK , email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS post and on your relocation journey to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs to the group each day. We will also be on hand to answer all of your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 60 videos covering everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS.

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go with IMG Advisor the Podcast! You can listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.

Finally, we have just launched our new Instagram, so if you are a member, feel free to follow us to view our posts and IGTV: @bdiresourcing


Health Careers. 2020. Intensive Care Medicine. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 5 August 2020].

Health Careers. 2020. Working Life (ICM). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 5 August 2020]. 2020. Intensive Care Medicine Curriculum. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 5 August 2020].


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