Current State of Critical Care Nursing Worldwide

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa; Anaesthesiology (East Africa)


Strengthening of professional nurses’ competencies targeted at their defined role is important for global critical care capacity. In high-resource settings, critical care nursing is a defined clinical specialty reflecting specific knowledge and clinical competencies. The roles of critical care nurses are clearly understood and generally care is provided in intensive care units. However, in low-resourced settings (low- to middle-income countries) roles and responsibilities of critical care nurses are not well defined.

Although in high-income countries critical care nurses frequently receive a formal orientation, including critical care consortium with intensive 1 to 3 months of lectures, didactic learning, and one-on-one preceptorship by a more experienced critical care nurse, ongoing professional development in low-resource settings are even fewer.

Absence of clear national guidelines on critical care nursing practice and a critical care nursing body that sets standards and core competencies to ensure proficiency-based licensure contributes to the limited in-service training and uncertainty about roles and responsibilities.

Lack of critical care guidelines, insufficient training, high workload, poor training, lack of knowledge, poor technology, limited resources, insufficient exposure to the critical care environment, and ongoing education are the largest barriers to proficient critical care, especially in low-resource settings.

Although in-service training, emotional regulations, effective communication, and international partnerships emerge as some of the facilitators of critical care nursing practice, there is a need for a holistic strategy to overcome the existing barriers and improve nursing care of the critically ill in low-resource settings.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Critical Care Clinics