How to Find Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurses

A guide to help you hire top Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses

How To Find Intensive Care Unit Nurses

October 5th, 2020

ICU nurses play crucial supportive roles in emergency response teams. Top ICU nurses can be found in medical specialist job boards as well as general job posting sites.

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How to Find an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurse:

1. Write the perfect ICU nurse job description.

Try to sell ICU nurses on your hospital or medical center and its ethos. What else can you offer them beyond the basics? Rewarding work? A close-knit work environment? Great health benefits? The best ICU nurses combine technical proficiency with compassion. If you want to attract the best ICU nurses, you have to go the extra mile. Nurses will often favor your hospital over others if you can provide the following:

  • A large roster of nurses to avoid long shifts and burnout.
  • Great incentives, including signing bonuses, retention bonuses, and benefits.
  • Good relationships between nursing staff and supervisors.
  • Mentoring programs.
  • Excellent facilities.

Use an ICU nurse job description template as your guide to creating the perfect job post.

2. Post your job to multiple sites.

Start by posting to general job posting sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor. These are great places to start because they get plenty of traffic and they're free.

You'll want to ensure your site is picked up by Google for Jobs too. Google for Jobs allows your posting to be seen in search results. This can greatly increase your job visibility. You can get it picked up by Google by having someone properly format it on your website, or by using a service that creates a properly formatted jobs page for you automatically.

Your next step is to target dedicated job boards for healthcare professionals. This will narrow your search to ICU nurses who might be a more suitable fit. Use a job posting site for nurses to advertise vacancies.

3. Screen your ICU nurse applicants.

People often overlook job requirements and apply anyway. Filter out the unqualified ones by sending out a short email that asks a few basic questions, such as:

  • How long have you worked as an ICU nurse?
  • What year did you get your ICU certification?
  • Are you available to work on weekends?

This way, they cannot ignore your questions. If you're worried that your applicants may not be responsive to an email, you may want to try delegating someone to make short phone calls to ask these questions.

Popular ICU certification for nurses come from the CCRN, TCRN, TNS, and TCAR associations. Search the database of the association where the applicant obtained their certificate for confirmation.

4. Conduct background checks.

Once you've narrowed your candidate pool, you'll need to conduct background checks to verify their employment history, application details, criminal record, and more. Read our guide to the best background checking services for new hires.

5. Conduct a phone interview.

In-person interviews take up a lot of time for everyone involved. You can schedule short phone interviews and quickly learn which candidates are the best to continue investing your time in. During these interviews, review the screening questions to see if their answers are consistent, check that their expectations for salary and benefits line up with yours, and find out why they no longer are at their previous job.

Example questions:

  • What brought you to the field of emergency care?
  • Why did you leave your last ICU nursing job?
  • What do you expect for salary and benefits?
  • What days are you available to work?
  • When would you be able to start?
  • What made you interested in this job?

Use this step as an opportunity to identify red flags. If they left their previous job because of issues that you know will be present at the position you're offering, for example, having to work weekends, the candidate won't be a good fit. Another red flag may be that they want a salary that's outside your range, or they cannot work during your business hours.

For candidates that meet your standards at this point, be sure to review the highlights of taking the job, and see if there are any other questions they have. Remember to keep selling the job, as they may be entertaining other offers.

Pay attention to why they're interested in the job, and reiterate particulars of it they're most attracted to.

6. Conduct an in-person interview.

At this point, you've got most of what you need to know if a candidate is the right fit for you. An in-person interview will give you insight into to how you'd work with them, whether they're reliable, and how they'll fit in with the rest of your staff.

More importantly, it's a chance to continue selling them the job. Introduce them to co-workers, show them around, review the reasons they want to take the job, and the benefits you offer. Have a look at our ICU nurse interview questions for useful questions to ask. Your questions should gauge their experience with different ICU procedures, including intubation and ventilators, sedative drips, paralytics, and more. You should also probe their attitude towards patient care, their organizational skills, their attention to detail, and more.

7. Make an offer.

You've taken the time to find the perfect candidate, so you'll want to make them an offer fairly quickly to take them off the job market before another company finds them. This is often best done in an informal call first, followed by a letter or email that provides the job description, salary and benefit information.


Is it difficult to hire ICU nurses?

Finding the right ICU nurse that combines the qualities of compassion and emergency procedural expertise can be tricky, but not impossible. Start your search on specialized job boards and filter out your candidate pool as you go.

What skills do ICU nurses need?

  • Resilience and ability to deal with trauma and difficult situations.
  • Good organizational skills.
  • Technical ICU skills, including proficiency with intubation and ventilators, sedative drips, paralytics, and more.
  • Empathy and compassion.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Clear, effective communication.
  • Availability for night shifts.
  • Ability to work under pressure.
  • Teamwork.