Discover ICM

This resource contains all the key information and links you need to consider a career in the exciting specialty of Intensive Care Medicine.

Find out:

  • Why the specialty may be for you
  • Stories from those in training
  • How training is organised
  • How to enter the specialty

ICM specialists (intensivists) are involved in all aspects of care of the critically ill. Intensivists provide organ system support along with the investigation, diagnosis, treatment and management of acute illness.  As an intensivist you will have contact with patients from all specialties and work with a multitude of healthcare professionals throughout the hospital. ICM frequently provides outreach services, teaching and training in the management of critically unwell patients to other hospital departments. Intensivists frequently attend, assess, monitor and review deteriorating patients in the Emergency Department and other inpatient areas.

As an intensivist you will develop the ability to treat an extensive and diverse range of life-threatening conditions. Intensive care is not limited in the conditions which it accepts and this makes each day unique. It will combine diagnostic uncertainty and the intellectual challenge this brings with the ability to manage and support specific organ systems. In management of the critically unwell patient you will use;

  • Various medications such as inotropes, vasopressors and sedatives
  • Novel and developing equipment such as ventilators, renal replacement therapy and ultrasound
  • Practical skills like endotracheal intubation, chest drain insertion and central venous access
  • Various bedside assessment modalities such as echocardiography and chest ultrasound
  • Transfer skills including use of air and road transfer
  • Knowledge of patient safety, ethics and end-of-life care to support patients and their families.

When consultants and trainees were asked this question the most common reasons given were:

  • Acute nature of clinical cases
  • Practical skills
  • Variety of patients
  • Looks at the big picture
  • Instant results
  • Requires lateral thinking
  • Teamwork and multidisciplinary working
  • Role models
  • Research opportunities

How do I get started?

Find out how about ICM from career leads and from those who live and breathe it.  The following people will be able to give you advice about a career in ICM;

  • Intensive care consultants and trainees 
  • Faculty Tutors in ICM: Find your local FT - there will be one in your hospital
  • Regional Advisors: Find your local RA
  • Health Board/Trust and Deanery Careers Leads 
  • Foundation Programme Directors and Tutors

Ask as many people as you like, get their opinions, but explore yourself, and your likes and dislikes at work as well.

Remember, it's your career, and only you know what you want to do!

How do I get started? Training and Recruitment

If you would like to pursue a training career in ICM, find out about core training options here

If you are entering Foundation training, you may like to read our framework for trainers on how to provide good critical care education during the Foundation years here. 

Information on national recruitment to ICM at a specialist level (ST3+) can be found in the recruitment section of our website.

Making a career decision may be challenging, but it should not be difficult!

There are many resources available to help those making career decisions, and those guiding them in their choices.

Related documents and papers

Career Choice Presentations

Websites: is managed and maintained by Health Education England (HEE). The Health Careers website is the leading source of Labour Market Information (LMI) for all careers in the NHS, Medical careers and Public Health careers in the UK. The website hosts details on over 350 different roles and a wealth of career planning tools.

If you would like to find out more about the ICM in particular then please click the following link to go directly to the medical areas of the site:  

Recommended further reading - ROADs to success

ROADs to Success is a practical career-planning handbook for all postgraduate doctors.

Although published in 2010 the advice and career-planning exercises contained within Caroline Elton and Joan Reids ROADs publication are still relevant to day.  This is a practical approach to career management for Medical students, junior doctors and their supervisors. 

The FICM is grateful to the KSS Deanery and the authors for allowing us to use their resource.

Career Planning e-learning programme for core doctors

Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare has developed three bespoke e-learning courses to help core medicine, surgery and psychiatry doctors make informed career choices and effective applications for future career steps. These courses are the latest in a number of bespoke career planning courses developed for health professionals within the e-Learning for Healthcare career planning programme.

The courses will provide core medicine, surgery and psychiatry doctors with a deeper level of understanding of how to ensure future career planning is informed, realistic and robust.  They are based around the following five sessions:

  • Introduction which provides an overview to the course

  • Self-awareness which includes reflecting on values, work preferences, skills interests, personality and career stressors

  • Career exploration which includes consideration and research of career options available as well as developing effective networks

  • Arriving at your decision which focuses on decision making types and methods as well as how to check the robustness of career decisions

  • Next Steps which offers advice, information and examples on CV development, job applications and preparing for interviews as well as effective action planning

For each session, learners can compile a distinctive, thorough personal portfolio of research and reflections contained in a downloadable workbook, which can be used to support job applications and interviews.

The e-learning resource is available on the e-LfH Hub, the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) and via AICC links.

For more information about the programme visit: