The global healthcare system is in the midst of a major humanresources crisis (Conseil International des InfirmiÃ¨res, 2004), partly, it seems, because of the difficult working conditions in the field. Quebec too has been affected by the shortage of staff, particularly in the area of critical care where the problem is more concentrated because of the high nurse-patient ratio. Quebec nurses used to regard intensive care units (ICU) highly, but now the large number of vacancies and the general lack of nurses there suggest that ICUs have lost much of their lustre. The situation is very worrying, for 50% of the nurses who practise in critical care have less than 5 yearsâ experience nursing in ICU is becoming ever more complex and more intense, and nurses cannot quickly acquire the specific skills they need to practise in ICU without the support of experienced peers. The aim of this article is to document current knowledge about the phenomenon of the declining popularity of ICUs among nurses. The theoretical framework of the psychodynamics of work (PDW) provides the backdrop for our analysis of the literature. Suggestions are made for courses of thought and action that could improve working conditions in ICUs and thus both halt the exodus of experienced nurses to other areas of practice and boost recruitment of new nurses.
Last date updated on July, 2014