What Is a Typical Day Like in the PICU?

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05:30: My alarm goes off which is the absolute worst sound in the world.

07:00: I receive checkout from the pediatric resident or PA/NP who covered overnight, discussing how each patient did, changes made, and any new admissions.

07:00-0900: I “pre-round” which entails examining all of my patients, assessing their clinical status, looking at newly resulted lab values, reviewing imaging studies, and deciding on a treatment plan for the day.

09:00-13:00:  Bedside multidisciplinary rounds occur with the attending, PA/NP, nurse, respiratory therapist, dietitian, pharmacist, and consulting services if available.  Bedside rounds consists of the PA, NP, or resident presenting their patient in an organized fashion, discussing them by systems, and stating their plan for the day.

13:00: Lunch

14:00-19:00: I spend the rest of the afternoon continually checking on my patients, reevaluating my treatment plan, ordering additional labs or imaging studies if needed, transferring patients, admitting new patients, dictating, and having fun with coworkers.  The ICU can actually be a pretty fun environment to work in.

19:00: I sign out all important information about my patients to the night resident or PA/NP then head home!  HOORAY!


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I'm a Physician Assistant in Critical Care, vlogger, and travel addict providing you an inside look at 'Life as a PA'!


  1. I’m three rotations into clinical year, but I am strongly leaning in the direction of a pediatric elective rotation. I haven’t completed my pediatric rotation as it’s tentatively set for rotation 7 and my elective will be 8. My dilemma becomes what focus of pediatrics do I express an interest in? So far I have PICU, CT surgery and ER on my list. Can you provide any valuable insight into how you chose PICU for your career? Also, what recommendations do you have? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Dianne! What helped me narrow it down was that I don’t particularly love the OR so I knew CT surgery would be out. I also don’t particularly care for mundane complaints which sometimes happen in the ER and eventually convinced me to set my sights on critical care medicine. I hope that helps!

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