Career OverviewCritical care physicians focus on the treatment of patients in critical or life-threatening illnesses or injuries.
They deal specifically with human responses to life-threatening problems and they work in intensive care units, in pediatric intensive care units, in neonatal intensive care units, in cardiac care units, in cardiac catheter labs, in telemetry units, in progressive care units, in emergency departments, and in recovery rooms. They work wherever there are patients in critical conditions.
A general critical care physician is responsible for identifying, intervening in, and managing clinical problems to improve care for patients in critical conditions. Increasingly, they are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, planning, and prescribing treatments to critical patients.
One of the major problems affecting the job outlook for critical care physicians, according to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) is the lack of physicians practicing in the field with a background in emergency medicine.
It is expected that the field will change to meet the demand for critical care physicians in hospitals across the United States. The ABIM and the ABEM both anticipate and are trying to encourage more graduates to take rotations in emergency medicine to transfer the experiences and the specialist skills set to critical care medicine.
Career RequirementsCritical care physicians must fulfil the education and experience requirements established by federal and state government to practice medicine in the general medical fined of anaesthesiology.
For entry into any education program to become a critical care physician, a doctor of education degree or a doctor of osteopathy degree is required from an approved school of medicine or osteopathy. It is also mandatory that candidates complete at least four year of graduate medical education in anaesthesiology and critical care medicine.
Job OutlookCritical care medicine is a highly specialized field, however, there are ample opportunities for qualified physicians to work in hospitals and long-term care facilities to treat the critically ill.
Whilst opportunities to practice medicine in this type of capacity are likely to remain stable, the field of critical care medicine may expand as more sophisticated technologies and treatments plans are developed and as more patients, particularly elderly patients, develop conditions that are considered critical or life-threatening.
The job outlook for critical care physicians is extremely promising at present but there is a definite preference for graduates to have experience in emergency medicine.
Having said this, critical care medicine offers qualified medical doctors the opportunity to deal directly with patients, act as policy makers, consultants, and researchers in the treatment of patients with a range of chronic and acute conditions that are life-threatening, such as heart attacks or serious infections.
The field looks set to remain particularly lucrative, dynamic, and open to qualified and enthusiastic graduates of medical schools and in particular those who are prepared to work in emergency medicine as part of their training for a career in critical care.
Career TrackDepending on their qualifications and experience, critical care physicians may practice general medicine as it pertains to patients who are considered to have life-threatening illnesses or injuries. They may specialize in anesthesiology, applying sophisticated knowledge of anesthesia to facilitate patient care, or they may accept positions as administrators, policy-makers, consultants, or counselors, establishing practices and protocol for health promotion amongst critical care patients.
A career track for a critical care physician may include a career in a general hospital intensive care department or with a specialist unit that is involved with the critical ill.
Most critical care physicians are employed to be part of hospital staff, practicing medicine in intensive care and critical care units. They may have extensive knowledge of anesthesiology and be trained as anesthesiologists. Otherwise, they may enter the field of critical care via emergency medicine. Both career tracks produce highly trained and competent critical care physicians.
CompensationThe average reported salary for a typical critical care physician in the United States is approximately $221,011 per year. Depending upon their qualifications and experience, most critical care physicians in the United States earn between $175,000 and $250,000 per year.