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Mastering Intensive Care

May 10, 2018

This week is International Nurses Week culminating in International Nurses Day on Saturday May 12th, the date on which Florence Nightingale was born. To celebrate this, my special guest this week is an intensive care nurse, Claire Davies.

Claire is my wife. To me, she is intelligent, caring, kind and compassionate, as both a nurse and a person. So after struggling for a while with the choice of who I should have as my first nurse guest on the podcast, it gradually became obvious that it should be Claire.

Claire began as an intensive care nurse back in 1999 as a Critical Care Course student at the Alfred Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Melbourne. After rising to become an Associate Nurse Unit Manager there a few years later, Claire took time off to rear our 2 beautiful daughters before reestablishing herself as a Critical Care Liaison Nurse at the Epworth Hospital, also in Melbourne.

Whilst Claire is definitely an excellent nurse, with a keen focus on developing healthy and valuable nurse-doctor relationships which place the patient’s needs above anything else, she is also the long-suffering partner of an intensivist, me. This gives Claire the perfect perspective to talk about being an intensivist’s partner, something we do towards the end of this conversation. We also talk about:

  • Her career journey
  • What is it like being an intensive care nurse
  • The dynamic and challenging environment of an ICU
  • The characteristics of good intensive care doctors
  • An instance where she confronted an intensivist about how she felt intimidated by him
  • The aim to bring everything back to being about the patient
  • Communication between ICU doctors and nurses
  • How nurses are good at pattern recognition
  • How important decisiveness is
  • Respecting and not unfairly judging prior clinical decisions
  • Drug and other types of errors
  • An interesting tale of one of her patients falling out of bed
  • How Claire felt in the period afterwards and how she dealt with it
  • Communicating in family meetings, including the use of silence
  • Prioritising rest to bring her best self to work
  • Some other wellness habits including eating well, exercise and yoga
  • Seeing the drinking of water as an important goal during a shift
  • The “funny jokes” intensivists often tell on their ward rounds
  • Her thoughts to help intensivists be more connected to their partners and families
  • Her interest in a more focused acknowledgement of death in the ICU when it happens

My genuine hope with this podcast is to inspire and empower you to bring your best self to work and to consider adopting some of the habits and behaviours my guests give their perspectives on, with the ultimate purpose of improving outcomes for all of our patients. Please help me to spread the message by simply emailing your colleagues, posting on social media or subscribing, rating and reviewing the podcast.

Feel free to leave a comment on the Facebook “mastering intensive care” page, on the LITFL episode page, on twitter using #masteringintensivecare, or by sending me an email at

Thanks for listening on the journey towards mastering intensive care.

Andrew Davies



Show notes (people, organisations, resources or links mentioned in the episode):

Twitter handle for Claire Davies: @cldavies22

Instagram handle for Claire Davies: @clairedavies22

New Normal Project podcast:

Insight Timer app:

Dr Craig Hassed:

Study focusing on the “Sacred Pause”:

5th SG-ANZICS Asia Pacific Intensive Care Forum:

Mastering Intensive Care podcast:

Mastering Intensive Care at Life In The Fast lane:

Email Andrew Davies:

Twitter handle for Andrew Davies: @andrewdavies66