Absolutely, the level of care is different in ICU. One must be competent in various critical care skills, such as titrating essential drips, understanding hemodynamics, setting up and maintaining arterial lines, EVDS, lumbar drains, monitoring CVP, ICP and CPP. Drawing your own labs and ABG’s, and being able to interpret them. Understanding ventilators and different settings. Starting IVs on very sick patients, administering sedation and rapid sequence intubation medications, assisting in bedside procedures such as bronchs and G/J tube placement, etc. Critical care is a different world than a med-surg or step down (PCU/IMU) nurse. It’s requires constant critics thinking and being on your toes. Lots of labs and diagnostics, dealing with stressed out family members, lots of death and upper management pressure. Not for the faint at heart.
If you are asking if they need more education, ie, some sort of specific degree or advanced certification then the answer is generally no. There does, however, exist a different skillset just like in most specialties. The skills, however, are usually learned on the job. Special training or certifications are often offered at the hospital (ie, conscious sedation, CRRT, ECMO, etc). Orienting to an ICU is often between 3-6 mos -- depending on prior experience -- because of all the additional skills needed. The only thing that might not be offered at the hospital is ACLS certification, which is needed to work in an ICU.
yes icu nurses have training in life saving medications that require special parameters for administration and titration according to the pharmacokinetics of the medication and pathophysiology of the patient.