Module information

Module details

Introduction to Critical Care Science
Module code

Aim of this module

This rotation will enable trainees to gain underpinning knowledge, skills and experience of Critical Care Science through introduction to the range of critical care diagnostic, monitoring and therapeutic services provided in the specialism, and the interaction with patients and patient-centred practice. Trainees will be expected to perform some routine procedures and develop and build their professional practice.

Work-based content


# Learning outcome Competency Action
# 1 Learning outcome 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Competency

Perform all tasks in accordance with relevant procedures/protocols/legislation, including infection control, health and safety, and critical incident reporting, ensuring appropriate patient identity checks are performed and the patient is fully identified on each type of recording.

Action View
# 2 Learning outcome 2,3,4 Competency

Respect the dignity, rights, privacy and confidentiality of patients at all times, taking appropriate action to respond to the specific needs of the critically ill patient.

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# 3 Learning outcome 2,3,4 Competency

Prepare the environment and set up equipment ready for use for monitoring, therapy or measurement.

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# 4 Learning outcome 2,3,4 Competency

Explain the procedure to the patient, if they are fully cognitive, or the relative if present, address any procedure-related questions and gain appropriate consent.

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# 5 Learning outcome 1 Competency

Use correct non-touch aseptic technique in the critical care environment.

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# 6 Learning outcome 1 Competency

Use correct modified aseptic technique (clean technique) in the critical care environment.

Action View
# 7 Learning outcome 2 Competency

Set up a cardiac monitor on adult patients, interpreting and responding to trends in physiological variables.

Action View
# 8 Learning outcome 2 Competency

Set up non-invasive blood pressure (BP) monitoring equipment in adult patients, interpreting and responding to trends in physiological variables.

Action View
# 9 Learning outcome 2 Competency

Set up oxygen saturation monitoring equipment in adult patients, interpreting and responding to trends in physiological variables.

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# 10 Learning outcome 3 Competency

Select, set up and deliver appropriate oxygen therapy, monitoring, interpreting and responding to changes appropriately using nasal cannulae, simple face masks, non- rebreathe masks and venturi masks.

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# 11 Learning outcome 3 Competency

Select, set up and deliver appropriate oxygen therapy and nebulising devices, monitoring, interpreting and responding to changes appropriately.

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# 12 Learning outcome 4 Competency

Assess the patient’s suitability for the proposed investigation and obtain a blood gas sample suitable for the assessment of blood gas status using a recognised technique.

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# 13 Learning outcome 5 Competency

Correctly store medical gases for use in a critical care environment.

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# 14 Learning outcome 5 Competency

Assist in the connection of medical gases to wall outlets and cylinders.

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# 15 Learning outcome 6 Competency

Use the National Early Warning Scoring system in relation to critical care.

Action View
# 16 Learning outcome 7 Competency

Critically evaluate a range of critical care monitoring, therapeutic and diagnostic services and treatment pathways for critically ill patients.

Action View


You must complete:

  • 1 case-based discussion(s)
  • 1 of the following DOPS/ OCEs:
Set up equipment and consumables to measure NIBP on patient DOPS
Perform IQC on Blood Gas Analyser discuss clinical relevance DOPS
Set up and connect CPAP circuit to patient DOPS
Set up and perform pre use checks on Mechanical Ventilator DOPS
Perform a blood gas measurement and discuss the results DOPS
Prepare and connect consumables to facilitate ETCO2 monitoring on a ventilated patient DOPS
Attend an equipment repair or calibration and introduce yourself to the relatives explaining the reason for the event OCE
Introduce yourself to a patient during the set up of a piece of equipment at the bedside OCE

Learning outcomes

  1. Use correct aseptic technique and aseptic handling of medical devices in the critical care environment.
  2. Perform a range of bedside monitoring techniques and be able to interpret acute events and actions required, differentiating between physiological and technical abnormalities in patient monitoring techniques. (This should include ECG monitoring, oxygen saturation monitoring and non-invasive BP monitoring.)
  3. Administer oxygen therapy across a range of delivery systems to critically ill patients.
  4. Perform a blood gas measurement and describe its clinical relevance.
  5. Store medical gases correctly, ensuring adherence to the safety issues in the context of the critical situation.
  6. Use the National Early Warning Scoring system in relation to critical care.
  7. Document local diagnostic and treatment pathways for critically ill patients within a critical care environment.

Academic content (MSc in Clinical Science)

Important information

The academic parts of this module will be detailed and communicated to you by your university. Please contact them if you have questions regarding this module and its assessments. The module titles in your MSc may not be exactly identical to the work-based modules shown in the e-portfolio. Your modules will be aligned, however, to ensure that your academic and work-based learning are complimentary.

Learning outcomes

  1. Describe and explain the role of the Critical Care Scientist (CCS) in the care of patients and within the healthcare team.
  2. Describe infection control, risks and emergency procedures within the critical care environment.
  3. Know the criteria for admission to, and discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU), including factors influencing intensity and site of care (ward, high dependency unit [HDU], ICU).
  4. Describe the pathophysiology of common diseases that result in admission to an ICU.
  5. Recall and apply knowledge of basic healthcare science with respect to the cardiovascular, respiratory and renal systems to explain a range of typical patient scenarios relevant to critical care science.
  6. Explain how to recognise and respond to adverse trends in monitored parameters.
  7. Describe the principles of ECG monitoring.
  8. Describe the clinical framework for and basic principles of the following within a critical care environment:
    • patient monitoring systems
    • date interpretation and management
    • oxygen therapy techniques
    • blood gas analysis.
  9. Recognise the legal and ethical issues arising from caring for an acutely ill patient.
  10. Explain and justify the use of the Alert, Voice, Pain, Unresponsive (AVPU) system in the care of critically ill patients.

Indicative content

Techniques and functions performed by a critical care scientist

  • Physiological support, measurement and clinical intervention including: respiratory, cardiovascular, renal and hepatic, neurological and gastroIntestinal
  • Health and Safety, Risk Assessment and Clinical Governance

Common respiratory, cardiac and metabolic diseases resulting in ICU admission, including:

• Asthma
• Chronic lung disease
• Pneumonia and respiratory tract infections
• Chest trauma
• Ischaemic heart disease
• Circulatory collapse/shock
• Cardiac arrhythmia
• Biochemical, endocrine or metabolic derangement
• Common congenital cardiac disorders

Anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system

Respiratory system

  • Control of respiration
  • Diseases affecting gas transfer in the respiratory system.
  • Physical limitations of gas movement within the respiratory tract
  • Ventilation/perfusion matching

Cardiovascular system

  • Structure and function of blood vessels
  • Coronary circulation
  • Capillary exchange
  • Factors affecting blood flow
  • Control of blood pressure and flow
  • Shock and homeostasis
  • Circulatory routes
  • Cardiac output
  • Cardiac cycle
  • Normal and abnormal haemodynamic and ECG response to exercise
  • Overview of pathophysiology of acquired, congenital and ischaemic heart disease

Renal system

  • Structure and function of the kidneys
  • Evaluation of kidney function
  • Factors affecting renal function/perfusion


  • Characteristics
  • Haemostasis
  • Blood groups and types
  • Typing and cross-matching
  • Clotting cascade
  • FBC

Fluid, electrolyte and acid-base homeostasis

  • Fluid compartments and fluid balance
  • Oedema

Infection control

  • Types of organisms
  • Modes of transfer
  • Protective strategies

ECG monitoring

  • Heart rate
  • Rhythm
  • Conduction
  • ST segment change
  • QT interval
  • Indications
  • Limitations
  • Techniques
  • Advantages and disadvantages of different lead configurations

Devices used in the treatment of critically ill patients

  • Type of devices used in the treatment of critically ill patients
  • Scientific principles of minimal patient monitoring systems
  • Application of minimal patient monitoring techniques
  • Normal/abnormal and artefacts and inaccuracies associated with outputs from minimal patient monitoring systems
  • Clinical significance of outputs from minimal patient monitoring systems
  • Essential services and the relevant safety systems
  • Ventilation and the process of ventilation
  • Suction devices
  • Syringe drivers
  • Computers and data recording systems
  • Storage of medical gases and the safety issues
  • National Early Warning Scoring system in relation to Critical Care.

Clinical experiences

Important information

Clinical experiential learning is the range of activities trainees may undertake in order to gain the experience and evidence to demonstrate their achievement of module competencies and assessments. The list is not definitive or mandatory, but training officers should ensure, as best training practice, that trainees gain as many of these clinical experiences as possible. They should be included in training plans, and once undertaken they should support the completion of module assessments and competencies within the e-portfolio.


  • Observe and assist in capnography (CO2) monitoring and invasive pressure monitoring and discuss the principles and place of bedside monitoring, including the hazards of inappropriate monitoring, misuse of alarms and principles of disconnection monitors with your training officer.
  • Observe a range of routine procedures in Critical Care Science and critically evaluate how these investigations contribute to the diagnosis, management and care of patients, considering the range of needs of people with disabilities within a typical care pathway for patients with common cardiac diseases.
  • Work with a critical care clinical scientist or equivalent and describe the role of the critical care scientist in the care of the acutely ill patient and the wider role within the clinical team.
  • Attend a range of theatre sessions where critically ill patients are treated and reflect on the essential services and the relevant safety systems in place throughout critical care and theatre.
  • Attend a multidisciplinary meeting and reflect on the way the multidisciplinary team contributes to the care of patients with disorders of the cardiovascular system.