What is an intensivist?

An intensivist is a board-certified physician who provides special care for critically ill patients. Also known as a critical care physician, the intensivist has advanced training and experience in treating this complex type of patient.

What kind of training does an intensivist have?

After medical school, an intensivist completes a residency and board certification in a specialty such as surgery, internal medicine, pulmonary medicine or pediatrics, plus an additional two- to three-year fellowship and certification in critical care medicine.

How is an intensivist different from other specialists who treat critically ill patients?

Rather than focusing on specific body systems – like cardiologists (the heart and vascular system) or pulmonologists (the lungs and respiratory system) – intensivists take a comprehensive approach to caring for ICU patients.

The intensivist has the primary responsibility for the ICU patient’s care versus acting as a consultant, as many specialists do. In this role, he or she leads a team of caregivers who are experts in different specialties. The intensivist also oversees the many decisions involved in a critically ill patient’s care, and coordinates all the other services the patient may need – including those from specialists.

How do intensivists improve the quality of care in the ICU?

When intensivists follow the evidence-based guidelines for intensive care established by the Society of Critical Care Medicine – including the multispecialty team approach we use at UMass Memorial – there are well-documented benefits that include:

  • Improved patient outcomes, including survival rates
  • Reduced complications
  • Shorter lengths of stay in the ICU
  • Enhanced medication safety

Advancing the practice of critical care medicine through innovative intensivist-led staffing solutions.

More than 5 million patients are admitted to intensive care units in the United States annually. Ballooning costs, high mortality, readmission rates, and declining patient satisfaction scores are driving the need for a new approach.


The Intensivist Group, provides critical care services to hospitals, including intensivist and integrated hospitalist solutions. Programs are designed to ensure ICUs reach consistently higher levels of performance and improved outcomes through collaboration, evidence-based protocols, processes and measuring performance.

The Intensivist Group aligns with hospital partners on key performance goals which typically focus on:

  • Reduced mortality
  • Fewer hospital-acquired infections
  • Decreased ICU and hospital length of stay
  • Enhanced compliance with Leapfrog and Joint Commission standards
  • Increased patient and medical staff satisfaction
  • Improved recruitment and retention of medical and nursing staffs

A Team-Based Approach

Starting with a team-based structure, The Intensivist Group integrates talented physicians, expert support staff, proven processes and strong leadership in each program. Analytics are employed to measure performance and drive continuous quality improvements, both at the physician and program level.