Mastering Intensive Care 031 with Jean-Louis Vincent

Jean-Louis Vincent – The Intensive Care ward round should not be boring

Is your ward round stimulating and educational? Do you help learning by creating debates on the ward round for and against the simple interventions we use? In this week’s episode, Belgian intensivist, Professor Jean-Louis Vincent describes what happens in his ICU, on a daily basis, and indeed on the ward rounds. He tells us how he enjoys going several times a day to see what is happening in his ICU, the schedule of ward rounds there, the importance of a single conversation on the ward round, and how much we can learn from our patients, especially about their physiology.



Jean-Louis is perhaps the most well-known intensivist in the world. He is a major leader of his generation and in fact a pioneer of the large international conference, having run the Brussels International Symposium of Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (ISICEM) for a staggering 38 consecutive years.

Jean-Louis is a Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Brussels and an intensivist in the Department of Intensive Care at Erasme University Hospital in Brussels. He is a Past-President of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine, the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, the European Shock Society, the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine and the International Sepsis Forum.

Jean-Louis has published over 900 original articles, over 400 book chapters and review articles and has edited 102 books. He is the editor-in-chief of Critical Care, Current Opinion in Critical Care, and ICU Management & Practice and he is a member of the editorial boards of about 30 other journals. In this conversation, Jean-Louis and I also covered topics such as:

  • Why the speed of change with patients is what he loves the most
  • His enjoyment of a combination of clinical, research and education
  • Mentoring trainees starts by having them present their organized thoughts about each patient’s problems and their management plans
  • How his ICU uses the SOAP approach (subjective, objective, assessment, plan) on ward rounds
  • How trainees should try to learn a couple of important things every day (rather than everything they are told)
  • Communication requires being open and honest including when there is imprecision
  • The need for optimal personal behaviour during communication encounters
  • The benefits of differing opinions in clinical care
  • How large conferences fit in to overall educational activity
  • How his active social life keeps him balanced
  • The benefits of coming to work with a smile to encourage others in your team to be in a good mood
  • How developing research activity widens our career horizon
  • We should all be trying to improve ourselves every day
  • The diversity of intensive care makes it the best job in medicine

Professor Jean-Louis Vincent has had incredible influence and an imposing career. I first heard him speak 24 years ago and was mesmerized by his exuberant, passionate and entertaining presentation style on a diverse range of topics about which he seemed deeply knowledgeable. I suspect many of you have heard Jean-Louis speak at a conference, with his wonderful Belgian accent. But how many of us have heard him speak about what really happens in his own clinical environment? Please enjoy listening to this episode.

Show notes


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 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 andrewATmasteringintensivecare.com.


Further reading and listening


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Posted by Andrew Davies

Husband/father first. Melbourne. Intensivist/researcher aiming to bring my best self to work & life. Two podcasts: Mastering Intensive Care & New Normal Project

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