CSICU Practicum

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    Hi All,
    I'm starting off in the Cardiac Surgical ICU for my senior practicum. What do y'all appreciate of students and soon to be new grads when you're precepting? I'm very passionate about this area and would like some insight as to what other preceptors enjoy/dislike. Thanks! :-)
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    I can't speak for experienced CVSICU nurses as I'm new to this specialty myself, but I can give some insight from the "newbie" perspective.

    Questions. Ask them. A lot. The amount of knowledge these nurses possess is staggering. Be a sponge! You are in a unique position to learn without all the stress of extreme expectation.

    If you don't know the answer, say you don't know. Trust me, your preceptor knows the answer and can smell BS from a mile away.

    Study, Study, Study. When you think you're done studying... study some more. i make it a point to make a list throughout the day of things that are mentioned that I want to know more about. Then I look it up as soon as I get home.

    If you have down time (which is rare, but may happen from time to time), and your preceptor doesn't mind (which they shouldn't), seek out interesting cases, new admits, transfers... anything that you haven't been exposed to or want to know more about.

    You'll know almost right away if this is the specialty for you (or so I've heard; I couldn't imagine not absolutely loving it!). I could go on and on about how amazing this unit is, but in all honesty its not for everyone. Its fast paced, crazy intense, and you're expected to be on top of your game no matter what rolls out of the OR. You MUST have thick skin. You WILL feel dumb at times. You WILL screw up. Learn from it and move on. The gym, my family, and chocolate cake get me past the tough days.


    All that said, I wouldn't trade it for the world!
    emerjensee likes this.
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    Be proactive/hands-on to the best of your ability. Just because you're in a specialized unit doesn't mean the nurses there don't need assistance with other issues, no matter how minor (IV, foley, NGT insertions, bs errands etc) If you make yourself as useful as possible in addition to asking questions, etc. then that's the best your could give your preceptor. I find that a lot of my students like to watch, or only assist during patient pull-ups/turns. Good luck in your unit. That's actually the same unit I did my capstone in years ago. Looking back I should've been more hands-on!
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    As a clinical coach, I look for my new RN to take initiative and to look for opportunities to learn. I expect my new grad to be energetic and focused on his/her role and to ask lots of questions. Our new grads take a critical care course that is about 10 weeks long, in addition to working their shifts and while it is difficult, DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME!!!! Yes, we know it's hard and time consuming, but you are NEVER done learning in this field, and when you think you are, you need to get out. This "seasoned" RN is working full-time and going to school full-time, at 53 years of age. And yes, if your team is slow, offer to help out the other nurses. They will really appreciate it and you may gain a new perspective and learn something you didn't expect to. Good luck!
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    I've come late to this thread -- only just discovered it.

    Ask questions, but by all means, think first. Not every question needs to be asked! (I say this after a long, LONG shift with a newbie who asked every question that popped into her head and contrary to what I've always believed, there ARE some dumb questions. Like the one I've already answered five or six times in the past hour . . . . ) Ask your questions in a way that indicates you've given it some thought first. Not "How come you didn't give that?" but "Are you holding the metoprolol because her heart rate is down to 48 even though her blood pressure is still high?" or "When would you think about holding that dose?"

    Be present, attentive and interactive. If you're in the nurse's station playing with your smart phone or on Facebook, I'm going to think you're not interested in learning anything and I won't go out of my way to find something to teach you or show you.

    Even if you've already catheterized every patient within a six mile radius, if I offer you the chance to do another one, grab it. If you don't need the practice, view it as good will and ensuring that I will offer you the chance to put in the IV you DO need practice at.

    And yes, study. I don't expect you to know everything -- or even much -- but if we've encountered this before and you STILL don't know what it is, I'm going to suspect that you haven't studied. Go home and look things up -- the OR procedure you've never heard of before, the medication that you've never seen before. Honestly, I don't expect you to remember everything you've looked up, either, but if you never bother to look anything up that will become obvious. And when my nurse manager asks me if I'd recommend offering you a job, I'll tell her so.
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    Thanks to all who have replied! Learning TONS and loving it- ECMO, LVADs, fresh hearts, emerg trips to cath lab.. Love it!
    ktliz likes this.


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