First tech shift in ICU - hints/tips?

  1. I am a current nursing student. I previously worked as a tech on a general med/surg unit before starting school. In order to get into the hospital I wanted, I now work as a tech in a locked psych unit. My dream job is to be a trauma nurse or CCU/CVICU nurse. I finally got all the formalities worked out and was able to pick up some shifts in the ICU at our heart hospital. I am beyond excited as it will help me make great connections to hopefully get into their new grad nurse residency when I graduate.

    However - I have never stepped foot in an ICU with the exception of the tour my aunt gave me of her CVICU and a patient I transported to an ICU once.

    My official job responsibilities are the usual (help with ADLs, vitals, I&O, etc) along with phlebotomy. Can anyone elaborate on what a tech usually does in a cardiac ICU? What do the nurses expect of us? What should I expect? What can I do to make sure everyone there really likes me? Any hints or tips from nurses would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!!
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    Joined: Oct '07; Posts: 1,327; Likes: 425
    Clinical Research Coordinator, Oncology; from US


  3. by   Biffbradford
    Help turn patients, do baths, watch the tubes and wires when you do so, do oral care on intubated patients, dumb the foleys hourly, draw off art lines for BS/K+/HCT/ABGs. You may get trained in phlebotomy for labs, stock drawers/cabinets, change suction canisters, print tele strips, some may do simple dressing changes, + other stuff.

    You'll do fine. Keep your eyes and ears open. There is something to learn every day no matter how long you work there.
  4. by   PQRSTmammaRN
    I worked in the ICUs as a student and what was mentioned is pretty much what you can expect. Just make sure everyone knows that you're a nursing student and ask questions! I asked to watch every procedure, asked RT why they were changing vent settings, inquired about drugs and drips... look at the EKG strips and try to figure out what's going on and why patients may be on a certain cardiac drug because of it... stuff like that.

    You won't have a lot of free time but make use of it when you do! And go above and beyond what is necessary of you. If you have free time and there is nothing interesting going on, grab a bottle of disinfectant and start spraying the place down. Ask if anyone needs help... It goes far and people remember. I impressed the staff so much that not only was I hired as an RN right out of school but I recently found out that a couple of the ICUs were fighting over me. lol Not a bad position to be in. Just like nurses, there are great techs, good techs, and lazy techs. Be one of the greats and you'll get your dream job!
  5. by   ProgressiveActivist
    Wear your running shoes and be prepared to work, always try to be present and available to pitch in and help. Always inform someone if you step off the unit. It's a team effort to stabilize a patient and a tech can truly make or break your day.

    I love working with bright, teachable young people. Your enthusiasm can be contagious. Best wishes to you.
  6. by   turnforthenurse
    answer call lights, assist patients with needs (ADLs/toileting/bathing (some units only do baths on nights)/incontinence care/oral care especially on the intubated patients), turning, vital signs, accuchecks, putting on telemetry leads, phlebotomy, stock...there may be more in your job description. When I worked as a tech we were allowed to insert foleys, IV's, do trach care/suctioning, blood cultures and do dressing changes. We would also run specimens to the lab, typically blood culture bottles because we weren't supposed to chute those. we would also help with patient transfers...and sometimes other misc. duties. We once had a patient who was a former nurse that was mean to everyone else but I somehow had a special connection with her lol. She had to go for a bone scan and was the primary RN asked me to go down with the patient to ease her anxiety.

    One random thing I liked doing (and the nurses I worked with appreciated this, too) was assembling "blood draw bags"...our machine would print the lab labels that were needed, so I would take them and stick them in the side pocket of the biohazard bag and assemble everything needed to draw blood (tourniquet, colored tubes, vaccutainer, butterfly needle, some alcohol swabs and some cotton balls). I would also do the same for central lines - as techs we were not allowed to draw off central lines but your hospital may be different.

    Overall just ask the nurses if they need help with anything - make yourself available. being a tech can be hectic, especially if you are the only one on the floor. let the nurses know where you will be and when you step off the unit/go on break.
  7. by   Biffbradford
    I forgot about the occasional run to the morgue. Add that to your list.