I'm about to graduate from an accelerated BSN program, which has given me a lot of cultural crap and been low on the sciences if you know what I mean. Fortunately, I took a year of grad physiology and anatomy before starting the BSN, which should help some. I'm also 39, so have some maturity on my side! Anyway, here's my questions for you ICU veterans:
-Is CCU a good place to be v. other ICU areas?
-Is it as tough starting there as I hear it is? I've been told I could get a job in this area but will have to start nights. It seems like a steep learning curve also.
-Is there any benefit to working nights, do any of you actually like it v. days?
-I'm also considering either CRNA or NP, any words on this?
-Any advice or questions to ask during an interview or before starting to work in ICU?
Thank you in advance for any advice you have to offer!!
Dec 1, '02
Since I have worked on a CCU for 21 years, I guess I would have to say it is a good place to work. However, unlike sone ICU'S,the tempo changes constantly. Often, it is feast or famine. If you enjoy working in this type of enviroment then I would say go for it. I have also worked nights for 25 years. Why? I can always work my schedule around my family-school field trips, after school activities,etc. Yes, I am tired a lot but I am also ther when a lot of other working mothers can't be. I can go to the market and Dr. visits during the day hours. These are the benefits to me as a mother. As a nurse, I like the atmosphere better on the night shift. Less people around disturbing you,better team work with your co-workers,and more autonomy. I have thought about NP throughout the years I have been in nursing however, I have never had the time to go back to school. I haven't had a job interview
in 25 years so I don't think I can be of much help to you there,but if you are willing to work the night shift chances are they will be glad to hire you.
Dec 2, '02
I also graduated from an accelerated BSN program in Virginia. It was an excellent program, but you will have to continue to read and learn on your own time. I was a telemetry nurse for one year. I then applied to a critical care internship and worked in a very busy CCU.
- I happen to love cardiac so CCU was perfect for me.
- Yes, CCU can be tough, but you atleast have maturity on your side. Get a good pharmocology book and read, read, read especially cardiac drugs. I was fortunate enough to have worked days....lot of action....nothing against nights.
- Nights can be busy in its own way but days can kick a**. I think you learn a lot more on days. I've been a nurse for 3 years now and work nites....quieter and more $. You do a lot of monitoring on nights. Working in CCU, most procedures were done during the day.
- ICU is great experience for CRNA and NP. Once you start in ICU, maybe you can meet some CRNAs and shadow one.
- Since it seems like you want to start in ICU as a new grad, get into a critical care internship/program first. You might have to complete a separate application for this. An internship will provide the support and education needed to care for ICU patients. As a new grad you will also need strong preceptors to teach and support you in the ICU.
Good luck to ya! The best ICU nurses that I've met always continued to learn from books, journals, seminars, docs and other nurses. They also had years experience....can't beat that.
Dec 2, '02
Our ICU is a combined Cardiovascular, Surgical and Trauma ICU. One day you could be on the Cardiac side and the next day you could be on the Surgical side. I've been here 4 months now ad I really enjoy the challenge. What I don't enjoy is day shift! Starting Friday, I am switching to night shift permanently. On nights, you get a better chance to know your co-workers. You have to know what's really important to call the doctor about at 3am too. Plus there are no management types waling around either!
Dec 2, '02
Thanks so much for the good info...keep it coming! It's encouraging to hear about nights! I was afraid it might mess up my circadian rhythm but after all, I have always been a night owl and can't imagine going in at 7a then working till 7p. Now I can imagine the opposite very easily. Plus, it's nice to know you may be more left alone then pestered by management!
Dec 3, '02
Since I work straight nights, about the only time I see management is as they're walking in the door as I'm walking out the door.
I, too have always been a night owl. Those two weeks of day shift that I did just about killed me. Oh wait, that was the telephone pole that I hit head on with my car that almost killed me. Anyhow, good luck!
Dec 7, '02
I've worked in a mixed ICU for about a year now, straight out of school, and I love it. I cannot imagine working as a nurse in any other area of the hospital (except maybe PACU). I work nights and I've found it's a great place to learn because the pace is usually a little slower, and when things do get crazy, you really have to think things through before you pick up that phone and wake up that doctor. It's so easy to call a doctor on day shift; you can do it before you've even examined all your options. Also, I've found that codes tend to run more smoothly at night with an ER doc rather than whoever's in house (call a code during the day and any nearby doc who's in house may respond and start barking orders that were on the ACLS algorithms 20 years...not pretty). Contact with management is virtually nonexistent, other than seeing the shift supervisors, most of whom still work as nurses in various areas of the hospital. I'm less tired after a 12 hour night shift than a 12 hour day shift, and I require less sleep when sleeping days instead of nights (therefore giving me more hours in the day). I find night people tend to be more laidback and have a lot more fun (within reason of course...no one's having fun when a patient is crashing) and there's definitely more teamwork. I cannot think of any night person I work with who will not bend over backwards to help you, but I can think of plenty of day people who always seem to be too busy to help you turn patients or clean sh*t.
When I applied for my job, I asked for days and got nights. A few weeks after I got out of orientation, I was offered days and turned them down. I just like nights too much.
I also get to pick my son up from school every afternoon and spend some good time with him. Our family eats dinner together every night before I go to work. At this point in our lives, day shift just wouldn't work for us.
Dec 8, '02
Thanks for the encouraging news! Are working ICU on the intention to go to nurse anesthesia school by chance? Just curious if you have a certain track you are working toward or just enjoying being in ICU. There is so much knowledge to be gained and put toward other goals. I'm always interested in what others are doing out there. I myself have debated about FNP and CRNA. I'm an enteprenuer type who likes a lot of autonomy!
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