In my opinion the length of orientation is less important than the quality. Your previous experience with gtts and vents will give you a bit of an advantage over a nurse without this experience. However, it really is a different world dealing with hearts regardless of your previous experience. Things that I feel are essential and wish that I had as a new nurse to the CTICU would be the following:
Critical care classes where hemodynamics are covered in depth including PA catheters. (You should not be caring for these patients until you have a good baseline knowledge of this subject! No matter what other nurses may tell you!). Make sure you know how to set up/troubleshoot/ these devices BEFORE you are standing at the bedside!
A good solid review on cardiac physiology/pathophysiology and a good review of the physiology of the ANS/CNS.
Current evidenced based practice on administration and titration of vasoactives/chronotropic/inotropic medications. Know what meds your docs use. They may be different from doc to doc. Know your unit/facility policies regarding administration/titration of these meds.
An EKG review.
Be familiar with the use and operation of the pacemakers on your unit! How to program them/place pads/connect them to the wires on the patient etc.
Know your unit/facility Insulin protocol.
In a perfect world orientation would include observation at cath lab and an actual CABG.
The books I have found most helpful are the following. Your mileage may vary.
Drugs for the heart: Opie/Gersh
The only EKG book you will ever need: Thayer (I seem to be weird in this respect most people prefer the book by dale dubin sp?)
Manual of perioperative care in adult cardiac surgery: Bojar
Manual of critical care nursing: Baird/Bethel
Fast Facts by Kathy White.
The ICU book: Morino
My pharm and pathophys books from nursing school
What you need to do: Take as many hearts as possible while on orientation. Identify nurses you can learn from/count on when you are on your own. Lots of self study! Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions!!!! 8 weeks may be enough for you, if not DO NOT HESITATE to speak up. Even if you are denied, at least you will have voiced your objections!
Good luck and I hope you love it!