Responsibilities of a CCU nurse...

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    Could anyone tell me what a CCU nurse deals with on a shift? What are your responsibilities? How is it different/similar to Med Surg nursing? Can someone orient me to all of the devices/monitors? Any pics/websites of monitors/devices? What is a typical day like? How do you know you are ready to be in an ICU?

    I am currently on a Med Surg floor..and was wondering what it is really like in an ICU.
    Thanks
    ~A~
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  4. 4 Comments so far...

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    I think the best way to find out what it's like, is to shadow an ICU nurse for a shift. They can explain some of the equipment, at least the basics.

    I've never been a med/surg nurse, so maybe others can contrast better. Someone once told me the difference between ICU nurses and med/surg nurses, is that med/surg nurses expect their patients to improve. And ICU nurses expect their patients to get worse. It's sort-of true. This just illustrates how we assess, and that we're always looking for subtle changes. I think a lot of our responsibility is to anticipate and be proactive.

    On-the-job, I imagine ICU nurses appear to have more freedom and are expected to use a lot of judgement in patient care. We don't follow orders to a T. I'm often given several parameters to keep the patient between, and several drugs with a range of doses to use in order to keep them within the parameters.

    If you're ready to do a lot of challenging learning and thinking, you'll be fine. Make sure you get a good training program and preceptorship. You won't be expected to know everything when you start, but you'll be expected to be up to the challenge of learning a lot. Go follow an ICU nurse, it won't hurt!
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    Still a student, but I work in a CCU and the main difference between it and m/s floors is that it's less task-oriented.. like less medpassing, 1-2 patients only, and the MDs are always around. However, it seems pretty low-action compared to the CVICU - patients are (usually) way more critical there (post CABG, TAAA repair) and most patients have a swan or some other monitoring device, whereas in the CCU it's usually just EKG monitoring. We do get some very critical pts in the CCU such as those doing hypothermia post cardiac arrest and a very low number of CVVH pts.
    Fabian Jone Dale V. likes this.
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    the differences between med-surg and a critical care area are going to depend a lot on where you work. as a traveler, i worked in one suburban dc hospital where the icu patients were pretty much what i'd expect to see on a med-surg floor in the teaching hospital i came from. the real icu patients were transferred to a tertiary institution.

    in general, icu patients are sicker than med-surg patients, and the staffing ratios are different. while you may have 6-8 med-surg patients, you'll generally get 1-3 icu patients. vital signs are done every 15 to 120 minutes, and include strict i & o, oxygen saturations, and cardiac rhythms. you'll be watching your patients more closely in an attempt to anticipate (not just catch) changes. there's more autonomy, usually, and you work more closely with physicians.

    you don't say whether you're in a teaching hospital or community hospital. if you're near a teaching hospital, you'll get a better critical care experience by shadowing one of their nurses than you would at a community hospital. (in general, of course. your milage may vary.)
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    The responsibilites of a CCU nurse involve the complete managment of the patient, intepret hemodynamic waveforms, titrating multiple gtts, using judgements over ordered medications. I always use my own judgement over everything, and never totally trust a written order, as things change all the time and the written orders have a hard time of keeping up. I am not sure if this role is easily explained, the best way to find out would be to shadow a nurse


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