Alone as a New Grad in the ICU

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    I recently graduated with my BSN as a second career in October 2011 and luckily snagged what I always imagined to be my dream job in an ICU in November. I believe that working in the ICU will eventually come to meet my expectations, but not until I have proven myself and am out of orientation.

    So far, orientation has been a long and bumpy road that I have been set to go down mostly on my own. I feel that there is not much support and that not many people are will to help me out. Its almost like they are waiting for me to crash and burn and give up. Why is it that they find pleasure in watching other people suffer, instead of assisting in my development.

    Cant they remember what it was like being a new grad, or just being new to the ICU?

    I almost feel like they are playing some evil game as if they are testing me to see how I will react to the added stress. For example, trying to plant a seed that I may not be good enough to work on the same unit, or that I have not earned my place there yet.

    Maybe they think it is good to see how I reach if they tear me down and point out all of my faults and make me feel stupid. I think they are waiting for a reaction of either seeing me bounce back with more force or seeing if I will just give up all together.

    Why cant they instead help. You know give some tips and tricks of the trade to help me fly instead of leaving me to drown.

    I have really pushed through. Put my head down. Learned as much as I could. Try to develop different strategies to improve myself and hopefully improve the experiences and orientation of anyone to come to this facilities ICU in the future.

    I always believe in helping others out, and improving on things that may have made my training and education better for others so that they will not have to struggle as much as I have. Why don't other people feel this way in the environment?

    Have any of you experienced this kind of behavior when coming into the ICU? Why is it that people seem to think that it is okay for nurses to "eat their young?"
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  3. 13 Comments so far...

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    I really feel that it would be possible to hire more new graduates into the ICU if everyone worked together to help develop, educate and shape the newbies rather than discredit them. This would make for a better work environment all together. People could help each other out. Be more friendly and welcoming. Instead, it seems that most are out for themselves and making you look bad makes them look better.

    Why is it that many seasoned nurses in the ICU seemed to have ulterior motives, and feel the need to be condescending, especially the ones who were once new grads in the ICU themselves?
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    I think the ICU attracts harsh personalities at times, and the softies who weren't harsh to begin with, grow cold over time to cope.

    Try not to take things personally--which I know is easier said than done. Just go in and do a good job and don't look for the approval of others. Know in your heart that you did a job, because you will be the only one who will tell you that.

    Once you get your experience, get out and find an ICU with a happier culture.

    The one I work in is great and people do say good job, but there are also some bad eggs that still hurt my feelings here in there.

    Like I said, just do the best you can and know that you are going to make mistakes but make it about the patient and not about you. Was the patient harmed? No. Is it really that big of a deal? No. What did you learn? Okay now move on.
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    Some units are better than others in this regard.

    Always assume good intent.

    Keep smiling and don't let them see you sweat. If they are out to 'get you', then don't give them the satisfaction.

    Ask for help when needed so that you don't go down in flames. Patients crash, sometimes there's nothing you can do to prevent it, but the seasoned nurse will say I NEED HELP IN HERE!

    Be like a duck ... keep a cool head and calm exterior, even though under the surface you're paddling like crazy! The patients appreciate it, as well as the families, doctors, ..... and I think it helps you too.

    I might be thinking to myself - Gawd, just get me OUTTA HERE! On the drive home, I might roll up the windows so I can scream, curse, and swear at everyone I spoke with that day, pounding the wheel ... but not at work. Whatever you need to do ... take your time, do it right the first time, and move on. Your shift WILL END. (even those 12 hour marathons)

    Get your experiences and later you can move on to a unit that's a better fit.

    GOOD LUCK!
    Last edit by Biffbradford on Mar 8, '12
    colie5265, tigerRN2013, CrufflerJJ, and 1 other like this.
  7. 1
    I'm sorry to say, but there are nurses out there that "eat their young". I chose nursing as a second career as well and had a difficult time adjusting to the change. There are good days and bad days. Don't let anyone tell you you're not good enough to be an ICU Nurse. You earned your place in the ICU. The person that hired you felt you were qualified. Feel proud of the fact that you are now an ICU Nurse. You accomplished your dreams.

    Nurses that act in a demeaning way to new grads have their own issues to resolve. Most of these dinosaurs got their associates and became nurses. Now theres a BSN new grad (who may be has another degree too) working with them. You don't think they're intimidated?

    Take the high road and don't participate in their nonsense. Concentrate on learning and growing as a nurse. Best of luck to you!
    colie5265 likes this.
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    I feel bad for your experience. Some people in ICU esp the experienced RNs thinks they know everything. They should understand that everybody knows something what they may not know.

    Take each experience as a challenge and prove yourself more competent than them. I am sure you will get there. And in future treat the others who comes next to you like how you wanted to be treated now.

    Keep smile and go on tomorrow is waiting for you!

    Good Luck!
    colie5265 likes this.
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    Really? Nurses still eat their young? The facility I work at doesn't seem to have this problem, maybe because we are so short staffed, we look at every able bodied nurse as a godsend!

    I do confess to coming across as, well witchy, rarely, but only because of the stress of the load. . . I feel bad when I am not a perfect example of a bright eyed, excited bushy tailed, rally round the troops kind of nurse, but real life nursing is, lets face it, not school.

    The other day, I lost it with a new nurse, but I had a good reason, not an excuse, but a good reason: in icu we each had 3 very sick patients, I actually had 4, one patient w/ a mother, who needed as much care as he did,mom was early stage dementia as well. . . we had 4 codes, and lost a 20 something pt. . . she's getting report from me, she kept inturupting me during report, to ask things I was in the process of tellnig her, just being all super special. Then we went into the pts room, to do a quick bedside, pt was getting a breathing tx and this nurse says help me turn her so i can look at her back. Well, I came unhinged on her, because it had been an awful night, she was rude, and demanding.

    Well, that's how you are trained to do things maybe, but A. the patient is not going to die if we don't turn her to do her skin assessment, B. she was still with a preceptor who could have assisted her in turning, C. no one had done any charting, and D. she was being all anal and super duper at a time when I was just wiped out!

    There are times when a newbie just needs to chill and observe and absorb the unit.So, maybe a self check is needed, just to make sure its not YOU, being super duper and ruffling feathers of us old hens. It will get better, I promise.
    colie5265 and CrufflerJJ like this.
  10. 1
    Quote from Preeti-ICU-RN
    I'm sorry to say, but there are nurses out there that "eat their young". I chose nursing as a second career as well and had a difficult time adjusting to the change. There are good days and bad days. Don't let anyone tell you you're not good enough to be an ICU Nurse. You earned your place in the ICU. The person that hired you felt you were qualified. Feel proud of the fact that you are now an ICU Nurse. You accomplished your dreams.

    Nurses that act in a demeaning way to new grads have their own issues to resolve. Most of these dinosaurs got their associates and became nurses. Now theres a BSN new grad (who may be has another degree too) working with them. You don't think they're intimidated?

    Take the high road and don't participate in their nonsense. Concentrate on learning and growing as a nurse. Best of luck to you!
    I take offense to that statement. I have almost 20 yrs nursing, with my little ole ADN degree. I also have a teaching degree and a BFA degree. You are assuming an awful lot, based on what? I am not easily intimidated, and I love to share what I have learned from patients, doctors and other nurses. School and books don't always teach you everything. It takes time to develope instincts.

    Also new grads have their own issues. . . for the most part, they don't know what they are doing. It is stressful to be responsible for your patients and THEIR patients. It takes time to get the hang of the culture. The nurses who act in a demeaning way to new grads, most likely do the same thing to their patients and all the other nurses they work with. And remember, YOU will be a dinosaur someday, if you are lucky!
    Ican&will likes this.
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    Wow...I don't think I've ever been called a dinosaur because I've worked for 20+ years and started out with a diploma. Well dearie, back in the day those were the degrees to have and hospitals would actually hire a diploma over a person with a BSN...why? Because we had not only theory but almost 3 years solid of floor experience. We could basically hit the floor running. Maybe you should check your filter before you speak or write. Personally, I don't really care what degree you have, and honestly, we don't know what type of degree or school you went to unless we ask. Why would I be intimidated? You should be intimidated by what you still have to learn and not be all cocky about it.

    Yes there are crabby ass people and yes, I can be one of them, but I like new grads in general and love to teach them, but when they start pulling the "oh this assignment is hard, I don't want this kid or that kid, etc" yeah then I will tell you to pull your panties out of that bunch and suck it up.

    Now, don't let these people get to you, you do your best, ask questions when you need to, don't be afraid to do so. When they figure out you are a team player, it will be fine. Hang in there! And sometimes, a little sarcasm from you can go a long way lol
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    First, just because you were hired doesn't mean you have "earned" your spot-work hard and listen more, observe much, and talk less, and maybe one day you will have earned it. There is a good reason for orientation and preceptorship. Second, I read many subjective things, nothing specific-is it possible you may be reading the situation wrong? If you "feel" this way, but you really can't put your finger on anything in particular, maybe you are reading the situation wrong. If it really is happening, and not a feeling, speak up-if you don't stand up for yourself, how are you going to be a patient advocate.
    As much as I hate to admit, some nurses still play the "let's see how much she can take before she breaks" game...ER and ICU seem to be famous for it. They want to see just how tough someone is in the face of adversity...there are much better ways of finding out, but that is the reasoning.
    And lastly...I have NEVER been intimated by someone with a BSN...and the attitude behind that statement is EXACTLY why older nurses eat their young!!!


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