Getting an ICU position as first job

  1. 0
    I just started my final semester of nursing school. Assuming things go as they should, graduation is slated for mid-December. Getting a position in the ICU has been my goal since I started my accelerated 2nd degree program last year. What can I do to bolster my resume/ability to land an ICU position right out of school?

    Fortune has it that I got a preceptorship at a prominent hospital in Manhattan on the PACU unit. I plan on studying for and getting my ACLS/PALS before I graduate. I am a peer tutor and the treasurer of the National Student Nurse Association chapter at my school.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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  3. 12 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Speaking from first hand experience, I can't say that going straight from school to ICU is a necessarily a good idea. Irregardless of how brainy you are, or 'worldly', the first few months for you will most likely be like a deer in the headlights. I'm not knocking the idea, but just suggesting that you stay open to the possibility of some med-surg first where you will still learn a TON without all the stress of having patients trying to die on you right out of school. FWIW
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    I agree, Biff. I learned more in the first year I worked as a nurse than I did in all my years of school it felt like. JMO.

    Anne, RNC
  6. 2
    Speaking as a relatively new nurse (two years in), I have to agree w/ the two previous users. Sometimes, even a sparkling resume won't get you an ICU position right out of school. I remember getting so bummed when I would apply and they would deny my application w/in a few days. I graduated top of my class and did plenty of extracurriculars, and it didn't make a difference. I ended up taking a med-surg position for about ten months prior to transferring to a CVICU position. I will say, as much as I realized M/S nursing is NOT for me, it did help cushion the blow when I did move to the ICU. I remember recovering my first open-heart and being like, "Omg...can I do this?!" One year later, I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else; but, coming to the ICU initially is VERY intimidating. Good luck to you! Just keep an open mind! If you don't get your ideal position immediately, just be patient. It will come.
    Esme12 and GrnTea like this.
  7. 0
    One question to consider is whether you are willing to relocate for an ICU job. In my region there are so many nurses looking for work that new grads are fortunate to land an acute care position and many start in long term care. And getting hired often depends on who you know- ... It really helps to have been an aide or tech there first. ICUs require two years acute care experience.

    Yes, I hear that there are still hospitals that hire new grads to the ICU and it sounds as though you are a good candidate. But would it be so terrible to get a year or two of solid acute care experience under your belt at a large teaching hospital, and then be able to take your pick of ICU jobs in whatever specialty interests you most?
  8. 0
    It's hard to get an ICU job as a new grad but not impossible. In my city, we hire many new grads into specialty fields and they do fine with extensive training. I got an ICU job before I graduated. I had good grades but wasn't at the top of my class. I had a preceptorship in ICU.

    Some say its wise to get med surg experience then do ICU. I think otherwise. I think if ICU is what you want to do then go straight into it. Find a new grad program with extensive training. Or move to a different region that accepts more new grads into their hospitals. Apply everywhere! But if med surg is your only option when you graduate, it's not the end of the world. We have many nurses that went that route.

    You seem to be a good candidate! Good luck and stay positive.
  9. 0
    Yes you can get an icu job as a new grad and yes it's doable. Worth it's weight is a good preceptor. A lot of new nurses will come into icu and there preceptor will expect them to know everything and will not be understanding. A new nurse does not have honed instincts yet but they can be cultivated by a good preceptor. It's subtle things such as how to fix an art line when the wave form becomes messed up or how to tell when a pt is crashing. All of that takes time but a good preceptor can help you with the changes and alert you to them.

    To get the job? I would try and extern in an icu. I would make myself marketable and always be friendly to everybody you meet or come into contact with in the hospital. Making it known that you are friendly and willing to work goes a long way in getting a job. The other thing is act confident but not over confident. Trust yourself but trust yourself to learn from others.

    As a new grad a couple years ago I had a wonderful preceptor who took the fact that I was a new nurse and helped mold me into the the template that I teach others.

    Don't let anybody discourage you. Do what you need to do in your career. Congrats on almost being done.
  10. 0
    Quote from LNRN11
    Speaking as a relatively new nurse (two years in), I have to agree w/ the two previous users. Sometimes, even a sparkling resume won't get you an ICU position right out of school. I remember getting so bummed when I would apply and they would deny my application w/in a few days. I graduated top of my class and did plenty of extracurriculars, and it didn't make a difference. I ended up taking a med-surg position for about ten months prior to transferring to a CVICU position. I will say, as much as I realized M/S nursing is NOT for me, it did help cushion the blow when I did move to the ICU. I remember recovering my first open-heart and being like, "Omg...can I do this?!" One year later, I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else; but, coming to the ICU initially is VERY intimidating. Good luck to you! Just keep an open mind! If you don't get your ideal position immediately, just be patient. It will come.
    I could not have said that better! My sentiments exactly!!

    Anne, RNC
  11. 0
    Thank you all for replying to my post. You guys make a lot of good points. I actually got transferred to a SICU unit for my preceptorship which I think is a plus. Depending on how my preceptorship goes, I will try to get into the ICU as soon possible after I pass my boards. If that doesn't happen, I actually wouldn't mind doing a year or so of med/surg to get some experience. First priority though is to get through this last semester, do the best that I can in the SICU and pass the boards.
  12. 0
    That's great! Good luck!!


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