How do I become a critical care nurse? - page 3

by mark1973

101,071 Views | 52 Comments

I would appreciate feedback from anybody working in critical care. My questions are: -What does a critical care nurse do? -Can you get a job working as a critical care nurse right out of nursing school? -If you... Read More


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    My hospital hires graduate nurses into ICU. We have a three month (at least) preceptorship and critical care classes once a week. Once I was on my own the stress level was high. I had loads of experienced nurses to consult and never was made to feel I was asking a dumb question. The key is the percentage of 'new' nurses there are on a shift compared to experienced nurses.
  2. 0
    Quote from ghillbert
    Not true - many many hospitals hire new grad nurses.
    *** I work in a large 26 bed SICU and we pretty much only hire new grads. Of course we will hire experienced ICU nurses but almost never do they hire med-surg nurses. We have a 7 month nurse residency program for new grads going into the SICU. In my opinion med-surg experience is not very helpful for ICU nurses.
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    "How do I become critical care nurse?" I don't want to hijack the thread. I have the same question, and I have a particular couple of questions before I register in a few weeks for my first semester of ADN.

    Right now I'm told I will probably get my pick because of my grades--really pumped, but now the decisions are hard, what if I pick the wrong site/professor; so this is the deal, we pick our professor and site, we have to number our choices of course; what do I want first? Well, I don't know! That's my question to all you ICU nurses out there. What will best prepare me: There is a great professor that everyone says is not only the best but that they were well prepared for level II. However, the professor's site is a rehab facility (I'm guessing that's considered med-surg?). Then, I know someone at a hospital who told me pick that site no matter who the professor is, and after first semester, I could probably get in as a tech, and she will help me with that/contacts/network. The professor for that site I hear is good but not as great as the other.

    My question is if I pick the "better" professor at the rehab facility, will I still be appealing after first semester when I start applying for tech positions? There are two hospitals I know will hire new grads into ICU and/or have a nurse residency program; both professors are sort of rated as "okay" as opposed to "the best." Should I try to pick a hospital I know hires new grads into ICU even though I'm just in my first semester. Do I go for the best professor no matter the site because I may learn more, or do I start now and pick the site where I'm going to want to work, meet people, see how things there run? Learn as much as possible about that hospital? Which is more important my first semester? Neither professor is "bad" -- the one professor is really supposed to be the best, though, but I'm hesitant cause the site is a rehab facility?

    What will better prepare me skills-wise and opportunity-wise for ICU (if I can get both at the same time during first semester--our first semester is med/surg is what I'm told, but I don't have orientation til the end of the month, so I'm only going on hearsay!)

    Thanks for guiding us wannabe ICU nurses!

    I do want to add, to give more information, one of the hospitals is a teaching hospital, the other hospital recruiter told me to get in as a tech too (it's level II trauma) and my school has a great reputation.
  4. 0
    Quote from studentinnursing
    "How do I become critical care nurse?" I don't want to hijack the thread. I have the same question, and I have a particular couple of questions before I register in a few weeks for my first semester of ADN.

    Right now I'm told I will probably get my pick because of my grades--really pumped, but now the decisions are hard, what if I pick the wrong site/professor; so this is the deal, we pick our professor and site, we have to number our choices of course; what do I want first? Well, I don't know! That's my question to all you ICU nurses out there. What will best prepare me: There is a great professor that everyone says is not only the best but that they were well prepared for level II. However, the professor's site is a rehab facility (I'm guessing that's considered med-surg?). Then, I know someone at a hospital who told me pick that site no matter who the professor is, and after first semester, I could probably get in as a tech, and she will help me with that/contacts/network. The professor for that site I hear is good but not as great as the other.

    My question is if I pick the "better" professor at the rehab facility, will I still be appealing after first semester when I start applying for tech positions? There are two hospitals I know will hire new grads into ICU and/or have a nurse residency program; both professors are sort of rated as "okay" as opposed to "the best." Should I try to pick a hospital I know hires new grads into ICU even though I'm just in my first semester. Do I go for the best professor no matter the site because I may learn more, or do I start now and pick the site where I'm going to want to work, meet people, see how things there run? Learn as much as possible about that hospital? Which is more important my first semester? Neither professor is "bad" -- the one professor is really supposed to be the best, though, but I'm hesitant cause the site is a rehab facility?

    What will better prepare me skills-wise and opportunity-wise for ICU (if I can get both at the same time during first semester--our first semester is med/surg is what I'm told, but I don't have orientation til the end of the month, so I'm only going on hearsay!)

    Thanks for guiding us wannabe ICU nurses!

    I do want to add, to give more information, one of the hospitals is a teaching hospital, the other hospital recruiter told me to get in as a tech too (it's level II trauma) and my school has a great reputation.
    *** It's not about skills you will learn, it's about building relationships and networking. Decide where you want to work and do everything you can to go to that hospital. Get to know the nurses and managers at that hospital if you want to work there as a nurse. They are more likely to hire people they know and like as they will have some idea of your work ethic and "teachability".
  5. 0
    Quote from PMFB-RN
    *** It's not about skills you will learn, it's about building relationships and networking. Decide where you want to work and do everything you can to go to that hospital. Get to know the nurses and managers at that hospital if you want to work there as a nurse. They are more likely to hire people they know and like as they will have some idea of your work ethic and "teachability".
    Thanks so much! I'm working on that now before school so I know which sites to pick; at least I'm on the right track.

    What other floors should we be getting to know people in, in case we can't start out in ICU; what's the best to learn "on the way up" to ICU?
  6. 0
    Quote from studentinnursing
    Thanks so much! I'm working on that now before school so I know which sites to pick; at least I'm on the right track.

    What other floors should we be getting to know people in, in case we can't start out in ICU; what's the best to learn "on the way up" to ICU?
    *** Stepdown or telementry.
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    I know this topic kind of died down, but I just wanted to throw my two cents out there. I live and work in NE Ohio. I'm a tech in a Level 1 Trauma center. A lot of new grads that I know get hired into the ICU's around here Some hospitals I have heard that do hire new grads are Akron City, Cleveland Clinic, Metro, and UH. I think getting in is all a matter of how you did in school, how your clinical instructors saw you (for letters of reference), your ambition, and your ability to impress the heck out of people. It is certainly possible and it certainly does happen in my neck of the woods, it just takes a lot of work.
  8. 0
    No. I'm sorry. Not true...in my state anyway. The nurse must have 2 years of Acute care experience to be considered for critical care. To have the best chance of getting a Critical Care nursing position; the nurse must already have 2 years or more in critical care nursing. The nurse must have the ACLS and the PALS. The nurse must know how to read and interpret 12 lead EKG, know and understand all drips used in ICU, what they are for and what the recommended dosage is. The nurse also must have experience with pts on vents and under sedation. I can't speak for every state out there. But, I can most certainly speak for mine. No nurse manager is going to train a new nurse for ICU. In fact, here you will have a difficult time finding a Med-Surg manager willing to train a new nurse. The health care organizations here do not want to train. That costs too much money and takes too much time. So, they want nurses with good experience who can hit the floor running without any added training.
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    [quote=burns636;4747055]No. I'm sorry. Not true...in my state anyway. The nurse must have 2 years of Acute care experience to be considered for critical care. To have the best chance of getting a Critical Care nursing position; the nurse must already have 2 years or more in critical care nursing. The nurse must have the ACLS and the PALS. The nurse must know how to read and interpret 12 lead EKG, know and understand all drips used in ICU, what they are for and what the recommended dosage is. The nurse also must have experience with pts on vents and under sedation. I can't speak for every state out there. But, I can most certainly speak for mine. No nurse manager is going to train a new nurse for ICU.quote]

    *** I totally under stand if you are not comfortable saying what state you live in but I would really appreciate knowing what state it is that has such backwards and old fashioned ideas about ICU nurses. I wonder is it strictly about money or is evidenced based practice not valued in your state?
    CoffeeGeekRN likes this.
  10. 0
    I want to go into the ICU but at my hospital, you have to work nights in the ICU to start with. I don't do nights well. Can anyone suggest a way to get ICU experience without having to do nights? Even the cardiac unit on my floor hires on to nights first. Thanks. (I've been on a med/surg floor for 4.5 yrs.)


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