How do I become a critical care nurse? - page 4

by mark1973 105,505 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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    Sorry to sound stupid, but when you guys are saying new grads, are you referring to "RN" only or those with their BSN as well? Does having your BSN better your chances even though you may not have all experience? Thanks for any insight!
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    Quote from spring hopeful
    Sorry to sound stupid, but when you guys are saying new grads, are you referring to "RN" only or those with their BSN as well? Does having your BSN better your chances even though you may not have all experience? Thanks for any insight!
    *** There are some hospitals where ADN - BSN is irrelevant. And even a few hospitals like mine that do not hire new grad BSNs into the Critical Care Nurse Residency, ADNs only. However I believe in most areas / hospitals a BSN not only gives you a better chance, it might be the only way as some short sighted hospitals have gone to BSN only hiring for all their RN positions. Many more are "BSN preferred".
    However the BSN is certainly no guarantee and when I say a better chance I mean better than a similarly qualified ADN new grad, not a good chance in general.
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    I'm a new RN graduate and was just offered a position in the ICU. Prior to getting this offer, I have not worked in the hospital or any experience as a CNA. I applied to many positions in a few hospitals and had not received a call for an interview. Luckily, I had a friend who worked in one of the hospital and she gave me contact information for HR. I called HR 3 times before I got my interview (definitely need to be persistent). I interviewed with the unit manager and was asked to go back to shadow a nurse. The idea behind that was so that I got familiar with the unit and the nurses, and the nurses could become familiar with me. I feel that I was able to get the job because I was persistent, repeatedly expressed to them that I was really interested in ICU, and I showed them I'm excited to learn and grow.
    PMFB-RN likes this.
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    Coming from a CNA, pre-nursing student, this is all GREAT information and I really hope many more people out there will keep giving their two cents on becoming an new grad ICU nurse because that's what I am going for. All the input is appreciated in so many ways. Thank you.
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    New grad, in my understanding, means anyone who graduated from nursing school, and it's their 1st job as a nurse. It doesn't discriminate if you have an associate's or bachelor's degree -- just that it's your first job as a nurse.

    I hate to come back with this but I am still having the worst time trying to get into ICU/critical care in general. I don't do well on nights and most of these jobs for 1st-timers in critical care want you to work nights. Does anyone know of any units hiring for days in ICU or other critical care please? Or has anyone traveled and gotten trained in critical care as a traveler? Thanks a lot!
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    Feb 16, '10 by medicalma'am's

    "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. "



    what hospital do you work at. i am in nyc
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    "Quote from ghillbert .

    *** 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. "


    what hospital do you work at. i am in nyc
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    Stephen, I just found your response 3 years later and I am inspired. I start my ADN this fall and I 'm getting my CNA certification throughout June on weekends. I have been volunteering in the E.R. one night a week, but I only help the triage nurse with minor stuff. I'll take what you've written to heart.

    -Sandy
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    i know this is going to sound offensive to many of you new grads and there's really no way around it, but i've never been a strong believer in political correctness. i say what i have to say and let the chips fall where they may, but at least hear me out. the only reason any of you new grads are even being considered for specialty units directly out of school, is because of the nursing shortage. were there adequate staff to fill the slots, iím certain the policies would be as they were 15-20 years ago and all nurses would be required to have several years experience prior to going to work in a specialty unit, and even then they would be required to go through an orientation of at least three weeks and report each and every move they made to their preceptor. each orientee would be required to take written exams about the various iv drugs typically used in the unit, demonstrate the nurseís role in the insertion of a swanz ganz, a-line, central lines, chest tubes, a simple cut down, to cracking a patients chest at the bedside, and anything in between. it isnít just nursing that critical care nurses do. they are also frequently called on to counsel a dying patients family or mediate a disagreement between two or more parties within a family. if all we had to do as nurses was medically oriented, our job would be a piece of cake, but it isnít, and there are so many things that nursing school doesnít prepare you for. it doesnít prepare you to spend the night with a 17-year-old cancer patient who should by all rights should be on the pediatrics floor, but he has spent so much time in the hospital, that he doesnít want to be around the little kids anymore and the administration has granted his request to be moved to the unit. but here it is a couple of days before christmas and shawn is terminal and he knows it. heís requested to cease all but palliative care and has been granted that request as well. most of the staff for the unit has already left for the christmas party and there is but a skeleton crew on and most of them are agency personnel. this particular unit has one area that is open with 28 beds all in a central pit, and there are also some private rooms where the patients wear telemetry units instead of being hardwired to a monitor. i was down the hall and got a call on my radio that shawn was acting up on his monitor and would i go check on him, and i said yes. one of the agency people said they had just helped him into the bathroom and that he was probably okay, it was likely just ectopy, or clutter caused by the leads moving around. in less than the time it took me to get to his room, i already knew that shawn was dead. the rhythm on the monitor wasnít ectopy, but depicted vagal response from shawn being in the bathroom. shawn had a rather large family and i spent the rest of the night with them. it was now christmas eve and they had just lost their son, their brother and a friend, a nephew. a 17-year-old boy who had never had the chance to even begin his life. he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 12 and had put up a good fight, but never really stood a chance. new grads, in my opinion arenít ready in most cases to deal with the complexities of all that critical care patients and their families can present to them. i donít think itís fair to even ask them to take on those responsibilities. in fact, it isnít just me, it used to a thing called the ďnurse practice actĒ which prohibited nurses from doing anything from which they hadnít been adequately prepared, and the typical nursing schools do not prepare the average nurse for working in the common, everyday run of the mill hospital, let alone the critical care setting. once again, you hear it everyday, your real education starts once you leave nursing school and begin your work as a nurse. i am not trying to belittle anyone or put anyone down. those of you who are working in units already, iím sure you are doing a fine job, or your preceptors or nurse managers would have pulled you from the rotation already, because you wouldnít still be in play if you were going to endanger your patients. there are those nurses who have the natural aptitude for caring and they do exceptionally well. i have had the distinct pleasure of working alongside of several of them in my career and one whom iíll never forget, sadly, she passed away herself at the age of 42. what a loss.
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    Yes they hire new grads every time most have to go through internship programs. So do not be discouraged by some of this posts. Big medical centers are doing internships 2X per yr. Best wishes, i personally enjoy new grads cause they have not picked bad habits and are willing to learn.
    FMF Corpsman likes this.


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