ICU position immediately after graduating with BSN

  1. I'm a nursing student in the los angeles area and I have two more years before graduating with my BSN. I want to eventually get into nurse anesthesia, and I know that in order to apply to nurse anesthesia school, I need at least one year experience in the ICU. I'd prefer to get hired for an ICU position as soon as I graduate with my BSN (as opposed to wasting a year working on the floor before getting into the ICU). I have my EMT license as well, and I would like to know if working a few years as an EMT while in school will help me at all with getting hired into an ICU critical care position straight after graduation? Are there any other things I can do to help my chances ( such as working a CNA position)? PLEASEl, any advice would help! I would really appreciate it!
  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   GraduateNurse89
    You will not be wasting a year on the floor. Going straight into the ICU is a big jump straight out of school. EMT experience or not
  4. by   mlee11
    I am a new nurse grad, and I just got hired on at a CICU. I completed a optional summer externship (350 hours) and a required clinical-preceptor course (150 hours) on this same unit. So I spent 500 hours with a preceptor on this unit and this experience is what got me the job. While I was on the unit, I helped out other nurses whenever I could and I was always trying to learn something so they saw that I was really motivated. Some of them gave the nurse manager good recommendations for me and that was another big part of why I got this position.
    If your school offers an extern/intern program, I would definitely recommend you do it in the ICU where you would want to work! If you can't do that then a CNA position would be better than nothing. However, in the unit I work they do not have CNAs so just find out what job opportunities are available for a student nurse. Just show the nurses on that unit that you are motivated and they can trust you, and it never hurts to get in good with the nurse manager.
    Good luck!
  5. by   Eiano
    I would think EMT experience would help land a job in ER more easily than ICU... You have a way to go, 2 years. Grades are just as important... as is passing that little test that actually let's you get a license to work.

    If anything, get a job as a aide on an ICU you'd like to work on, this way you can boast about having experience drawing off lines, transducing, documenting...
  6. by   llbCCRN
    I agree. The best way to get a job as a new grad in an ICU is to get work experience on that unit. Get a position as tech/CNA. Apply NOW to get a CNA job and start working ASAP. Remember, hospitals look at internal candidates before looking at external candidates. Also, do everything you can in school to make an impressive resume (honor societies, greek, awards, dean's list, professional organizations, etc).

    Hope that helps!

  7. by   RhondaIndyRN
    I truly believe the time working on med/surg to get one's feet wet is not a waste of time. A new nurse gets a chance to see "the cause and effect" of illnesses and their treatment. Don't short yourself. I agree with the above writer that EMT work is more geared for ER and not ICU. If ICU is what you want, then you need to see if you can get a hospital position as a tech (student nurse) in that unit. Usually hospitals take students after one full year of clinicals.

  8. by   PMFB-RN
    Your desire to go directly into ICU is fine. there are some very old fashioned ideas, not supported by evidenced based practice, that says in order to be a good ICU nurse you must have med-surg experience. This is of course false, provided the ICU makes the investment in properly training a new grad. Many hospitals have nurse residency programs for new grads going directly into ICU or other speciality areas. The one at my hospital is 9 months long and is very successful, though as an instructor and preceptor in the program I may be biased.
    EMT isn't going to be helpful. The best thing you could do is go to work in the ICU you want to be an nurse in as a CNA or tech. This way the nurse manager will already be familiar with your work ethic and hiring you as an RN will be less risky. I suggest you seek out nurse residency programs for ICU and then seek to work in one of those units as an aid. Also if you have an opportunity to do an internship in an ICU that would be helpful.
    The one way to guarantee you never get hired into an ICU is to express your desire to go to CRNA school. No nurse manager wanted to spend all that time and money training an ICU nurse only to have them leave as soon as they are becoming useful. It is for this exact reason that the SICU where I work will no longer hire new grad BSNs into the nurse residency for the SICU. BTW 1 year of ICU may be required but you will find you will need two-three years to be compative, of course there are exceptions.
  9. by   Blackczar22
    What I did when I was going to school was working in the ER as a Nurse Tech for 2 solid years full time before graduating. This is in Washington State though. If Califonia has a Nurse Tech licence then get it and use it in any department you want. The Nurse Tech Licence lets Nursing students practice what they learn in school in clinical settings under the supervision of a RN of course. And those nurses are always eager to show or let you do you something cool . With my Nurse tech experience from the ED i had learnt the skills i needed for any unit for a beginning RN and I only applied to 3 Level 2 trauma center's ICU's and I got all three jobs cos of my background and had the choice of picking the place that suits Goodluck in school and whatever u decide to do may it be CNA or Nurse Tech.
  10. by   RDavis, RN-BSN
    It is a very controversial topic of a new grad going directly into an ICU. But Im here to tell you that I did 6 years ago, was successful, now work in a very demanding ICU as a charge nurse, and am applying to the CRNA program now. The reasons I was hired directly into the ICU were, I took an optional ICU course in nursing school while my classmates were at the beach, and I did an externship (an internship at a local hospital I did on my own). I was hired into that ICU that I completed my externship on. Good luck!
  11. by   Piglet08
    Well, I wish you success, and hope you land exactly where you can do the most good. But really, I have to say, after 14 years as a nurse, ten in Critical Care, every person I met who went straight into ICU from school, whatever their previous training, had problems in their critical thinking and prioritization, and of course, no "nursing instincts". I can't think of a better crucible in which to acquire all of those traits than med-surg. One year in ICU wouldn't do as much to teach you those things as a year in med-surg, or a fast-paced tele floor.

    A year on med-surg would not be wasted. You'd learn more than you realize.
  12. by   Csly
    I recently graduated from an associates program and was offered the night position in ICU. I think if your desire is to be a CRNA, I would recommend going straight into ICU. I spoke to a nurse with 2 years med-surg experience who transferred to the intensive care unit. She said it was like she was a brand new nurse again. The patients and illnesses that she encounters are so different. Since you still have a couple more years before you graduate, maybe you can get a cna position on the ICU so that you become familiar with the unit.
  13. by   Rebecca Edwards
    New grads should not go directly into the ICU. Suggestion: work on the step down unit for one year then transfer to the ICU. The floor is not a waste...Twenty years ago after six months on the floor I was thrown into the TICU(Trauma Intensive Care Unit) at Brook Army Medical Center as a Medic/LPN...thank God I had so much experience around me!! I have been a RN-BSN for ten years now and continue to work in the ICU. A patients life is more important than our goals. Good luck with your journey.
  14. by   PMFB-RN
    New grads should go directly into the ICU. Time spent on the floor is worse than wasted, it can be harmful. Patients lives are more important than our own goals so do the right thing by them and properly train new grads to be ICU nurses.
    Obviously when we speak of new grads going directly into the ICU, something like a real 4-9 month nurse residency program followed by a mentoring program.