Whats it like in your Trauma ICU?

  1. Hi everyone!

    Im a new grad that just recently accepted my first position starting in a trauma intensive care unit. At my hospital where ill be working, the floor ill be on is split between a trauma ICU and a Cardio-Thoracic ICU. Which means Im guessing that I will possibly float between the two units. I very excited to start! I have to admit that throughout nursing school and after I have developed a real love for the cardiovascular system. However I always imagined myself working with the injured and am excited to begin training as a Trauma nurse.

    I have searched online and throughout these forums and while I see alot of information about CV nursing, and Neuro nursing there isnt a whole lot about what a Trauma ICU nurse does. Is working on a Trauma ICU much different than Neuro ICU? Will I still get alot of experience with Cardio and other systems? I understand I will see MVAs, GSWs, head traumas/hemorrhages and there is alot of neuro involved. But I would like to hear first hand from those working on a trauma unit - what type of equipment and lines do you work with often, what type of procedures are you doing often at the bedside, common meds used/titrated, and just some general info on what its like in a Trauma ICU.

    Im very excited and eager to learn. I just completed an EKG course and a critical care course prior to getting accepted and Im working on reading the ICUFaqs book (I purchased the hardcopy) and the AACN Critical Care book.

    As I mentioned my first love is cardio, I'm happy to have been given this opportunity and gain employment as a nurse let alone in an ICU (God has been good!) but I also would be interested in transferring possibly to the CTICU after maybe a year - maybe this wont be so hard as its with the same manager and same floor ill be working on...thoughts? I'm hoping that I will get cross trained to both units.

    Any other tips for a new grad and info you can give about your unit is SO much appreciated! Ill be starting in 2-4 weeks and I know there are BIG challenges ahead. I want to keep using this time in between as a good head start, as much as possible.

    I look forward to your thoughts...thanks SO MUCH!

  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   link51411
    bottom line is. i have not worked trauma icu. however, i did get alot of trauma pts in my NICU simply because if you hit your head in a MVC chances are you also caused alot of trauma to the rest of your body. the lines depend on the hospital more so than the unit. get ready for burn pts. the one thing i never really got a chance to learn, the weeping fluid, not my thing. but NEW NURSE, MAKE SURE THEY PREPARE YOU WELLLLLLLL. for example, IF THEY HAVE ART LINES, KNOW IT WELL. i was lucky to be at a place where they placed my in front of the charge nurse desk with HARD pts to make sure i knew what i was doing and they always helped me. but most of all ENJOY IT. you will learn so much more at a good hospital than you ever did in nursing school that will give you a whole new perspective on live.
  4. by   whimsical_1
    I'm currently in my 5th week of orientation in a trauma ICU. I LOVE it!! It is very challenging, but I agree, make sure you get trained well!!! I ask hundreds of questions every day. I carry a notebook and write down the essentials (for example: things to do/know for an ischemic stroke, how to zero an a-line, what the diff vent setting mean). We get a lot of MVC pts, neuro - stroke, DKA, respiratory failure, some cardiac - but typically it is in conjunction with something else. A-lines, vents, ventriculostomies (<- this was very new to me). Drips - Levo, Neo, Vasopressin, Propofol, Dopamine, Dobutamie, Epi... my preceptor quizzes me everyday on the MAX dose of each, the indication, adverse reactions, etc. Hope this helps!
  5. by   strawberryheartRN
    Yes it does! Thanks. I should be starting my orientation within the next few weeks.
  6. by   traumasurgRN
    I have been working as a Nurse Extern ( this is what our Hospital calls their Student Nurses) in a level 2 Trauma Surgical ICU. I love my unit, and I could not think of anywhere else I would rather work. I will be starting new grad orientation in 2 weeks. Our unit is very busy, as we get all Trauma and Neurosurgical patients. We also get general surgical patients who had complications in the OR or if they were unable to wean of the vent in PACU. Right now we are only a 16 bed unit, however, we will soon be moving to a 24 bed unit, with 20 stepdown beds outside of the actual unit. Working as an Extern before graduating nursing school was the BEST thing I could have done. I have already learned a great deal of info before I start orientation. I know there will be tons left to learn, but the nurses in my unit are amazing and very willing to teach new grads. I am sure you will learn a lot and develop great assessment skills.
  7. by   ICUPrincessNurse
    Trauma will see everything. You never know what a patients past medical history is when they come rolling in as a trauma. If they had any kind of steering wheel impact- expect cardiac implications. Expect kidney problems. Expect lung problems. Expect to have recovery compounded by ortho injuries and set backs and infections. This is why I love trauma. You have to be ready for EVERYTHING. You have to know what to do when they move past "hurt" into "sick".