I encouraged GNs to go for their dreams. I believe that working ER or ICU is as much a personality fit as one of capability, knowledge, and desire. I have precepted GNs as well as floor and ICU RNs, and I can say without hesitation that there is no magical way to determine who will do well and who will not. Some people are going to do well and some won't. This is where personality comes into the equation. If a 15 year veteran of an ICU can't handle the ER does that make them a bad nurse? NO. I know a lot of great ER nurses that would blow chunks as a floor or ICU RN because it just isn't their personality (and I'm not even going to get into burn units, L&D, NICU, etc).
That being said, I disagree with the old mindset that you have to have a certain number of years as a medsurg nurse before you can do anything. For some people, I would agree, but not all. I was a ER tech going through nursing school, and then stayed there when I graduated (level 1 trauma/burn, STEMI, CVA center that sees 90,000+ per year). If you really want it, you can achieve it. You must listen to your preceptors though, they will guide you through orientation and give you feedback. If, in the end, they do not feel that you are ready, then be willing to look at other options. If you are determined enough, have a strong desire, and apply yourself, you can be very successful! I am who I am today because I had a strong will and desire to be the best nurse I could be. I always looked for the sickest patients. The advice I give to everyone I precept is, "don't be afraid to take any pt, but know when you are over your head and ask for help." This is the only way to learn. What frustrates me is hearing someone say, "I don't want to take that pt, they are too sick, I won't know what to do." That's a guaranteed ticket to dragging that nurse into that room so they can get exposure, get over their fear, and begin to learn how to take care of that pt.
Aaron RN BSN CEN CCRN