My girlfriend is graduating as a BSN this May and we are looking for her first job. That being said, her goal is to become a flight nurse, which we understand takes 3 - 5 years or so of ER/ICU experience. As a new grad we've heard that it is very hard to get into one of these departments without at least a year of experience on a Med Surg or Tele floor.
We've also wondered whether or not it would be more beneficial to do an ER or Critical Care Nurse Residency Program for her first year out of school. The hope with this is that it'd make it easier to get hired in an ER or ICU afterwards.
Any thoughts would be appreciated. We're just trying to figure out which path would be best for moving towards her goal. Also, if you could share any tips for either option that'd be appreciated!
Thanks for reading!
If your girlfriend can get a position after graduating in a residency program (ICU is preferable) , that would be a good start. Otherwise , getting any position in a hospital/ acute care is where most people start out. Fewer and fewer hospitals are taking new graduates into specialized areas as the learning curve is just too steep and there tends to be a high failure rate which results in costly financial losses when nurses "do not work out" . She should apply for any and every position in hospital/ acute care nursing that comes up. Moving into a specialty can occur at a later stage.
Not a flight nurse but do work critical care. since critical care is required to be a flight nurse, her best bet is to apply for as many critical care new grad residency programs as she can as these give her the best chance of being hired into critical care as well as offering a better chance of success due to (usually) longer orientation tailored to new grads.
The better programs, along with the typical orientation on the unit with a preceptor, will also provide classroom and sometimes skill/sim lab education to help a new grad get up to speed on some of the specialized critical care skills like vents/artificial airways, tele strips, drips, ICP monitoring/ drains etc.
Sounds like I have a lot in common with your girlfriend! From what I've read, ICU experience is required, I plan on getting there by any means possible !
I'm an EMT and EMT-Instructor currently attending nursing school. There are a couple hospitals where I live (I live in NJ) whom have taken the incentive to allow those who are graduating a nursing program with EMS experience to bypass the floor and go directly to the ER. It has worked out very well for the hospitals financially. Some nurses are just not cut to be the ER Nurse and it helps mitigate the risk of taking a floor nurse and throwing them into the ER with someone who has worked in an emergency setting before.
Hospitals try not to hire brand new grads into ICU. It's just a lot to take in working in ICU with no experience. Her best bet is ER because they're so desperate that they'll hire new grads. With the acute care experience in ED, she can transfer to ICU later. Flight RN like you to have ICU and ER experience plus trauma.
Even if the ads say ED or ICU, unless the service you are looking at has mostly scene work, go ICU. After 20 years as a paramedic and 8 years as an ED nurse, it was a steep learning curve to proficiency in a mostly inter facility (as most are) service. Not that it couldn't be done, it just required a ton of work on my part.
Best of luck!
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