Need advice! What kind of unit should I request for fall practicum?

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    The deadline to request placement for our fall practicum (preceptorships) is coming up--this is a 400 hour experience. Prior to the deadline I will not have had any experience in pediatrics, L&D, or ICU. So far I've been on a med-surg neuro unit and in a long-term acute care unit so far for clinicals (they want us to know by May..yikes!).

    My question is: If I'm not sure what I really want to specialize in, what's the best place to request if I want to learn a lot and see a variety of patients? I don't know what kind of unit to request! I'm thinking ICU would be a great place to learn, and would make me marketable to almost any job post-graduation (except for the speciality stuff like L&D/Mother Baby/etc.) --but what about ER? I've also considered the step-down ICU neuro unit since I enjoyed neuro the first semester....just not sure.

    My goal down the road is to become a Family Nurse Practitioner..if that helps at all.

    Looking forward to any advice seasoned nurses or recent grads could provide Thanks!
  2. 5 Comments so far...

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    I was interested in public health, so I did a jail practicum. So interesting!

    I would think med-surg would be good to be able to see many things, or the ER as well (but keep in mind you probably won't see them for very long, you'll just get them stable and move them in the ER).
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    A good large general medical-surgical unit would be best for all-around exposure, especially if you plan on doing FNP eventually. However, most units in teaching hospitals are medical OR surgical, and even have subspecialties within those.

    To be honest, you will learn a lot of useful stuff anywhere. However, I am not sure that your assumption that ICU prepares you for anything is warranted-- I was a critical care nurse for a long time, and med/surg is a totally different trip. The tasks of IVs, physical assessment, meds, dressings, and all are all the same, but the priorities and general tone are surprisingly different. You will not learn to balance a multi-patient load in ICU, either, and that's something if you don't plan to get an ICU job as a new grad (not that most ICUs will even look at a new grad). So overall, I'd go for a big floor with a lot of different kinds of patients, whether medical or surgical (remember, it's perfectly possible that most of them will have more than one thing wrong c them anyway )
    flexiseal likes this.
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    I did my preceptorship in a very busy level 1 trauma ICU. I saw so many things I never did in nursing school, chest tubes, docs opening chest walls at bedside, vents, wounds, ng tubes, starting ivs, etc... It was a perfect experience for me and my learning needs.

    You'll be okay wherever you go but with today's market I would consider a preceptorship on a floor that would possibly hire me as a new grad. Start networking now.

    And just remember that a neuro step down unit will be very specialized, so while you will get good neuro experience, you will miss out on a lot of common problems that patients come into the hospital with. I started off as a new nurse in a Neuro ICU, just speaking from experience.
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    I picked ER for my practicum, but that's also the area I wanted to work in upon graduation, and it's the area I actually did end up getting a job in. It was helpful for me because I saw so much and learned a lot more than I did during clinicals for school. But I think any of those choices (ICU, med-surg, ER) would give you some great experience.
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    Wow thank you all for responding! That really helps. This is going to sound kind of dumb...but what would be considered a 'med-surg' unit then? In the hospital we're at everything is broken down into ortho, neuro, cardiac, etc. from what I know so far. Should I ask for just a general med-surg floor? It is a very large teaching hospital so maybe that's why things are broken down into specialties.

    Again, thanks for the response!


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