thanks for the replies so far! I'm still weighing the options. I hate to disappoint the NM who went to bat for me, but in the end I supposed I have to look out for me, and what's best for me.
As far as the ICU, it took me several months of hell before I finally felt like I was fitting in and that was a tech, working on day shift. I haven't worked with the night shifters at all, only shadowed for 4 hours one night with a nurse who was on her way out- she had given her 2 weeks notice shortly before. She was unhappy on the unit herself, and was transferring to the endo unit.
I don't know about parking costs at the uni, I guess I do need to find that out. It's also about 10 miles further each way to commute, which isn't much. Luckily, even though it's in the inner city, the NOC shift gets to park in the visitor's garage, and there's a pedway to the hospital so we don't have to worry about walking the streets (terrible neighborhood) at dark. Also, no shoveling! YAY!
The .60 is only the base rate difference. The weekend diff at the ICU is 1.05, and there isn't a weekend diff at all at the Uni hospital.
When I shadowed at the Uni, it was on the shift I would work, and was also shadowing the RN who would be my preceptor. He was terrific, and had a lot to do with my reaction to the unit. The other charge on NOC is the one I interviewed with (their NM allows the charge to decide new hires) and she hugged me both before and after our interview. She made mention that she would go to bat for me with HR to see if there was any way to mitigate the pay difference- possibly with a sign-on bonus. I can't count on that, so I haven't let that play into my decision yet.
Of course, if (when?) I make up my mind to accept the uni offer, I will write the letter to the ICU NM, and thank her for her believing in me.
I went to the ICU to do some year-end safety modules last weekend, and while I was there (on the day shift, where I knew everyone), only 3 people even spoke to me! I felt the dread building even though I was only there for 2 and a half hours. That is what really instigated this whole change of heart. Those were the RN's and techs I had worked with, and even they didn't see fit to acknowledge my prescence. ugh.
Keep the advice coming. I'm taking notes, and certainly my ben franklin is leaning toward the uni job.