PCT/nursing student in need of career advice-scared of pigeon hole

  1. Hi, I am having a mental dilemma because I'm worried about the future of my career in nursing after I graduate nursing school next year.

    I have been working on a PCT on a med-surg/ortho unit for nearly 1 year now. Furthermore, I have just started my 2nd semester of nursing school. My manager is very supportive of my school schedule, even making me PRN in hopes that I will work there as a nurse when I graduate. The problem is that I don't think I want to work in med-surg. I feel a little burnt out and I'm not even a nurse yet! I admire all the sorts of things I see on this floor. We get basically everyone and I can't say that I haven't seen it all. However, sometimes, we are shortstaffed or simply the workload is too much to the point where it's hard for teamwork to happen. I consider myself a good PCT but I see how stressed the nurses are when they have really horrible assignments (6+ patients sometimes-3 of them may be total care).

    I am leaning towards cardiac or even ICU, but many nurses have told me that experience would be really good before moving into ICU. I have some nurses told me not to even go into medsurg or at least not that floor after I graduate because it's "too much". I don't want to call ICU boring( excuse my ignorance)

    After reflection, I guess my problem is not the actual work. I find it all quite fascinating, but the ratio. Our turnover is pretty high, but we do have a few experienced nurses(20+ years) left.

    So, I guess my question is this? Would I be burning bridges if I decided not to take a position on that floor, if offered. I never signed any contract to work there when I graduate, but I would like a recommendation if possible should I decide to apply elsewhere. I would hate my experience to go to waste if the place that I applied at decides to call my job and my job doesn't give them a good reference.

    Does being a med-surg PCT make me valuable in the eyes of employers, particularly those in cardiac or ICU or even ER ( for some reason, I feel like I would do well in the ER, since our med-surg seems like one at times at the pace it's going).

    And I am aware that jobs are hard to come by, but I am just trying to see what exactly I need to do secure a desired position when I graduate.

    Thank you so much!!!
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    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 57; Likes: 59


  3. by   sunnybabe
    Oh, I also wanted to add that some nurses have told me not to go into med-surg because they feel stuck in it and they can't get out to change specialties because most of the specialities are hiring new grads.
  4. by   SionainnRN
    Look at what the hospitals around you are hiring for. If the have new grad positions for ICU then go for it. I started out as a new grad in the trauma ICU.
  5. by   jadelpn
    I agree with the PP. If there are new grad programs in the specialty of your choice, I would go for it. Otherwise, get a good year of Med Surg under your belt, then begin to explore other options by seeing exactly what you need to be in your specialty of choice--some, not all but some ICU's will want both Med Surg and ER experience first. But after your first year, start inquiring about what is needed--that way you will know for sure.

    Being a PCT is not easy, nor is it the same as being a nurse on that unit. It can get discouraging. And you will be a nurse in your own groove and practice, so your experience may be different than theirs.

    Good luck!
  6. by   tainted1972
    I worked as a PCA ( same thing as a PCT) for 3 years, I quit so I could go to school full time.. i have since graduated and despite my experience on a very busy, Med surg/tele unit.... I have not recieved ANY phone calls from any hospital in my area.. So based on my experience... stay put.
    Hospitals want you to have experience as a Nurse not as a tech. You are very fortunate to have a job lined up already.
  7. by   amarilla
    Hmm...I suppose much depends on where you live and if new grad jobs are available on other floors or in other facilities. I graduated a few years ago and was in the same position as OP; I worked on a very heavy general surg floor through school and was unofficially expected to take a job there upon graduation. I took extra hours in the float pool to try out other floors, but ended up accepting the position as I was too afraid to be out of work with no references as a new grad in this area (metro NYC.)

    I stayed on that floor and worked my behind off for two years. I thought I'd seen it all as a tech there and on float, but it really is so much different to be a nurse on the floor and be the one responsible for anticipating and carrying out interventions on your patients. I learned a tremendous amount but ratios of up to 10 patients really burned me up.

    I'll agree that it can be difficult to get *out* of med-surg once you're on the floor, though you do learn so much. I thought that with a year of experience, I'd be able to transfer but found many jobs wanted 2+ years med-surg minimum to move into a specialty. I spent the extra time and left eight months later for the ED. It was a great move but honestly not one I would've wanted to make sooner. The ED is much more challenging than I'd thought and an entirely different mindset than the floors. When they say it's not for everyone, they mean it! JME.
  8. by   sunnybabe
    Thanks for your advice. I am going to stay put where I am and be the best PCT I can be while figuring out where my heart lies in the end. If I can't figure it out by then, then I'll stay in med-surg. At least, I'll have a job.