What exactly is PCU?

  1. Just wondering....I'm currently seeking employment on a Progressive Care Unit. In the hospital I work in, the PCU is like a cardiac/med-tele med-surg unit. The nurses sometime take up to 6 pt, the same that I do on the surgical unit I work on. I have an interview this week on a PCU unit so I just want to get an idea of what the unit is and what kind of questions to expect on the interview.


    Thanks all for any input.
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   CABG patch kid
    Unfortunately, the name of a unit in one hospital can mean something totally different in another hospital. The progressive care unit around here is like a tele/stepdown with three patients per nurse; vital signs Q2 hours, continuous monitoring, etc. I can't see our PCU patients being a 6:1 ratio, then again, this is California and we follow our strict ratios.

    The best thing to do with any position is to ask the manager what the typical patient poplulation is like and what the ratios are, as well as if you have any help from CNAs, unit clerks, etc. Good luck on your interview!!!
  4. by   Eirene
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]Tele/step-down. We get a lot of cardiac caths, r/o CP, post-pacers, etc. We share the same protocols as ICU and work autonomously. Our ratio's never go above 4:1. We are required to be ACLS certified.
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]Know your CP protocols, HF orders, what to do if pumonary edema hits.
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]We are the busiest unit in the hospital with the exception of the E.R. I love my unit!
  5. by   SteffersRN87
    it depends on where you work... our hospital has several PCU's... we have a medical PCU, surgical PCU, cardiac PCU and they are all basically telemetry units... ratios are 4 to 5 on days and 6 on nights...
  6. by   HURN
    Thanks for the input you all. In my hospital our PCU is like a cardiac stepdown pretty much how Eirene described it. The hospital I'm interviewing for PCU is more like our ICU here in my hospital.
  7. by   WickedRedRN
    Our PCU is like an ICU stepdown. Too sick for the med-surg floors, not sick enough for the ICU. Our ratios are 2:1, all beds are monitored, staff are trained the same as ICU. Many nurses go from there to an ICU.
  8. by   HURN
    Okay so my next question is what are my chances of landing this position when I have no experience with cardiac/telemetry/step-down/pre-ICU pts? I'm 1yr plus out of school and work on a surgical unit (which lately has been the medical dumping unit). My time management/organization skills are my weaknesses. I've registered for ACLS and plan to break open my med-surg book and study the cardiac/resp. units again for refreshers...heck I may even break out the drug cards I made in school. I really want this job so I'm trying to be proactive and do what I think I should be doing to prepare.
  9. by   Wade21
    I work on PCU and it was what would be considered a stepdown from ICU, but, it has since mored to another floor which holds more beds. Since this move, I find myself being assigned more pt.s who are more suited for MED/SURG. Is this the way hospitals are going? Did the hospital make this move to charge the pt.s more for being on PCU, rather than being on MED/SURG? I've noticed that since PCU's more to this floor, that the MED/SURG unit has less pt.s!
  10. by   Clint A
    Work on a Pulmonary and Acute PCU floor. We have a 4:1 ratio. What separate us from a Med/Surg floor is that all our beds have bedside monitors and we do some cardiac drips such as cardizem, dopamine and nitro per our hospital policies and protocol and we take care of patients on ventilators that are stable enough to be out of ICU.
  11. by   tcvnurse
    I work PCU, we do cardiothoracic surgery, take day 1 CABG, fresh thoracotomies, VATS, Nissens etc. Patients unstable, usually 1:4 ratio, but part of unit is staffed differently at 1:3 for ICU step down. We ARE busiest unit in hospital excepting ER. And we make very very good nurses out of new grads. Good luck.
  12. by   Twinmom06
    I'm currently an aide on our PCU unit which is an ICU step down - we have a separate heart hospital that keeps the CABG's, caths etc...we take everything from trachs and long term vents to post surgical anything - our ratio is 1:2 or 1:3 depending on acuity - and our charge takes 1:2...we have 13 beds and are also VERY busy...we never have an empty bed for more than 6 hours!

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