Am I on the right track if I want to eventually work in SICU?

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    I am a VERY new nurse. Still in my orientation on the Med/Surg floor I just started on. The floor I took the job on is a predominantly surgical floor. We see mostly ortho, gyn, urology, and CA related surgeries (we are the only floor in my hospital that admins chemo, so we get all of the oncology patients as well, surgical or not).

    I am really liking the job so far. I worked on this floor throughout nursing school as an aide, so things are going fairly smoothly for me. My main goal is to get into some area of critical care eventually, and i prefer surgical patients over medical, so i think i would really like to get into a SICU.

    Am I doing it right? If I work where I am for a few years, would I be a good candidate to get a job in a SICU? Is there anything else I can do in that time to make myself more qualified?

    I work at a smaller campus of a large network of hospitals. my campus has one smaller general ICU, while the larger main campus has a MICU, SICU, CVSICU, ICCU, Neuro ICU, Trauma ICU, and possibly some more..

    From what I gather, the smaller ICU at our campus does mostly medical, but we do send some of our patients over there if they go south after surgery.. would it be better for me to go from my unit, to the smaller ICU, then try to get into SICU?

    Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!
  2. 5 Comments so far...

  3. 2
    Honestly don't wait a couple of years, I would suggest get a year on the floor you are at then start applying as soon as you can. I also would not recommend attempting to get into a smaller ICU first, I would attempt to get right into the SICU. Reason being is that you really don't want to have to go through 2 different orientations ie....you might not use as much equipment in the small ICU or utilize many gtts, swans, etc...whereas if you started out in the SICU then you would get exposed to a lot of equipment the first time around.

    The other reason, which I might get chastized for, is you don't want to pick up bad habits along the way in which your ICU preceptor will have to address. I've seen it too many times. That is why some new nurses get the ICU job over experienced nurses. They sometimes are easier to train.

    Again, go for what you want. They isn't any reason not too. I started out in the ICU right after school and worked for 7 years in a Surgical Trauma Neuro as did my wife. You will hear a lot of nurses say that you should get 1-2 years experience on the floor prior to going to the ICU----honestly that's a bunch of BS...Being a floor nurse doesn't make you a better ICU nurse just as being a ICU nurse doesn't make you a better floor nurse. Two different styles of nursing and each cannot survive without the other.

    Good luck with your decision. ICU nursing is great and rewarding. Large learning curve at first but once you get the basics down you'll be ok to take any patient. I'd suggest getting your ACLS/PALS/TNCC prior to applying. It would allow your application to be stronger.
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    a couple of my classmates went right into ICU, but i thought it would be too overwhelming for me at first. heck, im overwhelmed in med/surg, but i guess thats typical. i want to get the hang of caring for not so critical patients before i jump into caring for people on the brink of death. i will definitely look into getting ACLS, PALS and TNCC. My floor already requires ACLS so I'll be getting that soon anyway. My floor also gets quite a few heparin and insulin drips, so at least i can get to know them a bit. its not really the same as someone in a critical care area, but i think my med/surg experience will be of some value... i hope!

    thanks for the advice!
  5. 1
    Quote from ashleyisawesome
    a couple of my classmates went right into ICU, but i thought it would be too overwhelming for me at first. heck, im overwhelmed in med/surg, but i guess thats typical. i want to get the hang of caring for not so critical patients before i jump into caring for people on the brink of death. i will definitely look into getting ACLS, PALS and TNCC. My floor already requires ACLS so I'll be getting that soon anyway. My floor also gets quite a few heparin and insulin drips, so at least i can get to know them a bit. its not really the same as someone in a critical care area, but i think my med/surg experience will be of some value... i hope!

    thanks for the advice!
    Not a problem...Hint of advice though. In all honesty, ICU patients are NOT all on the brink of death, many of them are there to PREVENT bad things from happening to them. I might even say that "most" of them do just fine and eventually get transferred out, and I come from a Level 1 trauma center that has 5 ICU's. As a new nurse, yes, you will be overwhelmed but over time that will subside and as a new ICU nurse you will be overwhelmed and that too will subside over time. Great that you already have ACLS. Your med/surg experience will be great. There were many times that i had not been exposed to something in the ICU that the floor nurses dealt with on a daily basis. Ask an ICU nurse the last time they had to discharge a patient=clueless!!

    Good luck
    ashleyisawesome likes this.
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    Agree with the previous posters. Do your one year there, and then go to the SICU. Working in your unit you'll see a variety of patients, which will help solidify your decision. Maybe after a year, you'll decide you like OB patients and want to work in high risk OB. I work with both surgical and medical ICU patients, and some are very sick, some have the potential to become unstable, and some are pretty stable. Not all are at the brink of death like a PP said.
    ashleyisawesome likes this.
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    Quote from focker14
    I'd suggest getting your ACLS/PALS/TNCC prior to applying. It would allow your application to be stronger.
    That is what I would love to do, work ICU, but down here, experience is desired. I have ACLS, PALS, what is TNCC? I never heard of that?


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