How to get the best experience out of the ICU?

  1. Hello,

    I am a third semester nursing student in an ADN program. I am currently a nurse extern at a hospital where I am almost guaranteed a position in the ICU. The ICU at this hospital is a catch-all unit; it isn't separated into SICU/MICU. It is a level II trauma hospital if that makes any difference.

    Once I complete my RN-BSN bridge, I am planning to go on to graduate school so I want to get the best experience during my time in the ICU as possible. I want to learn how to confidently care for any patient that is thrown at me. I know this will come with time but I am wondering if you all have tips for how to expose myself to a variety of patients and how to learn as much as possible.

    Thank you!
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    About thehyruler

    Joined: Feb '17; Posts: 19; Likes: 3
    from TX , US
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

    4 Comments

  3. by   walkerrn2015
    hey there! I sent you a PM before I saw this lol!!

    good to be straight into an ICU, I am from a medicine ICU which has been fine for CRNA schools, I have gotten interviews with this experience. I was told to stay in adult ICU, however peds works too! But I like adults

    Deff get that bridge to BSN! keep up a good GPA like you have!!! once you have had a year of experience, start studying for your GRE, I took a Kaplan course that helped me a lot! youll get there!
  4. by   walkerrn2015
    and after you have been a nurse for a year look into taking your CCRN, I think that helped me stand out, my school didn't require it, but most CRNA schools do, just get it anyways That's the time line that I worked on when I was wanting to be a CRNA!
  5. by   marienm, RN, CCRN
    As a student, I'd suggest you use the ICU time to refine your assessment skills...you're going to hear lung sounds you haven't heard before, see +4 edema, hear and see different cardiac rhythms, etc. Review what you have studied and put the pieces together...is this patient acidotic because of their respiratory status or their metabolic status? What are the sequelae of this? (How is their potassium? Has their cardiac rhythm changed? How much urine are they making? Why?) How are you trying to fix the patient? (Intubate? Bicarb gtt? Dialysis? Insulin gtt?) What are the risks of those treatments?

    It's a good chance to work on skills, too, so try to get your hands on anything you haven't done before (that you're allowed to do).

    Since you hope to work at this hospital, of course you should try to make a good impression and learn as much as you can about the place. If you do get a job there, it'll be easier when you already know where to find the pager # for respiratory, or where the Cath lab is, or whatever. Listen to what the staff tell you about working there, though. Do they like it? Do they hate their manager? Do their schedules get arbitrarily changed? Do they have enough ancillary staff? I hope you have a great time, of course, but it's a good chance to see whether it feels like a good fit for you.
  6. by   PaSSiNGaS
    Be proactive in your learning. Nursing school does not teach you everything, the ICU will not teach you everything, so you have to be proactive and do extra work if you really want to excel. Get good physiology and pharmacology books and read on your own at home. Try to get the sickest ICU patients that you can and when you don't get those assignments then go over to the RNs who are taking care of these patients and learn from them. Find mentors in your unit that can help you and show you the ropes.

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