How to get into ICU nursing...

  1. [font=Comic Sans MS]Hello and thanks for reading..am new to this website but learning fast. Am looking for advice, guidelines suggestions as to how to get started in the area of ICU nursing. Currently am finishing my ADN and have been an LPN for nearly 15 yrs. Have ACLS PALS and did a 13 week tour in a CCU as a traveling nurse..and boy did I get hooked....no pun intended. Any information from the expericenced in this areana ..would be greatly appreciated. Looking for info on to find hospitals that at offer preceptorships or internships and such..and does being an LPN for years help get the foot or at least toe in the door....
    [font=Comic Sans MS]thanks in advance for info... take care...
    [font=Comic Sans MS]nursing boots....
    Last edit by nursingboots on Apr 4, '04 : Reason: grammer
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   ratchit
    I wouldn't worry about getting into ICU. Many ICUs are so shorthanded they are hiring new grads. That is a topic that has been beaten to death, and I certainl don't want to restart it here, but if they will take a new grad, I think they would love to have someone with experience apply. (there is a theory that hiring new grads is better because they don't have to have bad habits trained out of them, but I have never seen that in practice myself.)

    Call the ICU nurse managers of the hospital around you and tell them your situation- ask about their critical care training programs. Some are better than others. It should last at least 8 weeks- mine was 12. And it should include both classroom and clinical components. Clinical Educators might also be good resources.

    If you are willing to post what city or region you are in, I'm sure people will post about what critical care training programs are good.
  4. by   Oreo
    Does that 8-12 wks you mentioned is actually the orientation? Or it will be a formal ICU course? Will there be any requirement for selecting staffs to attend the ICU course? Does it related to seniority? Thanks.
  5. by   ratchit
    Quote from Oreo
    Does that 8-12 wks you mentioned is actually the orientation? Or it will be a formal ICU course? Will there be any requirement for selecting staffs to attend the ICU course? Does it related to seniority? Thanks.

    8 to 12 weeks of orientation. Paired with a preceptor, not used as staff. At the start, you should be shadowing the preceptor only, then you should take on more responsibility gradually until close to the end when the trainee should be in charge of the patients with the preceptor shadowing the newbie with no other responsibilities. My training program even tried hard to schedule me on the same shifts as my preceptor for weeks after the official training was over so I would have someone I trusted around to bounce things off of without being worried about looking stupid. My preceptor was great- even when I was off orientation, she would come grab me if something interesting was going on or would stop by to say "hi" if I was in a situation she knew I didn't feel comfortable with. I got all this even though my experience was the closest to ICU in my training group- I had stepdown experience with drips and stable vents and I had been a traveler, used to jumping into new situations. Some people even got extra time- we had a couple medsurg RNs who had never seen a cardiac monitor- they were great, they just had a bit more to learn and got some extra time. (We had a couple that didn't make it, too- it wasn't for them.)

    The first few weeks were 2 8 hour days in class and 2 12 hour days on the unit. After the formal classes were over, they split our schedules up and brought us onto nights 1/3 of the class at a time. We were purely on orientation until our time was up. The last week or two, the preceptors of the trainees that were closest to coming off orientation would take a patient of their own on top of supervising the trainee if it was necessary. (We were a level 1 trauma center- sometimes things just happen. <g>)

    I have worked in other hospitals that were training new ICU nurses and have been disappointed to say the least. Too many use trainees as staff, or spend too little time in class...

    Insist on proper training. Ask about how the class is set up. The transition to ICU can be so overwhelming- get all the help you can the first time. Seniority will depend on the hospital set up- it might play a role but I'm sure the manager and educators have a say, too.
  6. by   Oreo
    Thank you very much for your detailed explanation!

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