I recently interviewed for an internship in a large medical ICU. This interview left me extremely exited and along with that anticipation, some true dread. As a soon-to-be graduate of an ADN program with a B.S. in psych and history, and without prior [registered] nursing experience (other than that gained in school) - I need some advice from some nurses who began their careers in this manner. How did you handle the change, and what advice can [you] give me (should I be fortunate enough to be offered the position)?
Mar 9, '04
I don't have ICU experience but I work with new nurses. You can do it if you have a good preceptor and the facility has a reasonable training program. Ask about those. All new grads are nervous, no matter which dept. they end up in, so that is normal. And I hope you always have a little fear in you - being cocky could get you in trouble. We don't want too many grads in critical care at the same time, but most work out wonderfully.The few who have left did so because they did not like the shift work or had some other reason other than the job itself.
Mar 9, '04
The hospital that I work for put us through an intense 2 week critical care course. I also had a preceptor for 12 weeks. Ask about these things. Nurses are needed so badly in ICUs that I am sure you can find a hospital willing to train you.
Mar 9, '04
I went straight into the ICU as a new graduate. I was given 12 weeks with my preceptor and took critical care classes during those 12 weeks. It does make a difference to have the right preceptor. I've been in the ICU for about 1 1/2 years now and everyday, I get more comfortable and more confident with my job. When I was hired, I was told that it would take 2 years to become comfortable there and they weren't kidding. It really does take a long time to feel like you know what you're doing. At first, I didn't think I could do it. I felt really stupid compared with all the seasoned nurses there, but they were so very encouraging and told me to stick with it. And I did;and now I'm actually precepting someone on the unit. I'm still learning and I will always be learning there; but I've come a long way in such a short time. I'm beginning to trust myself more. You will do fine. My advice to you is to make sure you are comfortable with the preceptor you have. If you don't feel like you're learning enough or getting the answers you need, have them give you another preceptor. Be humble and learn from everyone there. You will run into many different personalities. Just abosorb all the information you can even if the person giving you the information isn't your "favorite." Definitely read up on each of your patients' pathophysiology and treatments when you get a chance. I wish you all the best.
Mar 9, '04
I started in the ICU as a new grad. I never had the benefit of having a nursing internship first either because I did an accelerated program and didn't have time. I had an intense 14 day critical care course, a 2 day arrhythmia course, and was with a preceptor for about 5 months. I am doing just fine and am loving my job, but it was a tough transition. Even now that I am off orientation I still don't feel entirely comfortable, but I have support where I work and know that other nurses will help me if I am drowning. It worked for me because I am really self-motivated and learn quickly, and I go home and read about things I saw that day. The most important thing to do is ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS, even if you think they are stupid. Have the common sense to realise when you don't know something and ask for help.
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