Med Surg Nurses That Switched Over to ICU Nursing - page 2

by GaMommy81

8,671 Views | 15 Comments

Hello all! I currently work on an 18 bed med surg floor with a 6:1 nurse patient ratio and have been doing so since October of 2012. I graduated from nursing school with my heart set on working in the ICU, but I was never able... Read More


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    MedTele nurse for 18 months prior to going to ICU. It was a long time ago, but it helps to know assessment, meds, communication with patients, families, and doctors, and multi-tasking. On orientation, be self-directive and pro-active and ask questions. Make sure you bring your "A" game on orientation and be open to learning new things. My preceptor always says I was his best orientee because training me was so easy because I was fairly independent early on..."I spoiled him" is what he tells me even now more than a decade later.
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    I left med surg after exactly one year. I started in an SICU about the same time as 3 brand new grads. Except for having a slight edge in knowledge of routinely given medications and time management, I don't really feel that my year of med surg gave me any appreciable advantage over my newly graduated colleagues. I moved to a different facility, so even the IV pumps and other routine equipment was all new to me.

    If you work with a good team, ask plenty of questions, and never do anything you aren't sure about without asking someone for help, you'll be fine. If you're like me, everything will just freak you out the first time or two and then you'll be ready for the next.
    selamslm and Natural510 like this.
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    Gotta keep calm in any ICU setting!
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    I was also a M/S nurse before going to MSICU... I excelled as did the other experienced nurse in my critical care group. The graduate nurses however had a slower pace but not to say they aren't fabulous now. However more recent classes have been not as fabulous. Time management, prioritizing, and level-headedness are skills that are an absolute must...without them... it will be an epic fail!
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    Quote from GaMommy81
    I would love to hear from nurses who made the transition from med surg to ICU. What have your experiences been and what advice would you offer in order to be successful?

    I worked a Medical Step-down unit with ratio of either 3:1 or 4:1. I worked there 2 years before transferring to the Cardio-thoracic SICU. Talk about overwhelming! I got through the 11 week orientation though. It was an awesome and scary feeling to seeing your patient come directly from open heart surgery on multiple drips, vent, IABP, etcc. to (hopefully) sitting up in the bed waiting to transfer to the SD unit the very next day! After 2 years of frustration with the ego of Cardiac surgeons, I transferred to a Medical ICU. Patients aren't as awesome, but the comradery with the ICU MD's is great!
    I never had a very "rewarding" feel on the floor. Most were failure to wean, frequent fliers (which you will see in ICU as well). Both ICU's I've been in are either 1:1 if very sick or usually 2:1.
    TIME MANAGEMENT is a must! Keep up with charting. Most of your shifts will be routine, but things can go from smooth to complete chaos in a matter of seconds. If you're already behind, prepare to be there late to finish charting.
    CRITICAL THINKING. OF course you'll learn this as you see more, but most of the MD's expect when you call them to be able to tell them exactly what is going on and what you need.
    Prepare to hear an earful if you call them in the middle of the night and don't know what to ask for specifically.
    THICK SKIN. Some patients and or families are going to be difficult at best. The patient's going through DT's seem to be the worst. They will drain you physically and mentally.

    Ask a lot of questions. Those that come in and act as if they know everything, or don't ask and screw things up don't last. Be a team player. When you're not busy, help others. You're going to need help at times, and as "professional" as nurses are supposed to be, they are also just as vindictive.

    I'm sure there is so much more to tell, but I don't want to write a novel here

    If you have any specific questions, feel free to inbox me.
    Good luck!
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    I worked the floors for four years and went to the ICU and have been here for two years! I do not regret my floor days! I loved it!


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