Moving to critical care nursing

  1. How much experience would you recommend having prior to applying for a ICU position?
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from kcrn13
    how much experience would you recommend having prior to applying for a icu position?
    at least a year. i know you're going to get responses that say go for it as a new grad, but i really think you do better (and burn out slower!) if you get some med/surg experience under your belt first. learn how to talk to patients and families, how to do a rapid assessment while introducing yourself, how to drop an ng, stick in a foley and put in 2 ivs under the gun. then when you go to icu you'll already know the basics and can concentrate on learning the icu skills. i think it makes for a far better transition, and your career will last longer.

    i waited 5 years, but there's no reason to wait that long. just get some good basic experience in how to be a real nurse. then apply for a transfer. good luck!
  4. by   11:11
    If you read this forum your answer will have already been answered.

    It depends on the nurse asking the question, and the one answering it.

    I am of the older school who feels that a nurse should have some basic skills down before coming to ICU ie basic meds admin, transfers, bathing, etc etc that one can pick up on the floor in a few months.

    One example is Mayo Rochester's NG program where the NG spent six months on medical telemetry then a three month orientation in the ICU.

    However there are those here who make the case that as a NG theres no point to spending time in a unit that isnt where you want to work. In todays environment there are plenty of facilities that have excellent orientation programs.

    My current unit is one of them. We orient NGs all of the time and usually have 2-3 at any given time. We are used to it, and have experienced preceptors who are very capable af taking a floor nurse or NG through that process. We also have a three tiered sytem of classes that ALL nurses take when starting here NG or not.

    So you have to ask yourself how you feel about your basic skills, and how quick of a learner you are.

    For myself I am glad I did not jump into a busy high acuity ICU right out of school. Others have had no problem doing it. Then again others who might have made very good ICU nurses bit off more than they could chew and wont come back because of that experience.

    If you are going to come here with little or no experience, especially into an ICU like I describe above, be prepared to live in fear for a couple of years and deal with a lot of stress.

    Also prepare for learning more in a few months then you will anywhere else, experience pts, procedures, and equipment that you wont see anywhere else, be involved with MDs and others like you wont be anywhere else.

    I hope you do it if thats what you want-

    11
    Last edit by 11:11 on Feb 10, '05
  5. by   PJMommy
    I'm one of the ones who went as a new grad directly into a busy trauma ICU and wouldn't have been happy for 1 day on a med/surg floor. But I was also a new grad at age 34 and like to think that the years as a mom and professional before nursing taught me a certain modicum of maturity and humility.

    However, I think 11:11's answer above is the most thought-out, reasonable answer I've ever seen. There is no right or wrong answer. It depends totally on the nurse, the precepting program, the unit, the culture, etc.
  6. by   zambezi
    I agree with the answers so far. I think it depends on how you learn, how you integrate information, patient presentation, basic skills, etc and what you like. I was a new grad that started in a CICU...I oriented there as a student for six months (a fantastic program that my school offered) and then about three months once I graduated. I have seen new grads and experienced med/surg/tele RNs come into the unit and not make it...and I have seen new grads or experienced RNs do just fine. I would just try to get all the experience you can as a student, preferably in different areas to see what you like and where you think you will excel. Don't forget to think about the feel of the unit...if it is a toxic environment vs. a nuturing one, it may be harder to excel without exceptionally solid skills.

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