Personally I think all new RN's should have to work the floor on med/surg first for at least 6-12mo. You would be surprised how much you learn that first 6mo., and trust me, internships and fellowships are nothing like being on your own making critical thinking decisions . I know all new grad RN's have their sites set on ED, ICU, Trauma, OR, but as with every job, you have to earn that with a showcase of knowledge and experience gained on real life job experience. And with the market now, the high influx of new grads with minimal positions available, and experience RN's being force to work rather than retire, you should be excited with any hospital offer, no matter what it is.
However, it can't hurt to try to apply for ICU, especially if your hospital offers some kind of ICU new grad program that offers classes, advanced clinical, and eases the new grad into ICU situations. Because school clinicals, no matter how much you think they prepare you, are nothing like being on your own making your own choices, being held accountable for everything you do.
Interviewing for the ICU should be treated like every other interview:
Research your potential employer, know how many beds, typical patient diagnosis, what type of charting they use, know patient satisfaction scores, stating your strong on something the hospital is weak in is key. know about other departments too. Its impressive when the potential employee comes to me and is able to show they did their research about our unit and hospital.
Make sure you are ready to explain everything on your resume, seems simple enough, but if I ask, "I see you worked at XXXX hospital on the CCU as an intern, if you had a patient come in with XXX diagnosis, what would you expect the doctors to order and the immediate action of the nursing staff?" I always ask a scenario questions, I don't mind if the potential employee doesn't know everything, I understand they are new to the department, but I like to see how well the critically think on the fly.
On the same track, if I interview a new grad I always research the school they came from just to see what type of clinical they had, and how much bedside time they actually had, BSN to me is fine but some of my best RN's are hospital based diploma RN's, the amount of bedside experience they leave school with really makes SOME...BSN schools look weak. SO be prepared to point out the strong points of your clinical with examples ready.
Browse this website, look at what these ICU RN's are talking about, research some high discussed topics on the internet in on paper, so you don't have ICU or RN experience, but a least being exposed to what the typical ICU RN deals with day to day will give you an advantage over the person who comes in blind to the interview without knowing much about what its really like in the ICU. I see things on this website all the time that I learn from, even with my experience.
Have examples in your mind ready of memorable work experiences, all types, one where you made a mistake, and most important, what you learned from that experience.
Dress nice, Men where your best pants long sleeve dress shirt and a tie, shower, trim up the hair, shave, Women, same thing, look nice and professional, well put together, It at least lets us know you care enough to present yourself as a professional, cause thats what you are, a professional, and thats what I want representing my floor, a professional, and make sure you don't use slang, and talk proper, full sentences, be articulate.
Great everyone with a smile and a firm handshake, for me interviews are part of my job, so when someone comes in and is able to present a good resume, and is able to do everything I talked about, what separates it for me is being able to show some personality. don't be afraid to pass a joke, not overboard but something to show you have some personality, we are a team and part of being a team is being able to get along with others.
Now I do stick with my previous statement, everyone needs Med/Surg experience, not only clinically, but for organization skills, communicating with MD's, delegation skills, and well, If you can survive Med/surg, you should be able to handle the stress anywhere in the hospital, I have so much respect for med/murg RN's. I did it once, it made me the RN I am today.
So along with applying for ICU's, make sure you apply for some general floor positions, if only as a back-up.
But most of all, good luck, its a tough job market out there, so research all over ways to separate yourself from the thousands of other new grads out there. I hope you get what your looking for. If you cared enough to post this topic, I know you'll put everything in to upcoming interviews. Just be patient and it will happen.