I've gleaned information on this topic from various threads, but was looking for some more input. I am an RN of three years (LPN for 5) with experience in skilled nursing, home health, and LTC. Presently I am trying to get a foot in the door of a hospital, realistically feeling this will greatly improve my chances of landing an ICU job in the future.
So what were you doing prior to working in the unit and how difficult was it to land said job? Thanks!!
Mar 2, '14
I worked on Tele/Med Surg/Oncology and had 1.5 years of experience (my first job out of nursing school). I started applying seriously in the beginning of January and had a job by the beginning of February. I found that county/community/for profit hospitals were not interested at all. But we have a teaching hospital here and they responded to my application within days.
My advice is to get ACLS, BART, find out if there are critical care classes offered in your area and attend them. Also, if you already don't have it, get your BSN, it will make you more competitive.
Mar 2, '14
I was a CURN (Urology) and worked in a clinic. I applied to a private hospital's new ICU program where I did three months of OTJ training in addition to weekly educational classes and modules. Like the previous commenter I found my job in a very short time- about 4 weeks. I was an LVN like you before I became an RN and had hospital experience then in Tele, but had no hospital experience as an RN and was basically a "new grad" in the hospital's eyes. My point is that if you don't have hospital experience many hospitals want and need ICU nurses very very badly and once a year (maybe twice) offer to train you from the ground up if you sign a contract. Mine was two years and the training was exceptional. You will either need to find that type of program or get into the hospital as med-surg/tele and work your way up. Those are the only ways I know of to do it. I have no knowledge of the previous commentor's idea that private hospitals did not want her. It was the opposite experience in my case. Good luck in ICU. Despite the vast problem of nurses not being able to find jobs all across the country these days (especially new grads) ICU positions are open at almost every single location. Often they are the only RN jobs available at all anymore for those wishing to work in hospitals. I personally burned out quickly in ICU and parlayed the experience into PACU. That is a natural progression for burned out ICU nurses. Make no mistake, the job you are pursuing with such gusto has the potential to chew you up and spit you out. But it's very rewarding for the right person.
Ps I still do not have my bachelors and it has never been a problem. Also I am in CA.
Mar 5, '14
I did a year in elective surgery before nearly 3yrs in ED, then on to ICU. It was relatively easy to get into ED as the staff turnover is usually high (think burnout/compassion fatigue), but it was the perfect way in to ICU. After 18months in ICU I emigrated from UK to Canada. Still waiting to get registered here.
Mar 6, '14
I last worked in an LTACH. My area like many has a tight market, so it took a while; most of the ICUs wanted current ICU experience. This was not my first ICU job so my previous ICU experience plus current hospital experience with tele, vents, drips etc. worked in my favor.
If you can't find anything you can do like you'd planned and get your foot in the door--I would just stay at any floor job you get for a couple of yrs, so you don't look like a job hopper.
Mar 6, '14
ICU was my first job. Landed a competitive icu residency before I had graduated and before that I worked as a tech in a level 1 trauma PICU.
Mar 6, '14
I luckily had a nursing program that had a very strong focus on the ICU and advanced specialty options. That prepared me to do my 180 hours of preceptorship with a CVICU nurse in a Regional Hospital with 23 beds including 4 open heart recovery beds. I used my preceptorship as an audition essentially and managed to get the manager to hire me once I graduated. I signed a 2 year contract and the hospital paid off my student loans. I knew my calling was the ICU, prayed about it and the doors were opened. Also I will note that out of all of the new/newish RN's I have seen get hired into the ICU, probably 95% have their BSN.
Mar 9, '14
I was a PACU nurse for 3 years and then went to MICU. There were some similarities but for the most part I still went through a 3 month orientation. Huge difference between having a patient for 2 hours vs 12 hours!
Mar 9, '14
Prior to getting into ICU, I worked on a cardiac floor where I learned telemetry. I personally feel it's very important to have a good grasp on basic telemetry/cardiac arrhythmias prior to moving into the critical care arena.
Mar 17, '14
I was in orthopedics for a year