New grad who wants to be ICU, pls help!

  1. 0
    Hi, new to site, but appreciate all the info I've received.
    My questions is this:
    in today's job market of summer 2011, is it possible to get an ICU job as a new grad? Friends tell me to hold out, but all hospitals are telling me they don't hire into ICU and must be med surge. The BIG PROBLEM is that my friend (exp nurse) tells me that once they have you in a unit, it's VERY DIFFICULT to actually end up in ICU. He says its cuz they don't want to pay to retrain you, and to replace you.
    Hospitals tell me they only hire into ICU form the inside, but friend tells me it's cheaper for them to hire new grads.
    What should I do?
    I'd hate to be without a job, but I'd also hate to be stuck at med surge or something not ICU.
    Thank you for your thoughts and good luck to all of you!

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  2. 23 Comments...

  3. 1
    Many teaching hospital take new grads to ICU. However, most of the time you end up on the midnight shift. Each hospital is different. Good luck.
    WhiffOfGas likes this.
  4. 0
    Our ICU will only consider nurses with at least 1 year med-surg experience and those who agree to work our neuro tele/stepdown get preference. My advice would be get a med-surg postion and try to get tele and ACLS trained, if you can. The previous experience with med-surg will help you be more successful in ICU. Hope this helps!
    Good Luck!
  5. 0
    Thanks for the input. I'd be MORE than happy to do midnight shifts.
    I'll just have to try to speak to nurses that actually work in the hospital before I take a position. If nurses (and not the nurse recruiter) tell me it's possible/feasible to be promoted from within, it should be a good fit. But if they are stuck at their unit, then I will def not take it.
    thank you for input!
  6. 1
    At the hospital I work at they want experience in order to work in the ICU. I have seen several med surg nurses who want to work in the ICU work med surg for a year and get a job on the ICU per diem. They work full time on the med surg floor and per diem in the ICU and when a position opens they apply for it. I also know nurses who worked on a telemetry floor to begin and then transferred to the ICU. I know many teaching hospitals and hospitals in big cities will hire new grads in programs where you train for a year and then you can work.
    HazelLPN likes this.
  7. 3
    Okay, it's different nowadays for new grads. A lot of nurses will tell you to get your med-surg experience and then try and get into ICU. I'm here to tell you as a 3 year old nurse that worked in the healthcare field for 6 years prior, the "golden year" rule is crap nowadays. Your best bet is to try to get into a new grad training/residency program. Our hospital actually hires a lot of new grads into ICUs via our "pipeline" program with the local university and residency program.
    What happens when you start working med surg is that you still don't have ICU experience, so when you try and apply for ICU, you will be treated as a new grad with no experiences because for their purposes, your med surg experience means nothing. I'm not saying I agree but that's how it is nowadays.
    Your only other option is to go med surg, telemetry, step down, ICU route, and try to progress. But as far as jumping from some random nursing field ino the ICU just because you have a year of general nursing experience...that's just not happening much these days. Be smart in your choices, what you choose now will affect your future career options.
    Not trying to scare you but i wish someone would have told me that. I've always been a neuro nut, so I worked the neuro floor, then got into the neuro step down, and would love to get into our Neuro ICU (our sister unit) but even that's hard to do. They'd rather keep me where I am and hire new grads into the ICU. Don't end up like me in 2 years jealous of all the new grads, grind hard now and find the opportunity!
    I've worked in multiple hospitals in the Atlanta area and it's the status quo down here. It might be different in other hospitals. So, ask around in your area (your preceptors, instructors, etc.). Don't ask them what you should do though...ask them what they did, what their colleagues did. Good luck!
    nifty_n, Anastasiak, and KbmRN like this.
  8. 0
    This depends where you are applying. Some larger hospitals have horrid ICU turn over rates and will hire large numbers of new grads into their ICUs. Meanwhile, others are very limited and it's very competitive. If you find a hospital hiring lots of new grads (especially into ICU), the environment may be much tougher to learn and grow as a new grad. But if you are an individual that can handle that, it might be worth the headaches it causes just to get 1-2 yrs of ICU experience so you can later transfer to a different hospital.

    What is also helpful is while working as a student, make sure your nurses know your interest, ask them to vouch for you, namedrop the nurses that are willing to, and get to know the managers and supervisors on that unit. This is honestly what gets a lot of the new grads at my hospital into the ICU. I'd be willing to say 95% of the new grads hired into our ICUs made themselves well known as students to the staff.
  9. 0
    I never had a doubt while in nursing school that the ICU was where I needed to be. Luckily last semester I had my Capstone (a 1:1 240 hour clinical) in the ICU at the hospital I wanted t work at. I just graduated 5/13 and had my interview for the ICU 4 entire weeks before I received that life changing phone call saying I got it =) I asked everyone I knew what they thought of me going straight to ICU vs a med-surg floor and got mixed reviews. Ultimatley in the end I knew where I needed to be, and as it turned out I got it =) Best of luck to you in reaching your goals!
  10. 0
    When I started a s a new nurse 2 new grads were allowed into the CCU because of their Experience, grades and references. They burnt out in 6 months. Either they were not allowed to transfer to another floor or they were too humiliated. My own personal opinion is that unless a critical care program offers a YEAR partnership program or the the applicant has PRIOR med skills IE CNA or LPN The units can be harsh place. Fast pace means little tolerance for mistakes, precious time for learning and it attracts a certain personalities that can be harsh on newcomers. One nurse i worked with was responsible for the departure of more nurses from the unit than all the overbearing docs combined, but management would not touch her. I will always stand by my opinion that prior experience is needed before the units no matter what. Situations happen sometimes that the most seasoned nurse has difficulties handling. Why would I subject a new nurse to that. After all I want to see her years from now happy she chose the right field rather than be bitter right out of the gate. A lot of places will offer grads those positions often because NO ONE ELSE WILL TAKE THEM. Their turnover rate is high and managers only look at the bottom line, the budget rather than the moral of the unit. Besides we al have to work at the side of our fellow worker if they have defects because of failure to train WE ALL PAY FOR THOSE MISTAKES
  11. 0
    I was hired as a new grad in the ICU a few years ago, but the way the current job market is I think it might be best to take a job where you can get it. I know that sucks (I knew I was not a med-surg girl--I knew I wanted ICU) but these days employers can be more picky. On a positive note, if you put some time in med-surg before going to ICU some of the older nurses may respect you a bit more--it seemed that some of the seasoned nurses on my unit resented the new grads for going directly into the ICU. Also, whenever a position opens up in my unit, that position is usually given to an internal applicant...

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