New Grad to ICU...

  1. I was wondering how long it takes to go from being a new graduate of a BSN program to working in the ICU. Can one work in the ICU right out of school?
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   TLC RN
    Yes, one can go directly into the ICU.
  4. by   USAFNC
    Yes you definitely can. I know because I did. It is a rapidly growing trend.
    Look for hospitals that offer some sort of critical care training program. They are everywhere.

    Here are some questions to ask potential employers in regards to the type of training they offer for new grads seeking to work in Critical Care.
    * How is the program structured? Is the program "training program" or an "orientation".
    * How long is the training? I would be hesitant to sign on for training that is less than 6 months.
    * Will there be any classroom time? Instruction on hemodynamic monitoring, ecg interpretation, lecture covering disease processes commonly seen in critical care
    * Will you be assigned a dedicated preceptor?

    You should be aware that the quality of the training program will directly impact your confidence and your satisfaction with your job. Ultimately the biggest key to the success of a new grad in such a challenging environment is willingness to learn and they ability to always be willing to ask questions and ask for help.

    Hope that helps.
  5. by   Focker
    6 months seems excessive, i think my precptorship when I started in the ICU was 6-8 weeks, with more supplemental classes afterwards. I dont remember being underprepared or overly stressed. In all likelyhood though, the ideal period is probably somewhere in between 2 months and 6 months.
  6. by   Chicagoan
    Thank you all for the replies
    Quote from USAFNC
    Hope that helps.
    That helps a lot . Thank you very much.
  7. by   lifeLONGstudent
    I am at Parkland (Dallas, TX) in the critical care residency -- class time as well as bedside shifts spread out over 3 months. I am assigned to 1 or 2 primary preceptors (I may have 1 shift every now and then with a nurse that I have not been assigned to on a regular bases). My nurse educator is very open to switching you or rotating the preceptors in case your personalities clash or just to give you some variety --- there is more than 1 way to skin a cat and you learn different tricks and tips when you are with different nurses.

    During the bedside shifts, you advance in phases. Phase I is 1 stable ICU patient. Phase II is a stable pair. Phase III is an unstable single or a busy pair. Phase IV is whatever rolls through the door. There is a skills checklist that my be completed (performed or verbalized) prior to coming off orientation -- the skills checklist is about 2-3 pages long.


    Class time includes lectures on anything and everything, very in depth, from VERY SMART nurse educators who are excellent clinicians and excellent teachers. Skills labs and check offs are included in the classes (ex: ABG, mechanical ventilation - how it works and what the alarms mean and how to trouble shoot equipment, setting up & working with pressure lines, assisting with ventric insertion, ventric monitoring and draining, defibrillation, etc). ACLS is included. Advanced ECG is a 3 day class - included.

    Parkland is a training facility and a level I trauma center. They have a GREAT program for new grads or floor nurses who are transitioning into critical care. I would highly recommend that you consider these points when you contemplate starting in the ICU - it will lower your stress level considerably! I cannot speak high enough of the training at Parkland (and the level of care that is provided).

    lifeLONGstudent
  8. by   srna2008
    I just graduate with my BSN, and will begin working in a Surgical/Trauma ICU. All post-op hearts are recovered in this unit. I externed in this unit all through nursing school, that helped me secure my spot, because I was the only graduate hired for that unit. I will get about 4 weeks of general nursing orientation, then another 4-8 weeks of critical care orientation, then at least 3 months with a dedicated precptor. It is just very important to find a hospital that is dedicated to nursing education, because this is when and where you will build that critical care foundation that will hopefully get us into CRNA school someday.

    Good luck

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