Preparing for Trauma ICU

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    I was wondering if anyone had some advice for preparing to enter the trauma ICU? I have been a trauma junkie since before nursing school volunteering in the ED. Throughout nursing school I got as much trauma ICU/step down time as I could and know that this is the field for me. Sadly, it is also extremely competitive to get into. I did do ED for a year and a half to get experience with the resuscitation aspect. I now work in med/surg ICU to get my foot in the door for critical care. I am attending as many trauma conferences I can to learn the latest and greatest, have TNCC, and all my elective CEUs have been related to trauma care. I have a year and a half left in my current job before I can leave. What can I do in the mean time to make myself look better on paper so I can land that interview and job? Thanks for your advice!
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    The best advice I can give to you is to possibly find out what equipment the Trauma ICU your applying to utilizes. That way you may be able to study up or familiarize yourself better for a potential interview question. I work in a Surgical Truma ICU and have been on our interview boards for new employees. The canidates that impress me the most are those that take the time to do a bit of their homework prior to interviewing. Some equipment that a Trauma ICU uses
    are CCO SWANS, LEVEL 1's, Rotorest bed's, and if you deal with Neuro at all, Ventrics, Camino's, and quite possibly EEG waveforms for Pent Coma's.

    Lastly, you really want to have a great understanding of hemodynamics and associated equipment. Remember hehe....if there aren't holes we make them and if there are holes we plug um!
    NurseKitten, celclt, and megamaam like this.
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    I rotated through our level 1 trauma ICU in nursing school last semester and most of my coassigned nurses were ex-Paramedics. You have a year and a half to knock out that cert, if you've already taken everything you can in the form of CEUs.

    Though, i don't know how applicable my answer is, just a suggestion
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    Thank you for your advice...may I inquire some more? What kind of questions would you ask of your potential candidates? What books besides TNCC would you recommend reading in preparation? Sadly because I work in a small community hospital, CRRT, swans and ICP drains are a no go. We transfer them to a larger hospital if they need more. The extent of my hemodynamic skills are CVPs and art lines. We do use a fair amount of vasoactives, anti-hypertensives, and the occasional paralytic for respiratory purposes. If there is any advice you have I would truly appreciate it. Thank you so, so much!
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    Sorry got back to you so late. I was on vacation. Well honestly TNCC really deals with the treatment of the patient en route to the hosptital and pretty much while in the ER. Most of the skills and theories you learn in TNCC will already have been implemented prior to ICU RN receiving the patient. The book that I would recommend is the "PASS the CCRN". The CCRN certification is by far the most prestigious cert an ICU nurse can obtain. You will have a great understanding of all aspects of care if you can get this cert. Be aware, it is difficult to get and requires lots of studying.

    As far as questions for potential canidates? One important one is, Why do you want to be in the ICU? A lame answer is the typical "because I want fewer patients and i like the idea of concentrating my care on one or two patients" We hear this answer time and time again...it does not usually provide a good outcome for the canidate.

    As far as the hemodynamics go....even though your hospital does not use certain equipment does not mean you should not be aware of it and what numbers mean....a good ICU nurse has the basics of ICU equipment down. Know what a low CVP means in Truma's, know what a high CVP means. A what point do you stop giving fluids and start using vasopressors?

    hope this helps....I'll be glad to give you more advice if you need it...good luck
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    Thank you so much for your help. I will certainly take you up on your offer for more advice down the road. If you happen to know any tidbits of the trauma hospitals in Oregon that would help hehe! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
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    Dennison's "Pass CCRN" and Rhoades and Bell's "Medical Physiology". I know I sound like a broken record on recommending these 2, but they have honestly been the best ones for me (and I've been through most of them!) over the past 5 years.

    Can't think of the name of the good pharmacology book, but if I come across it, I'll post. Dennison's book has a lot of it, too.

    You're on the right track...get your CCRN. Whether you're hired in trauma ICU or not, it makes you that much more marketable.
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    Quote from FOCKER0014
    Sorry got back to you so late. I was on vacation. Well honestly TNCC really deals with the treatment of the patient en route to the hosptital and pretty much while in the ER. Most of the skills and theories you learn in TNCC will already have been implemented prior to ICU RN receiving the patient. The book that I would recommend is the "PASS the CCRN". The CCRN certification is by far the most prestigious cert an ICU nurse can obtain. You will have a great understanding of all aspects of care if you can get this cert. Be aware, it is difficult to get and requires lots of studying.......................hope this helps....I'll be glad to give you more advice if you need it...good luck
    I am nursing student, just starting level 3 this month, and over the summer I got a PCT 2 position at the only trauma hospital in the county, level 2 trauma. I really want ICU, but then as I talked to the recruiter, the questions she was asking, I did seem to be what she pegged me as, an adrenalin junky "like the nurses in the ER." I had thought about ER, but then blew it off; and as I've been told, just cause you want one thing, don't miss any opportunities. And I am glad I took this position; I cannot get enough of it! Wish I could always be in the trauma room, but as a PCT in the ER, we have all kinds of things to be doing to help out the RNs. And I love every minute of that too, drew blood my first day and can do EKGs, etc., things I haven't even done in nursing school yet. However, I hadn't thought about Trauma ICU til a girl at orientation mentioned it, then I thought, oh my goodness; I can have really bad off patients and be in the ICU--of course I want no one bad off, but there are bad things happening to good people every day, so I want to be there to take care of them--and now I am trying to regroup and think about where I really want to specialize. I want to do my NP/MSN after my BSN, applying in January for BSN, but I am sort stuck about which way to go....critical care NP, clinical nurse specialist (but then what if I change my mind about specialty one day), am so excited about this opportunity but want to head in the right direction. I have been researching NP, etc., since I was doing prereq's and so far everything is coming together as planned, and obviously I like to plan ahead LOL, but I really want to do what I am meant to do; at this point I am stuck between Trauma and ICU and/or Trauma ICU?! I just don't know if ICU is fast-paced enough for me, i.e., love the ER and couldn't imagine sitting around EVER. But in ICU you are always checking labs, I&O, drips....and all the stuff I have no idea of yet being nursing student and new to a hospital. I know I want hospital now that I've done that, know some who are going to LTF for the $, but I would never do that unless my family needed a roof and food and it was only job I could get. I definitely love the 12's and just need some direction as to what I should be looking into/where I should get my experience while finishing my RN to get the experience for......I also liked being in the OR, but only did a couple days of that; I think I might get bored watching operations unless it's trauma OR.

    I know this post was old but maybe someone can tell me how they knew which way they wanted to go.
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    I am a charge RN in our Level 1 Trauma ICU in Jacksonville. Like mentioned before me, I would highly recommend becoming certified (CCRN).


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