Like anywhere, hospitals here are different unit by unit. For example if there are 3 different ICU's there may be no turnover in one and some problems in another etc.. Visiting is key! I have a friend who did her senior preceptorship at WHC's cardiac ICU and LOVED it. She said that it was impossible to get in though and ended up at a community hospital ICU. I would not recommend the ICU at Holy Cross. She was often given 3 critical patients, the charge RN almost always had an assignment, and they got rid of the techs. Yikes!
If I were you, I would investigate:
GWUH George Washington University Hospital (university hospital, on the metro, some scholarship
avail) have heard that the ICU is quite big and there is some floating/ moving around as opposed to a small cohesive niche type unit. It is right smack in the heart of the city and an exciting geographic location. Apply online, they will e-mail you and schedule a phone screen, they then fwd your info to the mgr, and e-mail you to schedule an in-person day. Nurse Career Battery exam is required and given on site. You could go ahead and set this up pretty far in advance I think.
GUH Georgetown University Hospital (university hospital, magnet, great education benefits, outstanding clinical ladder) it is not a trauma center, but having been around the block a few times since I worked there as a new grad, I have come to really appreciate the environment at this hospital for nurses. Lots of opportunity for learning and sweet sweet education benefits at a top uinversity. When I left they were building a lounge for RN's. There is emphasis on best practice, nursing research shared governance etc.. Mostly BSN educated RN's from middle and upper middle-class backgrounds. Of course there are the usual nursing headaches. I've learned that there are problems everywhere, but not necessarily the same benefits that GUH offers. The nurse recruitment office is very friendly! You don't have to apply to speak with someone on the phone. Nurse Career Battery required; done at home via link e-mailed to you a day or so after submitting your application. If you pass your file is then sent to the unit manager and a visit is scheduled. PS There is no cardiac at GUH, hearts go to WHC
WHC Washington Hospital Center (trauma center, cardiac, huge urban hospital) located in a grittier part of town and I have heard vastly different things depending upon the unit. Some are AMAZING and others pretty bad. I haven't applied and would encourage you to visit etc... because there is plenty of critical care here. They have shuttle service from the CUA/Brookland metro station I believe. Pay is supposed to be the best in the city r/t being a union hospital.
INOVA Fairfax, big hospital big trauma center in NOVA which is a very nice family friendly place to live
Finally, if you love trauma, you can't beat Baltimore Shock Trauma Hospital. They are one of the best in the nation as I understand. You could live east of the city and commute to Baltimore easily. Typically I would advise you to live in NW DC, NOVA, or Montgomery County Maryland. However if you went the shock trauma route, then I would be happy to tell you the nice pockets in PG county that would make b'more/ washington flexibility possible. Good luck! Sorry so long.