Advice for new to ICU in Trauma


I feel a little apprehensive about my new position in Trauma ICU. I've never worked in ICU before, yet read the journals regularly and am a member of AACCN...I've worked primarily in Med-Surg-Tele for 7 years.....I am grateful for this opportunity, taking the CCI course and start my first shift shadowing tonight. I will be a sponge for the next three night shifts and I know my preceptor is willing and energetic! Any advice for me? There will be three months of preceptorship.

How long was it before you felt competent and somewhat secure? I am so used to feeling uber-able at my med-surg-tele position. I know I may feel a little like a deer in the headlights of the monitors at first.

Has 18 years experience.

Coming into the ICU the learning curve is steep. It will take a year or two before you aren't worried that you are going to kill your pts or that you did...while critiquing every decision you made all night. This is normal, it's ok! Just get back into student learner mode and you will be wonderful.

good luck

Thank you! YES....steep learning curve for sure!!!!! I am being a sponge and do feel years younger....almost like I did in elementary school; thirsty for every bit of knowledge and not enough time in the day to digest it all. I know it will take a long time....but someday I hope to be that ICU RN who anticipates exactly what drug and dose comes next and has it in hand before the doc asks....and all the supplies ready before the docs even know what they are going to do next. I am completely in awe of the teamwork and fellowship; the knowledge and ready-quickness of the RNs I have worked with so far. My preceptor is amazing and within this teaching hospital I am so grateful to have her!!! I love to listen to her gently lead the residents into what they need to do next. This is what I always imagined nursing to be and I have so much respect for all of the ICU RNs in the world......

Has 18 years experience.

Nice to hear you are moving a wonderful time ! Working at a teaching hosp can be quite a bit different then a non-teaching hosp so of you leave there you may experience quite a culture change. Sounds like you have a great preceptor!

Good luck !


55 Posts

Specializes in Trauma ICU. Has 3 years experience.

I am just hitting my third month in a trauma ICU. I was a tele nurse for 1 1/2yrs prior to that. I will say the learning curve is vertical! The good news is that I feel fairly confident in the care of my patients. The fresh traumas are reserved for the nurses that have their TNCC so I will have an opportunity to get comfortable with my new skills before I will be solely responsible for that level of acuity. I'm still very cautious a of my presser titrations. But I have a wonderfully supportive group of nurses to ask when I don't know or am questioning my self. Their knowledge base is so impressive! I too agree that this is a fantastic, interesting, challenging job that will take years to master!


32 Posts

Specializes in Critical care RN. WHNP student. Has 10 years experience.

I'm glad to hear it does eventually get better. I am a brand new RN and I got hired straight into a level I trauma ICU. So far it has been pretty scary but I've learned more in one month than in 4 years of school. Hope it keeps just getting better


1 Post

congrats on the new job. I have applied for a teaching hospital internship and have been contacted for preliminary interview. Any pointers or suggestions on landing a good interview? I have been out of the working environment for some time and the new process of interviewing is scary to me. Plz help...


25 Posts

Congratulations on getting that job! I'm also hoping to get into critical care, but within the Navy. I'll most likely start off on Med-Surg/Tele, yet would love to make my way into ICU and even Flight nursing which I'm sure has it's own level of trauma. I think it's great that some hospitals are willing to hire new grads as I am one myself. Best of luck to all of you; cheers! :-)