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Any new grads regret starting in the ICU?


Specializes in Telemetry, ICU, Psych. Has 9 years experience.

Hello folks,

I'm a new LPN working on a tele floor while I finish the RN portion of my program. I love my orientation, had a great deal of medical experience before I started, and am doing well in nursing school. But the truth is, I can't believe how big the transition from student to professional nurse is. Most of my friends - who haven't worked as nurses yet - want to start in the ICU or ER. They would rather have two patients, or 'treat and street.' Although I understand this, I would not want to start with all of that responsibility. Working as a new nurse only solidified that desire.

Anyway, are there any new grads who wish they didn't start in the ICU/ER? Share your stories!

PS - this is not meant to be a thread to bash all of those (probably the majority) who had great experiences as a new grad in these areas!


cardiacRN2006, ADN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac.

Crazy--the thing is....you will feel the way you feel regardless of where you start.

So as a new nurse, newborn nursery, tele, L&D, ICU...they all feel very hard and scary as a newbie.

So that's why some of us go straight into the ICU anyway. Because a lot of new nurses who start off in med-surg or tele often think they could never go to ICU because it's so hard where they are at now. No matter where you start-it will be overwhelming and scary!

So, start where you want to go, and move on from there.

But for me, I don't regret ICU one bit! I'm thankful I did it right away!

I started in CCU a year ago, and I absolutely love it! I love the autonomy, the learning, the pace, the thinking, all of it. I don't regret it one bit.

And I can also see how the above post is probably right. No matter where you start, it's gonna be scary!

Mahage, LPN

Specializes in IMCU. Has 1 years experience.

I just started. I have been 3 days on the unit and it is scarier than 7 hells! I asked for it and I got it. I know it is too early to make any judgements. At this point in time, I feel like if I can just get the daily routine stuff down I will be able to learn the complicated stuff. It is the routine stuff that I am in a simmer over right now. Any pointers? Thanks, Mahage

I don't regret it. I've been there just about 2 years. But I went through hell for a while. I had no health care experience and underestimated how much I was taking on besides learning ICU stuff and nursing judgement. I didn't know where to find things, the computer system, which docs like what, which docs to call, the hospital systems. I knew that ICU is where I wanted to be, and I knew that I would work my tail off at work and outside of work to be competent by the end of orientation. I asked a million questions, read up on things after I went home, and minimized outside distractions. Know that in some ICU's there will be people who don't believe new grads belong there, and some that will openly hope you will fail. I hope that it doesn't happen to you, but if it does, know that it's not personal and tough it out. If you want it enough and can find a way to learn what you need to, you'll be fine. You don't need to tone down your strong personality, you need to channel it properly to great patient care and be humble enough to learn.

txspadequeenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, PICC Nurse, Nursing Supervisor. Has 20 years experience.

i am thinking the same thing. i have been a lvn many years and will be a new rn next year (hopefully). although i know my job area inside and out i feel very scare moving out of my comfort zone. i have been looking for some long internships in icu. i live 60 miles from parkland hospital in dallas and they have internships . so i was thinking of looking into that. i know one thing i wont do med-surg. i would like to get some experience in icu for my graduate studies. however, i may just have to put that on hold if i don't feel ready.


Specializes in ICU.

I am not in ICU yet (graduate in May), but I love the challenge (thinking) that critical care provides. I love to learn and I am intrigued by the physiologic aspects of the body. If I know where I want to go, why wait? I know it sounds scary, but that's with anything new in life.

Sometimes I do. I see new grad friends who are "cautiously" starting on ortho floors or in med surg, and shaking their head at the ICU, and I can sometimes doubt myself. I always tend to bite off more than I can chew and I wonder sometimes if I overestimated my abilities.

But so far, I have been blessed with a 6 month orientation, a great fellowship where I"m receiving additional education, good preceptors, a patient staff, and a smaller ICU where I can take my time and learn and things aren't as nutty as a larger local hospital. I'm learning a TON and never bored. I can concentrate more on less patients and really think about things. Our unit is also nice and spread out, and I can work in relative peace and quiet, so I like that. Some days I feel it's too much and I do get overwhelmed . .. bu I just make it through the day the best I can, go home, and try to enjoy life. Every day in there builds knowledge for me.

I think that I would have been seriously burnt out physically from med surg, so I'm glad I started where I did. I feel if it gets bad, I'll be able to step down easily and be competent.

I think nursing is hard wherever you go-- there are tough aspects of every area. Critical care just requires a lot of extra education, so I like that.

I don't know .. I"ve been off for a couple of days, so I'm talking calmly and ationally now!! :lol2: Wait until I get back on and off from a recent shift!

I think one thing that has also helped my own situation is a change in management. We have two new floor managers who are trying hard to make it a positive atmosphere and effect change. They've been great to me so far ...but I guess it could get worse, and probalby will on some days.

LOTS of extra studying, that is for sure. You feel like you're still in school going into ICU.


Specializes in lots of specialties.

I started in ICU in Sept. I have been an LPn for 3 years and was very comfortable in LTC and hospice.I was seriously questioning if this was where I really needed to be. I went from being very confident to feeling like a dummy. I went on vacation last week and( really needed the break Ill tell you) came to the conclusion that I WILL MAKE MISTAKES. I DIDNT GO INTO THIS BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE EASY. I KNOW THAT i WILL NEVER GET ANYWHERE FAST IF I STAY IN MY COMFORT ZONE.I KNEW THAT WHEN i DECIDED ON ICU THAT i WANTED A CHALLENGE( granted it will help me achieve future goals) I sat down and read this site for ICU info and you know what?? I feel a lot better being on the floor now. I am asking questions and talking to MD's is no problem.

I hope this helps because it has def helped me out. Check out this site for ICUFAQ's. Think about how you felt when you became an LPN. It was scarey but that is what happens when you venture to the unknown. You wont learn it over night. It takes time and soon it will all come to gether. It has been a slow process for me but I find that everyday I understand a bit more and am finding my own way of getting along on my unit.

Nope would do it again. I have had a few pretty rough days when I feel like when will I be able to do all of this on my own. But thinking back, when your patient goes bad (as they did on my few rough days), very rarely are you doing everything on your own. Working together and knowing when to ask for help are two things not to be underestimated.


Specializes in Trauma, MICU. Has 7 years experience.

I did a clinical rotation in ICU and loved it...although at times it was boring. Only 2 pts and they both should have been on a regular med/surg floor.

I'm planning on working through a critical care intern program first and then working in the ICU. That way I get some really good experience where I am still "a student" and then will go through orientation. I'm hoping it works out well for me.

Good luck to you. I think no matter what type of nursing a new grad goes into...it will be darn hard!!! :uhoh21:


Specializes in ICU, LTC (Rehab, Mgmt, MDS). Has 5 years experience.

I too was an LPN in LTC and spinal cord injury rehab prior to getting my RN and moving on to the MICU. It was nerve wracking because it was a new type of environment, but the best part was that you don't have to worry about the simple things that new grads have issues with, and that is being a nurse. You know about meds, know how administer them, know how to transfer, ambulate, and care for patients. You already know how to juggle 54 things and eat lunch at the same time :nurse:.

I am glad I went in to the ICU out of RN school. It was a great experience.

Well, those are the things we new grads don't know about, especially folks like me with no prior nursing experience at all. I'm still trying to get meds down, IV's, wound care, charting, etc. It's nuts.

It's a hard uphillclimb, believe me. I'm totally envious of the people who at least were techs, or nurses on med surg floors for 5 years before they came to ICU. Even they are freaked out by it a little ...imagine us new grads. ;)

I'm taking it day by day.

Mahage, LPN

Specializes in IMCU. Has 1 years experience.

I have seriously thought about asking to go to IMCU where I was also offered a job, but my former boss who knows me and is also a manager tells me that three weeks is too soon to ask to transfer out. She thinks I should give it at least 6 weeks and see if I don't feel better about it, I respect her opinionn so I am going to tough it out a while longer and see how I feel.


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