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Becoming a Critical Care Nurse

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nurseinthemaking24 has 2 years experience and specializes in Communication, critical thinking, organizign.

153 Profile Views; 4 Posts

I’ve wanted to be a Critical Care Nurse for as long as I have wanted to be a nurse. I’m a senior in nursing school now, and currently in my critical care specialty.

I am BEYOND devastated with my school’s clinical placement. I ended up being placed at a hospital where we are placed on a med surg floor with incredibly stable patients. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re okay! But I feel like I’m missing out on the experience that the other 75+ students get that have a different clinical assignment.

I’ve already taken a huge interest to this course. Spending a lot of time developing a deep understanding of cardiac and ACLS. I applied for a nurse externship in the ICU and am hoping to get it so I can somewhat know what I am doing! If not, I'm thinking about doing a PCT in the ICU. Is that a good idea?

With that being said, I’m looking for some advice.

Becoming a CCRN: When do I take the CCRN exam? After NCLEX?

I don't graduate until December but I really want to go ahead and maybe take my ACLS certification over the Summer? Good idea or bad idea?

I'm honestly just a nursing student who wants some direction and advice from other critical care nurses! I just want to make sure I understand the steps to make this my specialty :)

Thank you in advance!! Much love.

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amoLucia specializes in LTC.

1 Follower; 5,614 Posts; 47,210 Profile Views

Am just reading your post and want to say that I believe that there's some work experience requirement (like a REAL HOURS requirement) to sit the exam. And I think you need to be licensed.

I'm really not 100% sure, so anybody out there can correct me. I think I'm thinking the right exam. It could be I've mixed it up with another exam.

Edited by amoLucia

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MountaineerFan57 has 2 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Critical Care/CVICU.

36 Posts; 945 Profile Views

A lot of ICUs will offer RN jobs and some even have really nice residency programs for new grads. I would look and see if there are any postings for those positions at the hospitals around you. If not, becoming a PCT is a good way to get a foot in the door.

the CCRN requires you work at minimum 1 year full-time in an ICU before you can take the exam, and you honestly need that experience to fully grasp the concepts. So don’t worry about that yet 🙂

You could enroll in ACLS, but if you wait until you get a job, your hospital will probably set you up with a course and maybe pay for it as well.

Even though your med-surg patients are stable, try to always be critically thinking through their pathophysiology and signs/symptoms.

Finish school strong and study hard for NCLEX! Good luck!

Edited by MountaineerFan57

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nurseinthemaking24 has 2 years experience and specializes in Communication, critical thinking, organizign.

4 Posts; 153 Profile Views

Thank you so much! Especially for clarifying for me. I was under the impression I wouldn’t be able to be a ICU nurse til I take the CCRNA exam.

I’ll definitely keep an open mind. I really appreciate you!
Thank you so much again :)

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1,250 Posts; 8,162 Profile Views

CCRN requires about 1500 hours and one year of critical care experience. You cannot get ACLS until you are an RN as the mega code part of it requires the simulation of you pushing meds which you are not allowed to do until you are an RN.

Any critical care you will have you get ACLS at their cost after you are hired. It’s not a requirement to get hired like BLS is.

You are jumping the gun. You can get a tech job on an ICU so you can get an idea what it’s like, but even our techs who transition to nurses still are amazed at what all happens.

ICU is a depressing place, make sure you have the mental health to deal with it. I find recently too many new grads all want to be ICU nurses until they see what all it entails. It took me numerous years to be able to deal with all I deal with.

I myself was a new grad in an icu. I was slightly older so I feel I brought a little more maturity and life experience so I was able to handle all the tragedy a little better, but I’ve still had times over the years where it’s been extremely difficult. Very few of our 23-25 year old new grads make it past one year. It’s too much.

Do a lot of self evaluating before choosing icu. Don’t see icu as some type of hierarchy in the nursing world. It’s brutal and can break the best of us.

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chris21sn has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in CVICU, CCRN.

139 Posts; 3,999 Profile Views

hello. currently I'm in a crna program 🙂 and I can see you're interested in becoming an ICU nurse and also a crna? (I saw one of your posts said, crna? sorry if I misunderstood? LOL)

answering your question - you can sit for the ccrn exam after about 1500 hours. meaning about 9 months into your first year as a full-time nurse, this DOES include orientation hours (if you're the main nurse).

as for your second question...how to get that ICU job:

I would really recommend starting on a medsurg, tele, or pcu first. I was about 23 when I became a ICU nurse and got accepted quite easily. I had about 1 year tele experience under my belt. I worked hard on my tele floor, received drips, chronic vents, ekgs. I even got my critical care course - which is a ICU led course which teaches you all about ICU type of patients.

it was quite smooth transitioning into ICU. while you're hired at a hospital, all certifications such as acls/bls/pals will be paid for. so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

if you're not wiling to go to tele first, (Which I totally get. I was impatient when I was younger) id recommend being a pca, or like you mentioned getting some sort of externship. id also recommend as you said getting a acls certification, iv course, ekg course, just to prove that youre a go-getter.

I was actually able to grab an ICU position straight out of nursing school at 21, but I had to resign because of personal issues - and decided that going the tele route was more suitable for me. but like I mentioned, I got an acls cert., iv course cert., and ekg course. I had a good GPA, good recommendations from my teachers, and I had also volunteered as a hospice center prior. so it was smooth getting that ICU positon.

anyways as for the crna portion question? (again, sorry if I misunderstood the question)

currently 25, and I got into a crna program. I worked 2.5 years, passed 100/125 score on the ccrn, became employee of the month, got good recommendations, received open heart patients (the sickest type of patient), shadowed crna for about 40 hrs --- then started applying

got into my dream school

hoped I helped. any issues, let me know 🙂

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