Burn Unit RN Interview


I'm going to be interviewing for a position as an RN in Burn ICU (8 bed unit) that is adjacent to the hospital's outpatient burn clinic. I'm interested in working with patients with complex, compromised integumentary systems, and thought burn nursing could be a good fit for me. I understand that there is a large psychological component to burn care, along with pain management and lengthy dressing changes. There will likely be many candidates interviewing so I'm wondering if anyone can offer any perspectives or insights on working as a burn RN and also, any tips on what is expected out of a top applicant. I'm considering completing my ACLS to start, but didn't know if there was anything else I could do besides common sense things like preparing and dressing well for the interview.


21 Posts

I have been working for the past six weeks in the burn clinic at an academic center. I have years of ICU before that, and have my BSN, CCRN. All of our BICU RNs are BSN, most have the CCRN, and most have BLS/ACLS/ABLS. In the clinic, all three of us are RN, CCRN. I'm the only one who's kept up the ACLS, and I will also get my ABLS, even though that's usually for pre-hospital folks. I don't think our BICU considers any new grads. Other ICU nurses float to the BICU at times, but they choose assignments carefully. My ICU experience is medical, cardiac, kidney/liver/pancreas transplant and neurotrauma. I had no burn experience before I took this job.

Go look up the ABA online, and troll that website. Like most ABA-approved centers, we do burn trauma, nec fasc, and Stevens Johnsons. You should know if your center is ABA affiliated. It matters a lot in the burn world.

I don't know what your experience is like, though. Yes, go get your ACLS. That's a good early beginning for BICU.

Working in critical care is a whole different ball of wax from med-surg, and there's a lot you'll need to know about hemodynamics and infection control. The burn wound care is the least consideration, after stabilizing your patient. Our BICU stabilizes and debrides wounds, and turns them over to the OR for grafting. Our patients generally recover in a med/surg bed anywhere, then come to us.

In the BICU, you need to know fluid resuscitation, airway management, physiology of pain control and infection control as much higher priorities than the wound care. Remember your compartment syndrome, assessing CMS, fasciotomies/escharotomies.

I've never been a fan of bringing new grads into ICU. Perhaps I'm grumpy old nurse, but I've seen too many new grads fail in ICU. Burn ICU is a whole level on top of that. I'm not discouraging you....I don't know how far it is to climb for you.

I like burn a lot. It's new to me, and it's a different patient population for me. The wound care part is relatively easy. That isn't what makes this specialty interesting.

Good luck.


104 Posts

Thank you for the thorough reply. My burn center is ABA approved, and is the only dedicated BICU in the region (there are only 2, maybe 3 other burn centers in the state). I would imagine that hemodynamics and infection control are major priorities. I decided to set up some time to visit and learn more about the unit, and can definitely see it as a good fit. This particular hospital, including the BICU, is very willing to hire new grads into their critical care areas. I spent the day with the unit's charge nurse and staff, and talked with the NM and clinical leader for a bit. The RNs I interacted with were very willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me, giving me a very positive impression of the unit (I also sent a hand-written thank you note so hopefully they will have a favorable impression of me, too).

Apparently many students who did their end-of-nursing school preceptorship there were offered positions, and the unit participates in the hospitals graduate nurse program interview process for placement. I am BSN and will have my ACLS complete before the interview. Hopefully that, along with my high GPA (3.8+) will be in my favor because I'm fairly certain there will be more than just a handful of other interviewees for the position. Just learning as much about burn nursing and the culture of the unit so I can perform well.