ICU vs Med Surg for New Grad?

  1. I am graduating in May and was recently interviewed at a local VA hospital. They currently have 2 openings. One is in Med-Surg and the other in ICU. The Med-Surg position is about a 6-8 week orientation whereas the ICU position is much longer with classroom orientation alone about 6 weeks. I am a new grad and have always thought ICU would be a great place to go however, I have a few health concerns that keeps me from debating floor nursing. Can someone out there that started in ICU tell me about their decision and how they like it now? As far as physical labor, how physically demanding is the ICU verses Med Surg?? Will I be on my feet all shift in ICU? Or Med Surg? Is the evening's less physically demanding in the ICU? Thanks.
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    About jfpruitt

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 214; Likes: 1


  3. by   New CCU RN
    As an ICU nurse, I definitely have to say that it is quite physically demanding. There are many shifts that pass by without even time to stop and pee. You are lifting, tugging, rolling, giving chest PT, coding, etc, etc, etc. It is quite physically and emotionally draining.

    Shift really doesn't make a difference... days are busy in that you are participating in rounds, possibly changing the entire medical plan of care, having all the procedures done, etc. Evenings are busy bc you are catching up what wasn't done on days, and all hell can break loose on evenings. Nights, the same thing. You are also gonna be bathing the patients.

    I am sure Med Surg is the same. I have never worked in m/s so I cannot offer an opinion of it. But I am sure that it is also quite physically and emotionally different ways.

    Can your health concerns be addressed? Are you seeing a doctor? I wish you luck in yoru decisions.
  4. by   AHarri66
    I've worked Med-Surg/Tele and it is definitely physically demanding!! Most, if not all, of the shift (doesn't matter which one), is spent on your feet, doing basically what NewCCURN said, except with more stable patients.

    I, for one, am a H-U-G-E advocate of getting in (at least) a year of Med/Surg before moving on to critical care. The old saws of learning what is "normal" and "getting your feet wet" make a lot of sense. Also, as a new grad you will have more than just assessments and procedures to learn. There are also time management, prioritizing, and critical thinking skills. It would seem those would be easier to get a grip on in a less intense atmosphere. Besides, if you take one position, you can always move into the other at a later date.

    If you are unable to do much standing, walking, lifting, etc, you may want to investigate positions in an environment where patients are more stable, like Rehab or Long Term Care, or even an office setting.

    Best of luck!
  5. by   Lauri8
    Both places can keep you running! Starting on Med-Surg will help you develop time management skills that may later on keep you off your feet! Starting on ICU can be overwhelming but if your willing to put the effort in, is very rewarding. Good Luck with whatever you choose.

  6. by   jenadox
    I love critical care, but am also a big advocate of getting some floor experience before trying it. I worked on a step down telemetry floor before moving to CCU and I honestly don't know how well I would have done otherwise. I really didn't realize how much I didn't know until I graduated Nursing in general is physically demanding. It has been my experience that 3-11 is busiest. It seems to be staffed with fewer nurses, but there are always plenty of admits and post ops to keep you hopping. Good luck!
  7. by   CV CNS CCRN
    The only part of my clinical career that I truly regret is that I went straight to an ICU, rather than getting a year on a general service floor first. I missed skills that took me years to master, such as delegation. Critical care nurses are NOT always the best delegators, LOL. Good luck.... go for the year on the floor first. Telemetry or step down if you can get it.
  8. by   healingtouchRN
    follow your heart! I went straight into CCU upon grad after 3 months preceptorship in my same dept. It was valuable experience & I had a great team to train me. It took about a year before I could "take anything" that rolled thru the door. It helps to train on a floor to deal with the general medical stuff that accompanies cardiac pts. Just do what feels right for you & give yourself time to grow. It doesn't come overnite!