To help you out with your quest for knowledge:
1. Slow down. You will not be able to know everything in your first year. One mistake many new ICU nurses make is getting the idea that they can read about all there is to know in critical care while still learning how to be an ICU nurse. You can read until the cows come home, but you will eventually reach a mind-dump situation. Another problem is if you read about something but then never get to see it or do it, you will forget that chunk of knowledge in due time. Start focusing on what you need to know first (ICU medications, modes of mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic monitoring, bedside ICU procedures, etc.) Once you have a grasp of these subjects and have had a chance to do hands on, then progress to the next step. I'm not sure how your ICU works, but in my CVICU, new nurses will not be caring for complex patients for at least six months (i.e. IABP, open heart patients, cardiac assist devices). Establish the basics of critical care first, then move on to more in depth areas.
2. The AACN offers the essentials of critical care orientation (ECCO) program that will provide you with quite of bit of useful information. The website is http://www.aacn.org/WD/ELearning/con...menu=Elearning
3. Any critical care textbook will serve as a good reference. I personally use Thelen's Critical Care Nursing: Diagnosis and Manangement
and High Acuity Nursing (5th Ed.)
. Both of these books are excellent at breaking down the pathophysiology and treatment (both medical and nursing) for conditions you see in the ICU. However, don't try to read these books like a novel. They are not designed in that fashion. Attempting to do so will often invoke stark raving boredom or sudden fits of narcolepsy. Pick a topic, read about it, then move on.
4. Take ACLS as soon as you can (if you haven't already). The text book for ACLS is also a great reference guide. Granted, if you are taking this class for the first time, do not come out thinking you are ready to run a code on your own. You have to go through a few codes before you can reliably put all that ACLS knowledge into coherent action. Hell, I still remember my first code in the ICU like it was yesterday. I must have stared at that damn V-Tach for a minute or two before I got over the denial that my patient was trying to die on me. Ugh, what a memory.
5. Be patient. Becoming a critical care nurse takes time and experience. Do not put unrealistic expectations on yourself. For example, you do not have to be the master of PA catheters by the end of your orientation. By the nature of the job, it can take 1-2 years before you see and encounter all the situations your ICU deals with.
6. Join the AACN. With your membership you will get a subscription to two magazines: Critical Care Nursing
and the Journal of Critical Care.
These are excellent publications. Being an AACN member will also get you discounts on fees for AACN conferences down the road.
That's about all I can think of right now. I'm sure other folks will fill in what I have forgotten. Good luck on your new career! I'm sure you'll love the world of perceived control that we call critical care. Take care!