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I went to an interview recently for a patient care tech position and was offered my choice of working on the CCU or PCU. I am a nursing student and I am wondering which unit would I learn or benefit the most from? I know I won't be actually doing anything but cna type stuff, but she did mention I will have the opportunity to learn as much as I want while working on the unit I choose.

Looking for any kind of advice on this subject. If you are working or have worked in either of these units, what kind of patients do you normally see?

Lev, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency - CEN. Has 7 years experience.

You will learn a lot from both units. Honestly, I would go with the unit that is more likely to hire you after you graduate.

umcRN, BSN, RN

Has 4 years experience.

I worked in both the cardiac icu and their step down when I was in nursing school. I learned a lot from both units but to be completely honest I spent more time in the ICU stocking carts than any kind of patient care. Find out what they have their techs do in the icu because it may not involve a lot of patient care. I learned a little when nurses had time and liked to teach but I got a lot more confident in patient interactions on the step down unit. On step down I did vitals, I&O, glucose checks, ambulating, toileting/bathing, assisted with dressing changes and those nurses were more likely to teach me stuff or have me observe "cool" dressing changes or chest tube removals.

That being said I now work in an ICU (and have since graduating) and love it and know I could never work on a floor but that experience I had as a tech was a huge help in nursing school (and no i now work peds and do not work on the unit I was a tech on, not even same state).

I currently work in a PCU and I enjoy it! A lot of total care patients, but our nursing team is VERY hands on and helpful - we wash together, boost together and several of the nurses are clinical instructors so I get to watch (and sometimes participate) in things that the regular aides (I'm consider a student nurse aide) don't get to do...I put foleys in and discharge, pull IV lines, etc...

my manager doesn't hire new grads (unfortunately) but I've had really great experiences (especially working nights because the scrutiny of management isn't there)...

In our ICU, we only rarely have techs, but when we do, their jobs are to help bathe and stock the carts. I do know that in our PCU, they have techs that bathe patients, get patient vitals, and other things. In my opinion, I think you would acquire more knowledge in PCU. But I guess it just depends on the hospital.

turnforthenurse, MSN, NP

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

It depends on the hospital. Where I work now, techs very rarely work in the ICU. If they are needed, it's because the floor has a lot of patients on insulin gtts and blood sugar checks need to be done Q30min to Q1H. They also help with baths. At another hospital, I worked as a tech. My home unit was med-surg, but I frequently floated to MICU/SICU and ICU step-down units. Most patients had central lines but I would start IVs or draw blood if needed. In the mornings I would go around and prep all of the tube feeding bags (for patients who were on them) because they were always changed at that time. For the patients who needed blood sugars, I did those. I did dressing changes, wound care, trach care/suctioning among other things. Nurses often did their own vitals or I&O's because they preferred to do them, which is fine. If I noticed any abnormals or if I noticed a drain or foley was getting full, I would empty it and tell the primary RN. Otherwise I just helped out where needed, or I would do a 1:1. I once sat with a patient with an IABP in place, so that was pretty neat, especially when the primary RN took the time to explain some of the settings and wave forms to me. I did learn a lot floating to the ICUs because the nurses would teach. The ICU step-down/PCU was similar to my experience as a tech working in ICU.

Where I work now, the techs on PCU do vitals, check blood sugars, help patients with basic needs/care/toileting, help answer call lights, help bring patients down for tests, help with I&O's. Techs on both units help with stocking supplies. I think no matter where you go you will learn a lot.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 9 years experience.

To me, PCU is the perfect place for a budding nurse. You see everything.

Thanks for all the advice! I wound up choosing the PCU and start on Monday!


PCU is a rough place, be prepared.

Choose the PCU, you'll learn lots! (personally, I hated PCU years ago when I had clinical) congrats!


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