Changing Specialities... Unsure

by sjyRN, BSN, RN (New) New

Specializes in ICU.

Hi I'm a nurse with 1 year of ICU experience (Started right as COVID was starting up) with a ICU internship before graduating. ( So been in the same ICU since Aug. 2019) I work Night Shift in a cardiac/ COVID ICU and I applied for an Evening Shift PACU position WAY closure to my apartment (5 min drive vs 40 min drive).

If anyone saw my last post back in July or so you would know that I hate working in the ICU. Not sure if it's just my ICU or all ICUs in general. I like critical care, I don't like the poor unsafe staffing, all the poop, night shift, and keeping a body alive for days. After doing research and debating just leaving nursing all together I applied for a PACU position. I have an interview coming up and what I have read about PACU is you still keep that critical care monitoring aspect but don't seem to have the other things I don't like about ICU. 

The main issue I'm having is when I read "PACU is where ICU nurses go to die."

I just feel like I'm making a mistake, like I should suck it up and stay in the ICU even though I truly just hate my life. I think I should stick it out for 2 years but recently I've just been driving home crying from exhausting and I have no energy to do anything outside work because I just think about work and feel sick. It is taking a physical and mental toll. I thought about going to another hospital or travel but the things I don't like about ICU are going to be everywhere and at least where I am now I like the people I work with. Also I'm in a 2 year contract so I'm trying to just move in the company I'm at.

I just want a job where there isn't so much suffering. Everyone said wait a year so I did and it still sucks. Now they say wait 2 years and I don't think I can make it that far. I feel like a horrible person for wanting to leave the ICU. Everyone I work with is like "Super Nurse" and I'm just not getting the same enjoyment. I feel like a failure but I'm just so tired of it all. I will probably stay PRN at my facility ICU since COVID is still so big and they need the help. I just cant do it all the time. 

I guess the reason I post this is to hear from others who have flipped specialties and how was it for you. Am I wrong for going to PACU? I'll try anything so if anyone wants to share their experience!



Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 10,663 Posts

18 hours ago, sjyRN said:

"PACU is where ICU nurses go to die."

I wouldn't buy too much into this. Is it likely a lighter work load than in an ICU setting? Sometimes it can be, but this is going to be very dependent on the type of facility and types of patient the PACU cares for. Unlike ICU, you'll be getting one in, one out, another in, another one out, lather rinse repeat. It can be a different type of pace.

18 hours ago, sjyRN said:

Am I wrong for going to PACU?

If it's an area that interests you, it's never wrong to try for it.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU. 536 Posts

I actually felt similar when I made the move from ER to pre-op/PACU. I had a few people say that’s where ER and ICU nurses go to retire. Now...I am a second career nurse, but I am definitely on the younger side. Quite a few decades before I retire LOL. I felt like I was giving up or that I was less than a nurse by changing specialities. However, I think one thing you need to consider is if things in your life are different to where ICU is no longer a good job for you. Maybe you are dealing with other challenges in life or maybe you never really did like the ICU.  And that’s OK! Actually in my department, there is a wide variety of ages. I would say most are on the middle aged to older side, but the younger ones are starting to accumulate. Some made the move because they had kids at home and decided the stress of the job wasn’t worth it....others hated doing night shift and liked the hours better.....others felt their nursing license was on the line in the ER or ICU....or were sick of the verbal and physical abuse in the ER. The list goes on and on.


Do what’s best for you - doesn’t matter what others think. You may love PACU! If not, it’s not a big deal changing specialties again.