Considerations for first critical care job search?


Hello all,

Critical care nursing is what drew me into this profession, and after my second clinical rotation in med-surg, I now have confirmation that this is where I belong. I plan to take the NCLEX next spring and should finish the BSN soon thereafter.

Now from those in the critical-care nursing world, what are some considerations I should keep in mind as I begin the process of job hunting? Is there anything you wish someone had told you as a newbie?

Has 33 years experience.

Way back when in 1981 I entered the world of critical care as a graduate nurse. At that time the hospitals were short-staffed and had the educational funds to educate/train new grads. I learned so very much and was exposed to everything immagineable. Now, the nursing world is different and usually a new graduate cannot enter critical care until they have had at least 2 years of med/surg experience. It mostly depends on the hospital and where you are geographically located. I believe some new grads on this site have been able to go into critical care. You have to get the basics before you can do critical care in today's world. However, I will tell you it is perfectly doable as a new graduate because I was able to do it. You need to really focus on your A&P, learn lab values and how they correlate to the medical conditions, take an advanced physiology course if you can. When you take your pharmacology class concentrate on how medications affect the vascular/circulatory system/kidneys etc. Try to problem solve as much as you can, learn the critical thinking skills it takes to help patients recover from an acute event. These are skills you can start to apply as a student by putting all the pieces of the puzzle together: the physical illness leads to-->medications treat and how do they affect the functioning of body systems-->what am I looking for with my physical assessment--> how do the vital signs reflect all the treatments and how do the treatments affect them. Apply all this to a care plan and outcomes expected to occur with treatment. It is the nursing process in action and will benefit you if you learn how to apply it as a student. After you achieve everything you need to graduate and pass boards, get your BLS from American Heart Association and then work on your ACLS. Take an EKG class before you take ACLS. If you work on a telemetry med floor it will help prepare you also for more critical environments. Good Luck!!

Has 33 years experience.

I was not sure if you could take the NCLEX before you finish your BSN, you might have to look into that!!


281 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

@firstinfamily, Yes, some jurisdictions allow the NCLEX after Associates, which is the plan. I looked into it a lot!

And the rest, will definitely do all that. Thanks for the guidance! I do not expect to waltz right into a critical care job straight out of the BSN, so I am looking for steps to take from there that will lead in that direction. Thanks for all the help.

Specializes in Neuro Intensive Care. Has 1 years experience.

I have my associates in nursing and got my first job in the Neuro ICU. I've had a great experience and would recommend anyone who can handle going into critical care right away to go ahead and go for it!! My orientation was longer than most, but I am a functioning part of my unit and couldn't imagine doing anything else. Good luck!