Preparing to Apply to ICU

  1. I am a newer nurse. I'm roughly 7 months into my first job. In January/February when I hit the big 1 year mark, I want to start applying to ICUs. I applied to ICUs straight out of school, but the only ICU job offer I got was in an area I didn't want to relocate to. Instead, I accepted a job on a progressive care unit with telemetry.

    I guess one of the reasons I didn't really get any ICU job offers was because when I graduated I wasn't prepared enough for the ICU. I graduated from Bloomsburg University, which does not have a critical care clinical rotation. Instead, they have us shadow in the ICU for two days. (We still have Adult Health 2, which is basically a critical care course, but the corresponding clinical rotation focuses on assuming a full patient assignment on a med/surg floor). I also did not do an internship or externship in an ICU. So during my interviews when they were asking me about my experiences during school, I was really at a loss.

    So far on my floor, I have had experience with telemetry, chest tubes, stroke patients, withdraw patients, trachs, dressing changes, drips (heparin, insulin, amiodarone), and everything else encompassed in the med/surg nine yards. I have had 6-7 patients on dayshift and 7-8 patients on nightshift. We have no step-down ICU at my hospital so I'm often caring for high-acuity patients. (Nurse-patient ratios are getting a little better now that staffing is improving.) I'm comfortable communicating with residents, attendings, case managers, and other members of the healthcare team. I'm signed up for an ACLS class in October and a PALS class in November.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is what are my chances of getting into an ICU when I have a year of experience? Will they mostly just ask me about my year of med/surg, or will they dig up my lack of experience during nursing school again? Also, is there anything else I can do to try to fluff up my resume other than ACLS and PALS? Finally any advice on interview questions? "So tell me about yourself!" and "Why do you want to work here?" are by far my LEAST favorite questions to try to answer because I'm never sure what the "right" answer is.
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    About mph53953

    Joined: Dec '16; Posts: 4
    from PA , US


  3. by   CCU BSN RN
    If you are itching to get off your current unit and into the ICU after a mere 6-7 months after your first nursing job, it makes you look like a prospective CRNA hopeful. In manager speak: I can hire this person with zero critical care experience, pay through the nose to orient them and in 2 years when they're finally getting good, they're going to abruptly leave to enter an academic program that will flat out refuse to let them work for 3 years while they're in school.

    Also, and please don't take this the wrong way, you're coming across as pretty over confident. You may not like your current floor or level of care, but there's no way you've learned all you can at your current floor. You're still very task-oriented (which is safe and prudent at your experience level), but your entire argument is essentially that since you've changed a few DSDs and given Amio and insulin gtts, you've learned all you can out of med/surg. You've got to learn how to tell when a patient is going to crump, have to figure out why, what you think they need, and do it all before they get massively unstable and/or code.

    Just my .02