Do new grads belong in the ICU?

Specialties MICU



I got hired to the Thoracic ICU in a major heart hospital...basically my dream job! Interviewed with the clinical manager and just really liked her! The hours are great, the staff has alot of autonomy and gets alot of respect, the pay is blowing my mind, I LOVE cardiac stuff, I am WAY excited and very confident about pt. care, but...

I am SO nervous!:uhoh3: What did I get myself into now?

I have LOTS of Paramedic experience, so not too much rattles my cage anymore, but there is just so many new pieces of equipment to learn about. The thought of all those monitors and gadgets and drips (oh my) are a bit overwhelming right now. The manager was very reassuring, and I will get lots of training and orientation (months of it actually), but in reality, do new grads do "okay" in an ICU environment?

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Do new grads do OK?

It depends on the new grad ... and it depends on the ICU. Some ICU's are accustomed to hiring new grads, have great orientation programs for them, and nurture them along as they make that transition from student to professional nurse. It sounds as if your new employer might be such a place. Other ICU's are not very supportive of new grads and have a poor track record of helping them develop into happy, healthy, competent nurses.

I would recommend that any new grad interviewing for an ICU job ask not only about the orientation program itself, but also ask how many new grads successfully complete orientation... and how many stay in the job for over a year. I would try to get a sense of whether or not those new grads hired in the past 2 or 3 years are happy, healthy, competent nurses who are satisfied with their careers and with their choice to work in that particular ICU. If the answer is "yes," then I would not hesitate to take the job. However, if the answer seems to be "no," well, fore-warned should be fore-armed.

Since you have already accepted the job, it might be a little late to ask the question, but you can probably get a good idea from what was said at the interview, what you noticed about the unit as you toured the unit, etc. You should also have an opportunity to speak with the unit educator soon and you could ask her.

Good luck,


Specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management.
... I am SO nervous!:uhoh3: What did I get myself into now?...

Sorta why I'll be accepting a tech position in our ICU when the spot opens. That way, in effect, I'll be securing an 18-month orientation before earning my nursing degree.

Most ICUs don't hire right out of school. Our's doesn't, unless you have tech or other relevant experience.

The fact that you're onboard tells me they've got full confidence in your ability to master the adventure you've committed to. So, gather yourself and let 'em have it.

Good luck!


243 Posts

Just a few words of encouragement ... I started out as a new grad in a surgical ICU 5 years ago, and have been precepting new nurses (whether new grad, or new ICU nurse) in my past 2 CTICU's without difficulty. If you are willing to listen, learn, and ask lots of questions, you should have no problems.

You'll be working with assertive/aggressive nurses who expect you to take your training seriously (which means going home and reading up on material you're learning about) and becoming an excellent addition to their unit!

I think going straight into critical care from nursing school was the right thing for me to do. Everyone is different, so if you start to doubt yourself too much, make sure you let your manager know. She may be able to leave you on a longer orientation if you think you need it. Good luck!


334 Posts



583 Posts

New Grads do belong in the ICU as long as their are adequate support systems there to allow the new grad to grow professionaly. I grad in May 2003 and got my first job in a major CTICU also. We do 15-20 CT cases a day, we are a 41 bed unit that admits LVADS, RVADS what hospital in H-town did you get your first job out of school in ICU? I am very interested in ICU right out of school and am also considering relocating to Houston from Dallas after I graduate. What kind of new grad pay does this hospital have? Thanks in advance.



334 Posts

Go Yo Yo Yo


335 Posts

I work at The Methodist Hospital Debakey Heart center. I really like it here. The Texas Medical Center is great. The unit is very supportive and the pay is great. I would definitly recommend working here.

Don't hear that too often!


3,778 Posts

Specializes in Trauma,ER,CCU/OHU/Nsg Ed/Nsg Research.

Congrats, Ladybug! You know you're a brain- you'll do just fine. Just keep your eyes & ears open, and ask questions if you need to.

I'm so happy for you!


239 Posts

I too am a new grad going to an ICU position. I feel that it will be an excellent learning experience for me as a new nurse. I think what makes me nervous though is that fact the patients are so critical and ICU nurses have to be on top of everything every minute. But that is also a challenge to me, which I love. The other good thing about an ICU is that the ones in my area are very selective about which new grads they take, so only a few new grads are hired on. That means the majority of the nursing staff are experienced, reliable support staff for you to learn and have support from.

Congrats on your job ladybug! You can do it.


90 Posts

Congrats, Ladybug! You know you're a brain- you'll do just fine. Just keep your eyes & ears open, and ask questions if you need to.

I'm so happy for you!

Thanks for the vote of confidence...I just took boards yesterday and I really needed an ego boost!:crying2:

I thought I was ready, but I tell you, those questions DID NOT even resemble the ones in both of my study guides! The test shut off at 75 questions and I think that there were about 5 questions that I KNEW at that moment that I had answered correctly. :uhoh21: I had to throw up in the parking lot afterwards, but I think that I might have a " tummy bug" now.

Thanks to all for all of the advice; does anyone else have any books or reference material for cardiothoracic or critical care nursing ? I'm not afraid of the patients; just all of the machines that keep them ALIVE!

Excuse me, I have to go now now so that I can vomit and finish up the rest of my panic attack. :chair:


183 Posts

Specializes in ICU/Cosmetic Sx/Lasers/Education/School/.

I am also a new graduate starting in the ICU. I love a challenge and I feel that I will get that working in critical care. When I did my first rotation in the ICU I was'nt very excited about it because I was clueless about everything. It was my first year of nursing school. The second go 'round I really enjoyed it. It was also at a different hospital than before. My instructor told me that I belong in the ICU, she said I would be wasting my skills in Medical Surgical unit. She really made me feel confident about working in the ICU. There is so much to learn and the hospital that I accepted the position at has a 16 week orientation. I think that is wonderful. They were very competitive. I had to bug them for a month to even get an interview. They kept telling me they already had the new grad positions filled for the ICU. They said I could call back in a week. Meanwhile, I emailed the recruiter a resume and told her to check it out. That night around 7pm she called me and said they were make a position for me. I went in for the interview with her and the ICU nurse manager who hired me on the spot. I more or less interviewed them. They loved it. They said no one has ever came in there so organized with questions typed up for them. I had 22 questions. If you really want something you have to go for it!!!!!!!!! That is what I did. I had several job offers, but not at the hospital I wanted. So I took on the challenge and now I have the unit I wanted in the hospital I wanted to work at. I start in September!:) :p :) I am very excited about it.


This topic is now closed to further replies.

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X