ED or ICU New Grad

Nurses General Nursing


Hi All! I am a new grad in Denver who is choosing between a job in the ED with HealthONE and the ICU with SCL. Interested in hearing perspective on which department people think is better to go into as well as with health organization! I am very high energy and fast paced, which draws me to the ED, and I like the wide patient population and especially trauma. I also really admire patient relationships and being there for them throughout their time of greatest need and know that I will gain a lot more in depth knowledge in the ICU. Any and all feedback is welcome!

How much structure do you like? ICU is a more structured environment. You have your one or two patients, do assessments, meds, turn every two hours and go through your day.

ED is more random. All ages, all diagnoses, and a nurse needs to be able to shift priorities quickly.

Specializes in Adult and pediatric emergency and critical care.

If your long term goal is to work in the ED I would take that opportunity, the ED is a very unique care environment and in many ways isn't easy to transition into or out of.

If your desire is to work in the ICU, a different unit, or are unsure of where you want to end up I think that the ICU is probably a better option. The ICU is going to teach you critical thinking, but will also afford you a more 'traditional' nursing environment that will set you up for success better in other care areas if you end up wanting to do something else.

Relationships are much shorter and superficial in the ED, we only have our patients for a couple of hours. That being said you still very much have interaction with patients, but if you want to see them over several days that is definitely something you won't find in the ED.

In my opinion how much you learn about meds, pathophys, et cetera is more about how invested you are rather than where you work. I think that ICU nurses tend to have more in depth knowledge because they have a more specialized environment with a smaller patient population and those nurses tend to be very invested in knowing ever detail about their patients. This isn't to say that ED nurses can't or don't have this level of knowledge, but the personality trait of needing to know every detail about something isn't reinforced in the ED and is much more rare. The ED will generally give you a more broad understanding of different disease processes among a larger patient population.

Both SCL and Healthone are large systems and the work environment is very different between their various hospitals. Both have larger and smaller hospitals. Both have hospitals that see more or less trauma, more or less specialty cases, et cetera.

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