Quote from Castiela
I personally can't imagine going straight from being a new grad into icu. Even less so without a full bachelors. I personally think it's a good idea to have a med/surg background to consolidate your nursing skills and critical thinking skills before taking care of the sickest of the sick patients. I don't think it's a ploy to fill understaffed positions. Just because it is frequently done does not mean it is the best way to be done or the safest.
And you say this based on what? Not to mention that ICUs are not always "the sickest of the sick." New grads should not be hired into level 1, extremely high acuity ICUs the vast majority of the time, but the vast majority of ICUs are not that. Even still, my best friend started at a level 1 ICU as a new grad and did perfectly fine. My preceptor/charge nurse and our assistant manager both started on our unit.
Titrating multiple vasoactive gtts, vent management, CRRT, deep understanding of pathologies, etc. are difficult concepts to grasp at first but with proper orientation are no more vexing than any other skill. Many ICUs won't get more than a few truly high acuity patients at a time. Most deathly ill patients are transferred to a level 1 trauma center, and those aren't the only ICU jobs OP can apply for. Our surgical stepdown unit is the same acuity as the surgical ICU at my old job.
Sure, it was a big learning curve but me and my colleagues achieved a fairly comprehensive understanding of these skills within a few months. You either underestimate yourself and your peers, or overestimate how difficult critical care nursing is.
Taking care of two ICU patients is not remotely the same as taking care of 7 floor patients. At most you can gain some skills like inserting NG tubes or starting IVs, but few of my colleagues are great with IVs and placing NG tubes is basically a reflex by, say, the third time. If you are willing to learn then you should be able to knock out tons of these by the time you're off orientation.