I will be beginning my 3 week (yes, you read that right, 3 week) orientation in the ICU on June 6. We actually will be doing a week of didactic/computer and meetings, then 3 weeks of working with our preceptors. I'm starting to get really nervous about my new job.
Here's some background: I started working in the ICU in December 2003. For the first 6 months, I was a Tech/Apprentice Nurse I. My duties were stocking, ensuring equipment was available, setting up rooms, helping with patient turns, etc. I also asked a LOT of questions and went to many, many different procedures, admits, and helped with transfers so I can familiarize myself with how the unit and nurse operates.
Then, in June of 2004, I began working as an Apprentice Nurse II. I was paired with a mentor and worked side by side with her through the 12 hour shifts, assessing, documenting, starting IV, dropping NG, foleys, etc. The only thing I couldn't do was give IV medications. I was responsible for all the responsibilities for one patient until December of this year, then my preceptor decided it was time for me to start "taking" 2 patients. I have seen and experienced a lot, gotten down the charting (one of the areas where I was most hesitant), and have become very comfortable in the ICU environment (comfortable, but still "scared", which I think is a good thing....to have some level of fear in such an environment).
My concern is this: after reading the board here, it seems as though everyone thinks I should be starting off in a med-surg environment with a 12 week or longer preceptorship. So even though I was feeling good about the experience I've received in the past 1 1/2 years in my unit, I am now feeling scared. I have to sign my contract for the 2 year internship on June 6 and if I don't fulfill the contract, I will have to pay back $2500. There really are no other units I would like to work, with the exception of maybe Neuro or CIC (I LOVED my rotation there). I am currently doing a rotation on Med-Nephrology where they have 7 patients, sometimes 8 and the chaos in that environment stresses the hell out of me. I don't like having CNA's doing my baths, vitals, etc. and would rather be responsible for total patient care. That's one of the many things I love about the ICU. I really enjoy my shifts in the ICU....in fact, I love the unit I'm in. The people are great (extremely helpful), the supervisors are terrific, I love taking care of the patients who are so acutely ill (I work in a Trauma/Med/Surg ICU) and I just plain love going to work.
So does my prior experience count for anything? The students that will be starting as new grads along with me will be getting a 5 week orientation because they started in January of this year as Apprentice Nurse II's. I feel as though they are even worse off then me because they have only had a few months of "real" experience in the ICU and are only getting 2 weeks longer that I am. Any advice, thoughts, opinions, etc. are greatly appreciated!!
Graduation May 24, 2005!!!
Apr 30, '05
I agree with the previous posters as well. I too started out in a position similar to yours. I have 6 months of working as a student nurse along side a preceptor (40 hours a week) before I graduated. I did have a longer orientation with more preceptorship after i graduated about 12 weeks. I felt pretty good when I graduated...like you, still scared but at least familiar with the environment. See if you can push to have the orientation extended if you feel like you need it...At the very least make sure that you have a "buddy" on each and every shift that you can turn to if you are feeling unsure or have a very unstable patient. If your unit is supportive, I think that you will do fine..if you have an unsupportive environment, I would ask for a longer orientation for sure-> support is crucial in this early phase of your new career...I think that you sound like you have gotten a good base and would do okay after a shortened orientation, but once you graudate and have the RN behind your name a longer orientation to your new role (title and all) never hurts! If you like ICU, I think that you should stay there...I too think that the floor work is craziness and have not alot of desire to be there (thank goodness there are people that love it...it just stresses me out...i need to be able to see my patient all the time and I too don't like delegating vitals/baths, etc to the CNAs- even the good ones...I guess its that control freak in me...)
Good luck in you decisions!
Last edit by zambezi on Apr 30, '05