How can I get into ICU straight out of school?


I am a junior nursing student planning to attend anesthesia school. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to get into ICU quickly in order to fulfil the one year minimum required for the nurse anesthesia program? Most of the hospitals where I live require a graduate nurse internship for ICU which binds you to the hospital for two years of servitude. I am ideally looking to get hired onto an ICU floor straight from school:yeah: or participate in a graduate nurse program that does not require more than a year of contracted work. I live in FL, if that helps.

Look forward to reading the suggestions.



135 Posts

Advice on how to get hired to an ICU position. . .um, apply to ICU for position? (sorry, it's late and I've had a long week:D)

I'm not in Florida so I can't speak for hospitals there, but I'd say keep looking for one that has what you want. I got hired into an ICU right out of school. My hospital didn't have a contract or anything, and they didn't have an internship or "official" new grad classes, but they have a really good orientation. 3 months where you are paired with a preceptor, and then after that you and the preceptor take like 3 pts between you (partnering) and then eventually you're on your own!

Where ever you decide to work, you need to make sure they have some type of organized preceptor/orientation set up. My hospital had classes for me to take, they just didn't necessarily have them pre-scheduled and I didn't have to do things in a particular order. I did quite well in nursing school, but I can tell you getting out there "for real" in the ICU is a huge learning curve; you will realize just how little you really know :bugeyes:

1 yr is the minimum work requirment, and some people get in with that. I interviewed with just over a yr experience and will have about 2yrs experience when I start classes. Some people say you need 3 to 5 yrs to be able to do well. We shall see how I do! :) I'm expecting it to be very very VERY difficult (but I'm looking forward to it!). Don't get so caught up in the time. Make sure you fine the right place to work, a place where that fits your needs for learning and working. You spend a lot of time with your co-workers in some really crazy crazy circumstances; when you have a group of people that works well together it really makes life and work awesome. I know you want to get into grad school as soon as possible (who doesn't?) but really try and get good ICU experience, even if it takes you a little longer than what you were hoping. It can only help you in the long run.

Good luck!


34 Posts

Specializes in Neuro ICU, Cardiothoracic ICU.

Getting into the ICU right after school is a competitive task in most states I've worked. But nursing is still seemingly desperate for bodies and the last two ICU's I worked in were staffed nearly half by RN's with less than a years experience or fresh from school.

ICU's that hire new grads usually have high turnover because people go there to get experience for further schooling. Usually these are the best ICU's to work for (usually teaching facilities) and their consortium or internship is required to work on their unit. With the consortium they usually require 2 years commitment. Difficult to get around this as you are an expensive investment.

I went through a program at The University of Utah when I lived there and they required a 2 year commitment or required paying back the 12,000 dollars it took to train us if we left early. Yup, 12 grande! But if your trying to get to CRNA school, 12 grand is just a drop in the bucket. And they would prorate the payment owed based on how long you stayed. If you stayed for a year then you would only have to pay back 6,000. The extra year you are going to be making money as a CRNA would more than make up for this.

So, if you are dead set on getting into the ICU right out of school I would try to precept in an ICU and then apply to consortiums/internships all over the country in trauma 1 TEACHING FACILITIES. There are many good ones out West. The floor I work for here in Seattle hires new grads like they are going out of style. Then apply to school after 6 months to 1 year of experience. Odds are you won't get in on your first try (in which case you won't have to worry about the 2 year commitment) and even if you do get in on your first try most schools don't start for nearly a year after interviews take place. At least I've found that to be the case. So by the time you start school you'll have been on your unit nearly two years and can pay back the pittance amount charged you when you ditch early.

Don't know if this helps but its how I've seen things done in a lot of areas successfully.

good luck!


21 Posts

I never thought about simply just repaying the contract after a year. That's a very good option to have.


1,714 Posts

I live in FL and was hired into ICU right out of school by a major hospital. I did have to sign a 2 year (plus orientation = 2.5 year) commitment, but it's only $2500 if I leave early. I'm planning on working out my commitment for the experience though, so I don't mind it - that feels like just enough time off between graduating and going back. All you have to do is apply! It helps if you have some experience at the hospital already, as a tech/extern, as many hospitals hire existing staff preferentially. Also, many facilities will only hire new grads into ICUs if they did a preceptorship in one in school. Try to work and/or precept in a unit at your first choice hospital, it will give you the best chance of being hired right away. Don't worry too much about the money, as others have said, since MOST hospitals will prorate it - do look at the fine print before you sign anything though.


167 Posts

Try applying for a nurse tech position in an ICU while you are in school, preferably @ a big teaching hospital. Most ICU's would rather hire their own staff into the position first. Also, be pro-active. Make a list of all the hospitals in your area that you would like to work @. Then, call the managers of the ICU directly by calling the units and asking to be transfered to the manager's office. You will most likely get their voice mail. Just leave a detailed message about yourself and your interest to work in their ICU (minus the part about going to anesthesia school). Most managers are very responsive to this. Anytime I have ever wanted a position, I pursued it this way, and got evey single job. Just be a g-getter, and I guarantee you'll be working in an ICU when you graduate. Hope this helps.

Has 12 years experience.

Sounds like a familiar situation. I've heard though from quite few CRNA's, that the more experience you get before you enter the program the less difficult it will be. Additionally this prior experience (2-5 years depending) also helps considerably once you're on the job as a CRNA in dealing with doctors & their idiosyncrasies & the many other issues that arise on a daily bases. You can learn plenty from a book, but the knowledge gained via experience is worth so much more. Good luck!


33 Posts

There is so much to learn in the ICU. And I think the more you learn in the setting the finer CRNA you will become.

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