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How do I become a critical care nurse?

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by mark1973 mark1973 (New Member) New Member

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PMFB-RN said:
*** It's not about skills you will learn, it's about building relationships and networking. Decide where you want to work and do everything you can to go to that hospital. Get to know the nurses and managers at that hospital if you want to work there as a nurse. They are more likely to hire people they know and like as they will have some idea of your work ethic and "teachability".

Thanks so much! I'm working on that now before school so I know which sites to pick; at least I'm on the right track.

What other floors should we be getting to know people in, in case we can't start out in ICU; what's the best to learn "on the way up" to ICU?

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PMFB-RN has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Traum Rapid Response.

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studentinnursing said:
Thanks so much! I'm working on that now before school so I know which sites to pick; at least I'm on the right track.

What other floors should we be getting to know people in, in case we can't start out in ICU; what's the best to learn "on the way up" to ICU?

*** Stepdown or telementry.

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aehart has 2 years experience.

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I know this topic kind of died down, but I just wanted to throw my two cents out there. I live and work in NE Ohio. I'm a tech in a Level 1 Trauma center. A lot of new grads that I know get hired into the ICU's around here Some hospitals I have heard that do hire new grads are Akron City, Cleveland Clinic, Metro, and UH. I think getting in is all a matter of how you did in school, how your clinical instructors saw you (for letters of reference), your ambition, and your ability to impress the heck out of people. It is certainly possible and it certainly does happen in my neck of the woods, it just takes a lot of work.

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No. I'm sorry. Not true...in my state anyway. The nurse must have 2 years of Acute care experience to be considered for critical care. To have the best chance of getting a Critical Care nursing position; the nurse must already have 2 years or more in critical care nursing. The nurse must have the ACLS and the PALS. The nurse must know how to read and interpret 12 lead EKG, know and understand all drips used in ICU, what they are for and what the recommended dosage is. The nurse also must have experience with pts on vents and under sedation. I can't speak for every state out there. But, I can most certainly speak for mine. No nurse manager is going to train a new nurse for ICU. In fact, here you will have a difficult time finding a Med-Surg manager willing to train a new nurse. The health care organizations here do not want to train. That costs too much money and takes too much time. So, they want nurses with good experience who can hit the floor running without any added training.

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PMFB-RN has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Traum Rapid Response.

5,143 Posts; 68,994 Profile Views

burns636 said:
No. I'm sorry. Not true...in my state anyway. The nurse must have 2 years of Acute care experience to be considered for critical care. To have the best chance of getting a Critical Care nursing position; the nurse must already have 2 years or more in critical care nursing. The nurse must have the ACLS and the PALS. The nurse must know how to read and interpret 12 lead EKG, know and understand all drips used in ICU, what they are for and what the recommended dosage is. The nurse also must have experience with pts on vents and under sedation. I can't speak for every state out there. But, I can most certainly speak for mine. No nurse manager is going to train a new nurse for ICU.quote]

*** I totally under stand if you are not comfortable saying what state you live in but I would really appreciate knowing what state it is that has such backwards and old fashioned ideas about ICU nurses. I wonder is it strictly about money or is evidenced based practice not valued in your state?

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I want to go into the ICU but at my hospital, you have to work nights in the ICU to start with. I don't do nights well. Can anyone suggest a way to get ICU experience without having to do nights? Even the cardiac unit on my floor hires on to nights first. Thanks. (I've been on a med/surg floor for 4.5 yrs.)

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Sorry to sound stupid, but when you guys are saying new grads, are you referring to "RN" only or those with their BSN as well? Does having your BSN better your chances even though you may not have all experience? Thanks for any insight!

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PMFB-RN has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Traum Rapid Response.

5,143 Posts; 68,994 Profile Views

spring hopeful said:
Sorry to sound stupid, but when you guys are saying new grads, are you referring to "RN" only or those with their BSN as well? Does having your BSN better your chances even though you may not have all experience? Thanks for any insight!

*** There are some hospitals where ADN - BSN is irrelevant. And even a few hospitals like mine that do not hire new grad BSNs into the Critical Care Nurse Residency, ADNs only. However I believe in most areas / hospitals a BSN not only gives you a better chance, it might be the only way as some short sighted hospitals have gone to BSN only hiring for all their RN positions. Many more are "BSN preferred".

However the BSN is certainly no guarantee and when I say a better chance I mean better than a similarly qualified ADN new grad, not a good chance in general.

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I'm a new RN graduate and was just offered a position in the ICU. Prior to getting this offer, I have not worked in the hospital or any experience as a CNA. I applied to many positions in a few hospitals and had not received a call for an interview. Luckily, I had a friend who worked in one of the hospital and she gave me contact information for HR. I called HR 3 times before I got my interview (definitely need to be persistent). I interviewed with the unit manager and was asked to go back to shadow a nurse. The idea behind that was so that I got familiar with the unit and the nurses, and the nurses could become familiar with me. I feel that I was able to get the job because I was persistent, repeatedly expressed to them that I was really interested in ICU, and I showed them I'm excited to learn and grow.

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Coming from a CNA, pre-nursing student, this is all GREAT information and I really hope many more people out there will keep giving their two cents on becoming an new grad ICU nurse because that's what I am going for. All the input is appreciated in so many ways. Thank you.

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26 Posts; 1,893 Profile Views

New grad, in my understanding, means anyone who graduated from nursing school, and it's their 1st job as a nurse. It doesn't discriminate if you have an associate's or bachelor's degree -- just that it's your first job as a nurse.

I hate to come back with this but I am still having the worst time trying to get into ICU/critical care in general. I don't do well on nights and most of these jobs for 1st-timers in critical care want you to work nights. Does anyone know of any units hiring for days in ICU or other critical care please? Or has anyone traveled and gotten trained in critical care as a traveler? Thanks a lot!

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Feb 16, '10 by medicalma'am's

"My hospital hires graduate nurses into ICU. We have a three month

(at least) preceptorship and critical care classes once a week. Once I

was on my own the stress level was high. I had loads of experienced

nurses to consult and never was made to feel I was asking a dumb

question. The key is the percentage of 'new' nurses there are on a

shift compared to experienced nurses. "

what hospital do you work at. i am in nyc

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