How long does it take to be competent

by Nmink Nmink Member Nurse



I'm a new nurse who is also a new ICU nurse. I've been working for a few months and gotten some feedback from my supervisor, and it's not so great. Specifically my critical thinking. I've gotten reprimanded for doing things like bringing a bairhugger into a contact room when there was already one, having to refer to my documentation to tell a patients IV drip rates or vent settings. 


I was just wondering how long did it take other ICU nurses to be fully confident in their assessment skills? Its so hard to fully learn about a patient. 

Gentleman_nurse, MSN

Specializes in Behavioral health. Has 8 years experience.

I'm not an ICU nurse, but I know a lot about teaching and training. Assuming you are receiving regular assessment, practice, and feedback, it's at least one year. A few months is a drop in the bucket for a new nurse. 

BeatsPerMinute, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

I also started as a new grad in the ICU - approx 6/7 years ago. It took approx a year.

Journaling always helped. Sometimes it'd be a 5 min rant and sometimes it'd be nearly a novel of every single detail of how the day went. It allowed me to "get it out", and then it was there in writing for me to re-read... which forced me to reflect intentionally when in a better state of mind. It was better than kicking myself for the mistakes that I made and ruminating on the neg stuff and getting anxious over every little thing. I wish I kept up on the journal practice and its kinda funny looking back on what I thought was so intimidating and scary and hard. Just an idea 🙂 No matter what, it'll take time. You'll prob never bring a bare hugger into an ISO room again, will ya 😉 (and maybe you will save another new nurse from making the same mistake LOL. happens all the time...)  

JustAnotherNursemaybe, BSN, MSN

Has 8 years experience.

Give yourself some grace. Neither of those things are bad bad. You are still new and training your brain. I was 6 months in the ICU before I felt somewhat competent. I'm almost 2 years in and there are times when I need to check my charting before report "wait, was the levo at 13 or 14? I've been up and down 50 million times tonight" 

If there's something funky going on with my assessment, I'll still bring a more experienced nurse in to give me a second pair of eyes. We all do it. 

Honestly, I'm side eyeing your manager for reprimanded you over the Bair hugger thing. Like, bleach it and move on with your life. I cant believe that's even a blip on her radar...