How long will it take? Some say 2 years??

Specialties MICU


Hi All..

I graduated last spring, spend 6 months on a busy med-surg floor and now I am where I want to be .........ICU.

I have just gone through orientation. I have 2 or 3 shifts on my own. But still feel uneasy and nervous.....I know that it is expected and normal. I am taking a critical care nursing diploma course- will finish in spring 2002. I have been reading all my material over and over.

Many in the unit have told me it can take up to two years to feel secure and you agree???

I can imagine it will take time. I am also finding it much harder to fit into the group in the unit. On the floor, it was much more open and team like. In the ICU, well it seems more like a closed group. I defintely feel like I am on the outside..... looking in. Is this part of the process as well? Mind you, nobody is rude or anything. The holidays have not helped since I have not really started with my regular group yet either.

I am not a young kid- over 40....... so fitting is not really important, but I find it curious after being on the floor and fitting in so fast.

I would welcome any input.........thanks!


33 Posts

JMP - give it some time. I feel the best thing right now to fit it later is to be available. We depend heavily on teamwork in the ec and icu. When a new patient comes in, be the first to help get the patient set up. Don't ask if you can help, the answer will be no. Just go over, be there to help lift and straighten out lines, etc. Also, help cover for breaks without being asked. Most of all if you do not know, DO NOT BLUFF. Most of fitting in will come when others learn your integrity, not just skills. Of course, there are also some that never let anyone in, but that is usually the exception. Also, don't toot your own horn, believe me oth4ers notice when it needs tooting.!

Hope this helps


58 Posts

I have been in a small icu/ccu (10 beds),for the past three years(fulltime) and am now just beginning to feel competent and comfortable. Some staff have given me a run for my money, others have mentored me.We are all on a learning curve,especially with new technology,procedures, transfer of function, bls.acls, etc.that is a huge component of nursing in 2002.

If you aren't sure...ask.I would much rather work with a colleague who asks and seeks information than one who never asks and knows it all! sj.


16 Posts

Don't give up hope!!

I started as a new grad in an ICU where I had been a technician then I left after a year because I felt I wanted to see new things I ended up in a very fast pace ICU and with some very strong personalities that intimidated me!!!!! I wanted to leave on one of the days but I was going to prove myself and stayed.

Learning and experience take time 2 years maybe that is about right. ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS????? I feel I have gotten where I am because I do not hesitate to ask when I do not know something or when i need help before I am drowning. The nurses in ICU are a wealth of information and experience use them. They usually do not take to an overconfident new nurse.

If you can stick it out and prove yourself and gain their trust and respect you be fine. Give it time.


29 Posts

JMP - Hi and Good Luck!

I've been an ICU nurse for 26+ years... do most of the precepting of new nurses - lately, several GN's... lots of fun and I TOO do learn alot from every nurse I precept.....

All your med-surg skills and experience should be very helpful in ICU... All ICU patients need the same basic care, in addition to the more intensive, astute, and critical elements of care....

...There really isn't a universal timeframe for achieving a high degree of competency... Since we're all unique and mature individually as people - we will all blossom/develop as nurses in our own way/style... don't let anyone make you feel that you're not progressing according to their standard... Take time, now and then to look back to your preICU days and take pride in all you've learned in a short time...

... and ICU does need all types of nurses - those with super people skills and huge hearts, some with special talents in the technological end - vents, swan ganz, IABP's, etc..., a few walking textbooks, and even others whose claim to fame is their ability to prioritize, adapt, and remain calm when a crisis hits, and most with unique combinations of each...

I guess one of the main reasons I started in ICU was because I liked having the ability and time to properly do most all the things patients needed and many of the extras... wanted to be able to know my patients as people, their charts - labs, hx, course, etc..., their life and families... much more rewarding than a game of beat-the-clock... but, unfortunately we are now often playing beat-the-clock in ICU too...

....anyway, refer to your policies/ standards/ protocols often... ask alot of questions - BUT- CAUTION - be careful of those nurses who always seem to give you a definite answer, even if wrong... ...Know where to find your own answers - carry a pocketguide, PDC - *Checkmate, etc.. and refer to it often.... Never guess or take chances ---- ****When in doubt about anything, ALWAYS error on the side of safety!!!

.....Be patient and kind with yourself too.....


145 Posts

Originally posted by CindyCCRN

JMP - Hi and Good Luck!.....

...Know where to find your own answers - carry a pocketguide, PDC - *Checkmate, etc.. and refer to it often.... Never guess or take chances ---- ****When in doubt about anything, ALWAYS error on the side of safety!!!

.....Be patient and kind with yourself too.....

I agree with Cindy's whole post. I would emphesize knowing where to find the answers. Nobody knows everything, so you need multiple resources. Remember that the more you learn, the less you know.

I've discovered that when I start to get comfortable and secure is when I am prone to have a lapse and make a mistake. I think a certain amount of fear is a good thing. - Not that you should be perilyzed by it, but have that curiosity that keeps you on the edge of a heightened sense of learning ability. Always ready to ask the right question and to recognize the right answer, when you get it.

just my $ .02

ken :devil:

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