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How to Prepare for First Day on the Job


Specializes in Pediatric Nurse.

I am a senior nursing student getting ready to graduate, and my first job will be in the cardiac ICU. I want to spend these next few months preparing, and I was thinking that I am not too familiar with basic nursing skills such as emptying drains (I did this all in clinical, but not too much experience). My school offers a great program with videos on how to perform those basic skills, but there are so many of them that I dont know where to start!

My main question for all of those ICU nurses is: What do you suggest I review? What types of drains do you see often? Is there anything else you see often that I can look up? I want to brush up on as many skills as I can so my future unit knows they do not have to teach me everything!!

Nimrodel, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatric/Mental Health, Med-Surg, Corrections. Has 3 years experience.

I do not have ICU experience but I am a fairly recent graduate and honestly I have always struggled a lot with skills (in that I can do them, but it seems to take me a couple more tries than other people to get them). Personally, I learn next to nothing from skills videos. I learn a bit more from watching in person but really what I need to do is do them for myself, ideally repeatedly close together ish to help it stick, with someone watching. IF you are someone who you can watch a skill on video and then you know how to do it then I don’t have suggestions really, because I don’t have ICU experience. But what I came here to say is that I think you’d probably be better off reviewing content such as in depth pathophys or pharmacology, arrhythmias, etc  - my nursing program was pretty broad on these, not nearly to the depth you’d need in a cardiac ICU - as opposed to skills. 

Jasonat6034, BSN, RN

Specializes in Surgical Intensive Care. Has 3 years experience.

Your eagerness to learn is exactly what your future co-workers want to see. Honestly, as a new nurse, expectations of your nursing knowledge are  low. Not that you aren't knowledgeable, but nursing is like 80% on the job learning. As long as you ask questions and don't do anything you are not confident in doing safely on your own, you will do fine. If you really want to review, definitely review EKG rhythm interpretation, Post-CABG care, neurological assessments, stroke/MI signs and symptoms, pulse assessments, and lab values. For lab values, what I tend to focus on the most are potassium, calcium/ionized cal, troponin, hgb/hct, BUN, creat, WBC, and ABGs. When I started my first nursing job and when I came to the ICU I asked my nurse managers the patient population and what content I should review. Both provided power-points and other very useful resources for me. Also, most hospitals have mandatory education classes that you will have to take throughout your first year. A year or two from now you will look back and think, why was I ever worried. 

Best of luck on your nursing journey!