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ICU/CVICU practicum

I am required to choose my unit for my senior practicum in my RN program next week. Can anyone who either works in ICU/CVICU, etc. OR someone who was a student in an ICU/CVICU practicum give me some advice as far as what it would be like for a senior nursing student in her final quarter in a unit like that? The thought of it is scary, but exciting. We have a local hospital with a terrific 26week internship program, but one of the requirements is you must have your senior practicum in an ICU of some sort.



Specializes in ICU.

In the CVICU you will see primarily post open heart patients, but also patients with every other problem under the sun because they need ICU care and the other ICUs were full. MI's, strokes, head injuries, diabetic problems, sepsis, drug over doses, it could be anything! (well, not kids or burns) In the other ICUs you will *NEVER* see an open heart patient fresh from surgery. In CVICU you'll see all the life support machines that have been invented, and work with every drug known to man (even investigational drugs not yet cleared by the FDA). Sure, it's scary as hell, but that's what you want, right? :yeah:I'm not knocking the neuro, cardiac, or medical ICU's - lord knows that they get their share of train wrecks, but if you're looking for the adrenaline rush that you see on TV ... plus THEN SOME, CVICU is where you should be.

I've just finished my first day in one of the most renowned cardiothoracic ICUs in the country. It's my third final placement of my degree. & it was amazing.

No advice (as yet) but word on the street is it's going to be an incredible placement. In the short time I was on the unit today I saw a patient with an LVAD, a day 2 post double lung transplant, a heart transplant pt on dialysis, a day 14 post CAGs/AVR/MVR getting trached tomorrow, patient with an LVAD and a 20-year-old on ECMO.

Can't wait to go back tomorrow!


Specializes in ICU.

Yikes! :D Just curious, how many beds in this ICU?


Specializes in Cardiovascular Critical Care, Trauma One.

I currently work as a bedside/charge nurse in cardiovascular critical care, and we love our students! As already stated, you will have a chance at seeing every type of ICU patient under the sun on CV. Our students love how broad-spectrum our patients are! Open-hearts are the majority of our patient load, some units include heart transplants, lung transplants and VADS. My best advice to you is to tuck that anxiety under your belt and jump in! Check out the different types of machines (CRRT, arctic suns, VADS) and the plethora of lines (Pulmonary Artery caths, SVV monitors, lumbar drains). Enjoy the experience, and use your staff nurse for all the info you could ever need!

8 beds in cardiothoracic, maybe 15 on the other side which is general/neuro.

The two cases we took today from theatre were a heart and a double lung... transplants. & everyone was so blase about the whole thing. & here's me jumping out of my skin because of my goodness these two patients have just gotten new hearts/lungs.. but they see it all the time! We had two old heart transplants and one three day post lung on the unit today. Amazing.

I completed my last rotation on a cardiac ICU. The first day was overwhelming. I finally asked the nurses what are the common diagnoses (acute MI's, heart failure (left vs right), hypertension, renal failure, DM,) and medications (beta blockers, Plavix, antiplatelets, ACE inhibitors etc) commonly seen in the unit. I made sure to familiarize myself with these. I also wrote stuff down during clinical to look up later.

Be proactive, talk to all the nurses, talk/ask doctors questions (I was lucky enough to be in a unit where the doctors were collegial), and always try to help out the nurses with their patients (baths, toilet) so they will be more likely to show you 'cool' stuff.

CVICU was my favorite clinical! Get ready to 'work hard, study harder'

The most common cases in the CT ICU where I am are CAGs, AVRs, MVRs and heart and lung transplants. It seems that on the days when there are no txs we get between two and three post op CAGs/valve replacement/repairs. The valves and CAGs are generally extubated, sitting out of bed, have had a walk around the unit with the physio and are ready for the ward by the next days cases. The lung txs tend to stabilise and are ready for the ward sooner than the heart txs (though apparently the lungs don't do as well in the long term and bounce back a lot.)

We do a lot of CVVHD and ECMO too. The unit I'm on also does LVADs & artificial hearts.


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