ICU Residency ; How I got let go.

Specialties MICU


Where do I begin?

I accepted a position at a trauma 1 center as a trauma/surgical ICU new grad. I failed miserably. I had a very difficult time adjusting to the fast pace environment. I had 4 preceptors in less than 4 months. I was task-oriented, anxious, sleep-deprived, and felt very incompetent. "Strong personalities" that is what my nurse educator would tell us about the staff on this floor. There were nurses who could see I was struggling and helped me tremendously. Then there were others who looked at me with such disappointment. I had meetings every week to discuss my progress (or lack thereof). Once a week; I sat in front of my preceptor, educator, and director of nursing; and they would point out what I was doing wrong, how unsafe I was to my patients, and I won't disagree, I was unsafe. I could tell I was going to be let go; I could feel it coming. The following week; I had yet another meeting. This time with an additional member; the director of nursing education or whatever. This meeting was to address whether I would be fired or transferred. This was my 6 day in a row I worked; thanks to my preceptor for not giving me the heads-up. I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. Anyway, back to the meeting, they were all talking and I was zoned out. I just wanted them to tell me; to never come back or that I could start a new position. I was tired of the critiques, I felt I really gave it my all, and it wasn't enough. I didn't meet their expectations; I get it. ICU is for the thick skin. The director looked at me straight in the eyes and asked me "Honey, you cannot handle two patients on this floor if we give you a position on a Med-Surg floor, what makes you think you could handle 4-5 patients?" " Don't you think maybe nursing isn't the career for you?" It took everything in me not to cry in front of them. Especially from being so exhausted. To be completely honest; this is probably the first time in my life that someone has said something that hit me to my core. A first-generation college student, the very first in my family to even graduate high school. Nursing is what I want to do and I have never regretted my decision in choosing this field. Then this 'director' who doesn't know anything about me, is questioning my career choice. I am not sure what her goal was; however, this failure has only taught me to keep working harder. I am a neuro ICU nurse and hope to land a trauma ICU job in the future. Please don't let anyone make you feel discouraged. Strive for the best, set high goals for yourself. Fail a hundred times if you have to and learn something every single time. Things have been better.



2 Posts

Hi - thank you for sharing your story.

I was wondering why specifically your experience in the residency was so negative? And what would you have done differently if you could do it again?

I am a soon-to-be new grad hoping to land a job in an ICU and would love the insight.


8 Posts

Specializes in nursing.
On 3/27/2020 at 11:56 AM, jedikiwi said:

Hi - thank you for sharing your story.

I was wondering why specifically your experience in the residency was so negative? And what would you have done differently if you could do it again?

I am a soon-to-be new grad hoping to land a job in an ICU and would love the insight.

Hi! I'm also a soon to be new grad looking for get a job in an ICU but am having a tough time already. Where are you applying? I'm in new jersey!


307 Posts

Specializes in ICU, Agency, Travel, Pediatric Home Care, LTAC, Su.! Nurses eating their young, their old, their this, their students, their that totally disgusts me! I started 20 years ago in a new grad ICU internship program. By thd grace of God I survived, that, lots of prayers and having 5 years of EMS under my belt and I can remember those first days like it was yesterday. You will have "strong personalities" BULLIES in all areas of nursing, but ICU tends to have more. If it is your passion, dont ever give up! Prove them wrong! IDK if u have choices in a different hospital system, but I woulsnt want to work where even the Director of Educatipn is that awful. They failed u too, by not being kind, by not mentioning the many positive things u have done and still do. Everyone told me to do a year of med/surg first. I wouls have never made it. Not my cupf of tea. Inhave a friend who started ICU with me, but got demoted to m/s. She aent on to get her Masters, become and Acute Care NP, teach @UC Davis and manage on of their ICU units. Attitude is EVERYTHING! Iam not on here much, but my inbox is always open. Best of luck to all of you! One suggestion I have is subscribeto an online year membership con ed site and do as much relevant ICU CEU as possible, learn, learn , learn. Most memberships run $80-$110 but swveral companies are running specials thru tomorrow for like $40 for the year (CEUfast and elitehealthcare) are 2 I believe. Chase after those dreams and dont ever loose your compassion for your patients, coworkers, rookie nurses, and students, it will set u a part:) Online education won't teach u all, clinical hands on is really important too:)


46 Posts

Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for sharing! I am about to DREAM job is to a Neonatal ICU nurse. But unfortunately, there aren't any opportunities in my area. My options are L&D and ICU (maybe). But I have to admit...your testimony is my biggest fear! What if I'm not smart enough!?

TriciaJ, RN

4,328 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

No one should be working six consecutive days on orientation for starters. There's a lot to be said for perseverance and the OP certainly demonstrated that.

I don't, however, think it's worth sticking with a job when it starts to look like there's no chance of succeeding, for whatever reason. It's really crappy to tell someone they're not cut out for nursing based on a single job experience.

Kudos to the OP for moving on and making it work.

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ICU.

Telling someone they shouldn't have even bothered to become a nurse is grossly inappropriate. I'm sorry that happened. A lot of times, the unit's culture can be a big influencing factor on a person's success during orientation. It drives the expectations, the norms, and the standards. Some are more understanding than others if you make a mistake while others attribute every action as a reflection of your critical thinking/competence. Going into a level 1 trauma ICU isn't a good idea for any new grad, but I have no doubt you'd do perfectly fine elsewhere with a more typical acuity.


21 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

im always so shocked to hear these horrible stories of new nurses and their experiences. I've never felt these cases and im grateful for my preceptors. it seems like your environment set you up to fail and thats horrible. I never understood why some nurses are that way to incoming nurses, when theyve been in that exact position many years before. I hope you everything works out and please don't think this is all your fault.

I had the exact same issue. I (female) was being precepted  by a male. My educator told me that everyone had been complaining about my charting. She went on to say that men were not as good at charting and without saying it directly, that I was held to a higher standard due to being a female. There are so many other issues I encountered. I never ever felt like anyone would have had my back, or that I was a part of the unit at all. I knew from the start that they didn’t want me there. My dream job was working in an ICU. To land it right out of graduation was an accomplishment. I just wish I would have chosen another offer that was offered to me.  


Ah yes,

The cold hard ICU.... I have worked MICU/STICU, and now CVICU. I have met all kinds in my short 4 years, but one thing is for certain. The bulk of your workplace bullying will happen here. The ways of helping and nurturing the new grads have seem to go the way of the Dodo bird.... I for one have always pushed to uplift and support the new grads/new hires. Even some of the ones that took awhile to catch on, even most of them eventually became very proficient in what they do, and I truly believe it's due to the fact that they felt there was adequate support around them, and they had no fear of asking questions. Even after 2 years in the MICU, coming to the CVICU I was met with a pretty fair amount of animosity. Nurses didn't like the way I did things, and even once had a pressure ulcer on a neuro case that began a rumor that I "neglect" my patients... That said, never stop learning, never stop trying, and ALWAYS make sure you're giving your best care.


To the OP, I hope things have gotten better, and just know that the way they treated you in your residency was WRONG. Critical care is hands down the best area to work in the hospital (I may be biased), and I believe it's up to the next generation of nurses to "change the narrative" and the stigma behind critical care nursing. It is not a competition, we are all a team and we all have the same goal. That is, to give the patients our best care, and to give our coworkers the best support we can. I look forward to hearing how you've continued to succeed both in your career, and in critical care. 

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