Is it wise for a new grad to start in ICU?

Specialties MICU


  • by Kolt19
    Specializes in CVICU.

I was just wondering what experienced nurses think about a new graduate starting out in ICU. I am in a BSN program where we can specialize in ICU for one class, but I realize this is not near what needs to be known. Would I be competent enough to begin here, after going through a 9 month training program? I really want to do ICU but I do not want to put my license / pts. on the line either.

Thanks to all.

Specializes in PeriOp, ICU, PICU, NICU.

[color=#00bfff]not a nurse but just want to welcome you to the great family and enjoy your staty. best of wishes to you in all you do :) .

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Many new grads start in the ICU and do fine. The key is the orientation and preceptorship that you receive. You will be fine if you look for a good ICU where they already hire new grads. Talk with them first.


59 Posts

Graduated from and ADN program. Me and my friend were recruited to interview for ICU, she accepted and got the job. I declined. I wanted a lower stress postion as I am continuing my BSN.

She did well in school with no special ICU classes and is continuing to thrive there.

They were willing and she was willing and it seems to be working well for all.


19 Posts

I would ask if the hospital you are going to has a critical care course. My hospital had a very good core curriculum course and it was great. Although since you are just out of school and a lot of it would be review for you.

I always advise new nurses to be sure to ask lots of questions and if you feel you are not ready at the end of orientation ask for more time. If you feel you and your preceptor are not a good fit ask for another. Just remember you are in charge of your orientation.


1,577 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg Nursing.

Personally, I think a new grad should have a year of Med-Surg under their belts before venturing into an ICU. A new nurse needs to fine tune their assessment skills, a new nurse has to be persistent, especially when the doc isn't giving you what the pt needs. This is ICU, a pt's life is at stake here. A new grad in ICU needs confidence. The floor is a good place to get the confidence in their abilities. In the ICU things need to be done NOW! It's no place to hem and haw about decisions. That said, My ICU has hired new grads. Most of them have done quite well. Some have not. I think it depends on the person.

What really bugs me is when a new grad comes into the unit with a "know-it-all" attitude. YOU DO NOT KNOW IT ALL!!!! I 've been an RN for 8 yrs and have worked in this ICU for 3 of those years and I am not even close to knowing it all. Nor do I pretend to. If you have a question, ask. Your pt's life (and your license) are at stake.

Best wishes and Good luck to you!

Specializes in Home Health, Primary Care.

I think it depends on the person. If you are up to the challenge of a high-stress area, such as the ICU, then go for it. That inner confidence and motivation, along with a great orientation should not stop you from pursuing the ICU straight out of nursing school. I'm in a 1-yr Critical Care program at my hospital and they are training us very well. Just shop around for that (near) perfect orientation program.


381 Posts

My mother is in our local Neuro ICU right now and she has had 2 different nurses that are new grads and they are wonderful. I feel if you want to specialize than do it. good luck in what ever you choose!


182 Posts

ahhh this old question. I think it really depends on the person first and then the hospital second. One of the new grads i started with in my icu is unsure of himself and should probably spend some time on the floor first. he is by his own admission a "slow learner". The icu is not the best place for him. I am better suited to the icu then the floor, and a, learning a lot, and becoming more comptent every day, yet i know when i am in over my head and need help. In fact for me, my truth is that i think that i would be a poor floor nurse and it would not only not help me in the icu, but strain the nurses having to help me on the floor.


1,060 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry, ICU, Resource Pool, Dialysis.

I'll just reinforce what everybody else here mentioned about a good new grad program for ICU. Make sure the hospital has one. Also, ask around for nurses who started there as new grads, and get their perspective on the orientation. We hired 3-4 new grads a couple years ago and they have been exceptional.

PS - if you decide to not to start directly into ICU, I suggest a step down, or telemetry (preferably surgical) floor as instead of med-surg. Understanding/interpereting cardiac rhythms are integral skills for ICU, and experience with telemetry patients helps immensely. Some of the experienced nurses who have come to us without any tele skills have a hard time putting the pieces together sometimes.

Good luck!!


601 Posts

My husband graduated from an ADN program in the spring of 2005 and started his first job in the ICU in a small regional hospital. He is doing great and getting very positive feedback from his co-workers , supervisors and patients.

I am a student at the school where he graduated. I had to speak to the school nurse about something and she asked how my husband was doing. I told her he was in the ICU and doing great...she then launched into this huge tirade about what an awful choice that was and how he'll NEVER develop his instincts. Obviously she has her own bias probably as a result of some experience she has had. Instead of considering that not every person will have the same experiences she has had, she has instead decided to take a very black & white approach to this topic. I was very annoyed at her for going off like that. She should have known better than to air her biases, especially to the nurses wife! :angryfire



1 Post

There is nothing like having experience. You need to work in Med/Surg for 3 years before going to any ICU. As you practice Nursing you will see practically nothing comes out of the text book.

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