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Making the transition from Med/Surg nursing to Critical Care


Specializes in Critical Care, Neuro ICU.

I have been a RN for 2 years and before that a LPN for 4 years. As a RN I have worked on a cardio-pulmonary step down unit & a surgical unit. Before that as a LPN I worked in LTC with chronic trach patients, some of which were vent dependent. I have just accepted a transfer position within my hospital to work in our critical care units. We have a total of 2 critical care units (Med/surg ICU & Neuro ICU) & a step down unit that I will rotate between. I am really excited for this opportunity because critical care is where I have always wanted to be. I am a little nervous about the transition and would really appreciate any advice.

Lennonninja, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery. Has 10 years experience.

Two years ago I went from renal med/surg to a MICU. You have a great base of knowledge and what's great is that you don't have to learn to be a nurse, you just need to learn how to add in the ICU component of nursing. There's a ton to learn but you'll get it :) Check out index for a ton of great ICU information!

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Please change your user name and your avatar. You are immediately identifiable, and there's a reason posters on this forum prefer anonymity rather than identifiability.

Good luck in the new position. After six years of nursing, you already know the basics of how to be a nurse. Now you just need to learn what is specific to ICU. Check out ICU FAQS.com.


Specializes in Adult ICU/PICU/NICU. Has 54 years experience.

Back in my day, everyone started out in general med/surg before going into the ICU....because we didn't have ICUs! I am old fashioned, I think everyone should work on med/surg before going to the unit...at least to understand what the floor nurses go through. It's not easy. I would have never had my longevity in nursing if I would have stayed a floor nurse. I'd probably be disabled or dead.


Specializes in PCU / Telemetry. Has 9 years experience.

I think too many new grads are being hired directly into ICUs. Some of the ones that are seem to have this sense of elitism when collaborating with med surg nurses. In my experience, the ones who go into ICU after med surg experience show more understanding to m/s nurses that have to transfer patients to higher level of care.