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Med/Surg to ICU - Need Advice

MICU   (1,584 Views | 6 Replies)
by howdyall howdyall (New) New Nurse

142 Profile Views; 1 Post

I am hoping to get some advice, even though I am aware that there are some posts, like this on Allnurses. With one year of medical-surgical experience, how does one get into the ICU? Every ICU in my area wants experience in the ICU. The residencies in my area will only take new grads (with ICU as their senior practicum, by the way). Fellowships primarily want ICU experience. How do I get into ICU? I know that there are nurses out there that have made the transition from med-surg to ICU, so I know it is certainly possible. I also know that there are hospitals not too far from where I live that are using travel nurses, due to not having adequate staffing. I'm looking for advice on where to apply, how to apply, and if there is anything else I can do to increase my chances of being an ICU nurse.

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

5 Followers; 6,203 Posts; 48,765 Profile Views

Get involved in councils and experience as a charge nurse. Attend the meetings, be social and build networks with the nurses and managers of the ICU departments. Build rapport. Let them know you would love to get into the ICU and find out whether they would be open to hiring you as an internal transfer. Networking is the best way to make the crossover. Get to know the nurses and the managers. Make a good impression. When you give or get report from the ICU, be someone they would enjoy working with. Dot your I's and cross your T's. Build the reputation of being a conscientious nurse, so that when you apply, the association is a good one. Look for fellowships. My hospital has fellowships for NICU, ICU, ED and L&D for nurses who are experienced and want to switch specialties. They happen once or twice a year and we have so many internal candidates interested that it rarely gets posted for outside applicants.

Good luck!

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Jmira.BSN.RN has 5 years experience.

353 Posts; 10,043 Profile Views

it might depend on your area, but in many places a PCU/Stepdown/DSU unit is a great stepping stone into the ICU. The patients are mid level and you will get to experience things like drips/vents/Q4 assessments/etc more acute patient load than med surg. a couple years there should get you into ICU and you will be much better prepared. Good luck

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CowboyMedic has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Medical-Surgical-Neuro ICU.

628 Posts; 12,392 Profile Views

On 8/7/2019 at 12:57 PM, Jmira.BSN.RN said:

it might depend on your area, but in many places a PCU/Stepdown/DSU unit is a great stepping stone into the ICU. The patients are mid level and you will get to experience things like drips/vents/Q4 assessments/etc more acute patient load than med surg. a couple years there should get you into ICU and you will be much better prepared. Good luck

This right here. I started on our Step Down unit right out of school and moved to our Med-Surg ICU in about 11 months. Sometimes SDU and ICU are ran by the same managers so they see how you work and if you are a good fit for the unit.

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HazelLPN has 54 years experience as a LPN and specializes in Adult ICU/PICU/NICU.

487 Posts; 17,977 Profile Views

In my day, nearly everyone started on Med/surg before transferring to ICU. I myself started there right out of school because believe it or not...we didn't have ICUs when I graduated. Once it opened, I transferred to work down there within months.

It is more common now to hire new grads in critical care, but I am still from the old school that if you can do med/surg...you can go anywhere.  

Why don' t you try and make some human connections?  Maybe contact the nurse manager and see if it is possible for you could cross train in the ICU at the hospital where you work and pick up contingent hours.  We had several floor nurses who floated down to us who eventually got cross trained so that they would be more comfortable working with vents. They generally didn't take patients who required critical care drugs ...if they had a drip that needed titrated one of us would handle it. However,  it was great to have float nurses who could handle sicker patients and a few made the switch where they worked with us full time and moonlighted in med/surg.

Best to you,

Mrs H.

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57 Posts; 1,154 Profile Views

On 6/19/2019 at 6:18 PM, howdyall said:

I am hoping to get some advice, even though I am aware that there are some posts, like this on Allnurses. With one year of medical-surgical experience, how does one get into the ICU? Every ICU in my area wants experience in the ICU. The residencies in my area will only take new grads (with ICU as their senior practicum, by the way). Fellowships primarily want ICU experience. How do I get into ICU? I know that there are nurses out there that have made the transition from med-surg to ICU, so I know it is certainly possible. I also know that there are hospitals not too far from where I live that are using travel nurses, due to not having adequate staffing. I'm looking for advice on where to apply, how to apply, and if there is anything else I can do to increase my chances of being an ICU nurse.

Move to some part of the country dying for nurses work a year or two then go back to where you want to be

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31 Posts; 1,179 Profile Views

Make some connections with the nurses in your ICU. If you can get some charge nurse experience under your belt, that's a huge bonus and will open a lot of doors for you. Getting into a step-down unit is also a good option. This shows you can handle sicker patients, and also lets you interact with nurses in the ICU a bit more frequently, ie during report/transfers.

I spent a couple of years on a surgical unit in a large hospital, and was a charge nurse for my last year there. I made it a point to get to know a lot of the other charge nurses, not just the ICU CNs, because a) when crap hits the fan, sometimes it's nice to have another CN on another floor to call for help and/or advice and b) I really didn't know where I wanted to go next and figured it would help to know people.

When I applied for my current ICU job, I went in for my interview and there were two charge nurses sitting in with the manager. Both of whom I knew fairly well, from meetings and also from calling RRTs/Codes/transfers. I was told later on that they both advocated for me to be hired over other nurses who already had ICU experience. It really is all about who you know 🤷‍♀️.

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