ICU duties?

  1. I'm looking at ICU nursing when I graduate. I have done a few hours shadowing in an ICU, but had a few questions for those nurses, can you tell me about your day? I know it can vary, but do you spend most of your day suctioning, or monitoring, etc? What is the hardest part of the job? What shift do you recommend? What type of person is a good ICU nurse? When I shadowed, I noticed that the majority of the RNs were seated and watched monitors half the night? Just wanted to get everyone's input. You can email me privately if you want at THANKS!!
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    About jfpruitt

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 214; Likes: 1


  3. by   sockov
    the ones sitting watching the monitors are the ones that don't turn, or suction, or care about their patients!
    a good ICU nurse is always moving, and thinking ahead before the problem happens. I work in ICU/CCU currently in a SICU unit where we specialize in liver transplantation. Your main duties in a critical care enviroment is so much to say, but the main goal is to keep the patient hemodynamically stable until they heal to normal again. (which can take months). That could mean giving fluid boluses, titrating drips, monitoring labs and such.
    think ahead of what could happen and avoid it happening. If there is a sudden drop in B/P... why? assess and fix. Keep thinking on the potential risk of a lowered B/P.... fried kidneys, low perfusion to distant organs and the gut.... etc etc.
    Basically in a nutshell that is how ICU nusing is. Don't be the nurse that sits and wants easy nights, and does bare minimum, they slowly get stupid. Be a "do-er" and make a difference!
    good luck.
  4. by   nowplayingEDRN

    I could not put it better my self........AMEN! As a ICU/CCU nurse I find that if I do not stay what seems to be 3 steps ahead, it is a real mess.....and that was experience gained from being tossed into the fire to learn. It is a constant analytical process.....and like you said.....assess the patient.....why the problem???.......fix the problem.....assess again. jfpruitt....what ever you decide to do, I wish you the best.

  5. by   wv_nurse 2003
    Just remember that it is very difficult (not impossible--but extremely difficult) to go into ICU right out of school. Consider a year of experience on a busy med-surg floor to fine tune your assessment skills, time management, and priority setting.
    Best of luck to you!
  6. by   Furball
    Better yet, a year on a tele floor (you'll learn rhythms, organization, assessing and some drips) is ideal if you aren't sure about going right into ICU.
  7. by   gwenith
    Sockov - you are 100% correct. ICU nursing is not about "watching monitors" neither is it about "swann-ganz" catheters and Nitric Oxide or Balloon pumps. It is mostly about basic nursing care with technological support.

    You are constantly assessing your patients. Keeping one step ahead even of those patients who are seemingly "stable" as they can have spetic showers, sputum plugs even MI's.

    Furball and wv_nurse 2003 are right as well DO NOT GO STRAIGHT FROM SCHOOL TO ICU!!!

    Worked in a unit where they would take nurses straight from school. These staff were never pooled outside the unit so if it was not done in the unit they didn't know about it and couldn't cope with it. Scarey part was the arrogance of ignorance where "you don't have to do that cause I never have and nothing has ever gone wrong!" These nurses never learnt how to truly interact with their patients either.
  8. by   healingtouchRN
    Been there & done that, 14 years worth, It can be done. I precepted & graduated straight to CCU, spent 7 years there & another almost 7 in the ER before coming back to CCU as charge (again). It takes alot of training, stay up on your skills, I have almost 90 hours of training this year alone (2003) not to mention the amount of classes I have taught & I am also in private practice, too, as a holistic nurse. If you want it, go for it, blood, sweat, swearing & tears!
  9. by   TEXAS_BSN_RN
    I graduated in May. Went straight to ICU. Had my job the February before I graduated. I used to do warehouse work and this job is way harder than that. Its going to make me an alcoholic.
  10. by   TEXAS_BSN_RN
    I graduated in may and now I work in ICU. its the hardest job I've ever had in life. I would recommend anyone that is thinking about doing this path to think about it strongly because straight out of nursing school you have no organization skills, are weak to fair on assessment skills, and time management skills are usually weak. Even a yr on another floor, I think would cut my stress in half. My instructors recommended me to go into ICU. One of the few that they did and its kicking my @$$. Do it if you have your heart set on it like I did. Just know that it might make your hair fall out. LOL
  11. by   beejfrance
    I enjoy reading all of your posts everybody. I am not quite there yet with my school but I have future goals to be an ICU nurse. I do believe with hard work and dedication with a passion an entry nurse can go straigh into ICU. I have worked as an Oral Surgeon Assistant for years and we have had complications at times, stressful situations etc. I also lead the team with time management and pt. flow directing all where to go. With this experience that I already do with time management and pt care for years, I believe working hard to get an ICU position will be more obtainable in my situation and I will pick up on things maybe a little more easier than somebody without that knowledge. What do you all think? Wish me luck huh? I would love your opinions and what you think or suggestions to help me with my journy. Have a super day! Beej PS. I am not at all saying I know how to be an ICU nurse either. I know as one, you learn stuff daily and gain knowledge all the time. I am only saying the experience with patients and management should help right?
  12. by   CoffeeGeekRN
    I went to the ICU right out of school and it is very tough. One thing that has helped me is that I continue to study critical care issues. I am a member of AACN and read their journals and get CEUs. I read books like the ICU Book by Paul Marino, Pass CCRN by Robin Dennison and index.
  13. by   jesswus
    Perhaps I have a different perspective but I think if ICU is what you want to do, you should go for it right out of school. Med-Surg nursing provides an excellent base, especially for time managment but little else in relation to ICU nursing. I graduated and went straight into ICU, we specialize in Liver/Kidney/K-P transplants and skills I would have gained on a M/S floor would have done little to prepare me for these types of patients. They majority of things we do like titrating multiple drips, managing the vent, etc, are things you will never do on a M/S floor, and the assessments are very different than on a typical M/S floor. This is in no way a slam on those nurses, they are amazing and it is something I could never do on a daily basis. Agree with first response, DO NOT be the nurse who sits around and watches monitors!!!!!
  14. by   rgroyer1RNBSN
    I agree with first post to I am an ICU assistant director and yes I still go out and work the floor and er, sometimes I work ortho, I like to float as a charge sometimes, it keeps me up on my skills, I still take a shift now and then on the chopper when there short handed a nurse or medic since I am on the crew as well, don't be the nurse who sits around it creates more work for the rest of us. And as for starting out in ICU straight from school, I have nothing against except you will probabley wish you had more experience. I started out in ER straight from school and I think it prepared me wonderfully for intensive care.