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Need Help With GN Job Dilemma! (CICU vs. Psych)

by Jake357 Jake357 (New) New

Hello all!

I'm new here, but had a question for all of you seasoned nurses out there. In two months, I will be graduating and I have been offered two positions: one in the CICU of a major teaching hospital (an excellent hospital) and one in psych at the local VA hospital. The VA position is a nurse residency position, which means that you have an entire year with a preceptor and do a research project at the end of that year, then you are offered a commitment following completion.

I know what you're thinking: "Psych vs. CICU? Uhhhh." Haha. I'm well aware that they're two different beasts. It just so happens that these were the positions available and offered to me. I think I've pretty much narrowed down the benefits/drawbacks of each to the following-



It's the VA- the benefits are awesome (I could retire nicely)

Pay is slightly higher

Year long preceptorship

Lots of continuing ed opportunities + they pay for it all!

$2000 bonus for taking NCLEX early

25 days of leave a year + sick time

I could (maybe...) switch specialties later on

Completely electronic charting/med records


Going straight into psych = losing clinical skills

Do I want to do psych? Not sure...


M-F 9-5 shifts (I think I like 12's...)

Not so sure about the staff...the nurses sound like they don't want to be there and the nurse manager sounds sketchy

It may take an act of congress to get transferred if I decide to move in two years



Excellent orientation/training

Teaching hospital atmosphere

Great nurse manager

Great staff retention

Friendly staff

I love cardiac and think I would enjoy work!


Have to have RN first (NCLEX failure = loss of offer)

Slightly lower pay

Benefits aren't as great (definitely not retirement, bonuses, etc)

Possibility of raises not being a frequent thing

Intense learning curve

Scarier level of responsibility

Paper charting

Now, obviously I am asking a biased crowd by asking a bunch of CCU nurses : ), but I'd like to hear what people have to say. Especially those of you who've been out there doing it for a while and know a thing or two about different hospitals/working conditions/what the best long term route is, etc. Half of the people I talk to say, "Do the CICU, you'll never get such excellent training. You can go anywhere from there." And the other half (even people who work in other specialties) say, "Take the VA job. They have amazing benefits, treat their nurses well, and you can switch specialties later if you don't like psych."

Truth be told...I'm really leaning towards CICU (why else would I be asking such a question on this forum. :)

What to do, though? I'm freakin' out! :eek:

Sorry for the long post! Thanks!

I think you should do CICU. It just makes you more marketable in the future and opens the door for basically almost any job out there.

Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, I think so too. I'm definitely leaning in that direction at this point... I know the learning curve will be steep, but I think it will be rewarding in the long run. Really the only thing that keeps me questioning is the fact that the benefits are pretty sweet at the VA (being a federal job), but I suppose that can come later on (maybe). And at 28, I'm not really thinking about retirement. It would probably be the responsible thing to do, but...I don't know, being happy and excited by my work seems more important at the moment.

Have to make a decision within the next day or two. Yikes!


Specializes in CVICU.

Taking a job just because of benefits is actually irresponsible in my opinion. Take the one that you would enjoy more. CICU will make you more marketable and build a foundation of clinical skills for your future. You would be making an investment in yourself for your entire career. Consider this, you take the psych job, work there for a year or two and end up hating it because.. well its psych come on. Now you have been out of the loop for two years and you have never really had any critical care experience before that. It would be really hard to change and find someone to hire you into critical care (if that is what you want to do) after that. Glad to see your leaning in the direction that most interests you. That's more responsible than taking a job for benefits alone.

Agreed. And that's the final conclusion that I came to. Today I accepted the CICU position. :up:

Thanks for the reassurance. I think it's just good to hear what I've been thinking from other people as well. Most of what I've been hearing until this point is, "Oh, take the job with the better pay and benefits." I guess those things are pretty important, but I know that all the money in the world won't matter if I'm not stoked about going to work every day. I know that it is going to be an intense first year getting into the CICU, but I think I will be so much stronger and better for it in the long haul. I think it is an area that will challenge the heck out me, give me strong clinical skills, and set me up quite nicely for whatever it is I decide to do in critical care later on. Pretty excited about it!


Specializes in CVICU.

Awesome. Good luck to you in your career.