Specialties MICU



Hi jumpmanrn,

If you'd asked me that question 5 years ago I might have had a different answer, BUT...

We have hired many new grads into the ICU where I work, espescially in the past few years as the shortage has become more acute. Most of them fly. The qualiteies that a new grad needs in the icu are:1 good critical thinking skills and common sense.2 a willingness to learn. 3 good basic understanding of A&P.

I am coming around to thinking that is actually harder for experienced nurses to come into critical care. It is really hard to go from being an experienced "supernurse" to being a beginner.

Hope this helps.


I am a student who is also interested in SICU. I wondered

if there was a standard length of time for a preceptorship

for a new grad who wants to work in the ICU. Could anyone

let me know what the training time is in their facility?


hi 502,

Our orientation for new ICU nurses is 6 weeks in class room with several clinical days thrown in and then two weeks buddies with an experienced ICU nurse. We try to have the new nurse work with the same nurse for all the preceptored shifts and work in the group that they will be assigned to (we work as four distinct teams). This is usually enough time, but we are flexible (within reason) in providing extra time if needed.


I recently thought New Grads in the Units were not a good idea, for the new Nurse, as well as for the Patients ,as well as for the new Residents,,,,,,,,but I now have re-thought that due to our unit hiring "experienced nurses" who this latest one is from Nursing Home Administration (they had worked a floor years ago)

Now let me tell you.....after following that so called "experienced Nurse" .......

Bring on the New Grads, at least you new people WANT to learn and can do procedures!!!

We tried and are still trying to get this person in the correct work area (NOT ICU) but it seems OUR ADMINISTRATION operates under the "Warm Body Theory"....So good luck and WELCOME !!!

We have yet to see any new grads in our unit but they are coming, I will post how long their orientation will be when I find out...which probably means when I am told the day before I am to orient one.........imaRN

Thanks for the info. I'm glad to hear that new grads are

welcome in the hectic ICU environment! Let us know how

it goes for the training of new grads into your unit.

I'm also curious about your own experience of working in

the ICU. DId you have med/surg experience prior, or were

you trained in another area (ER, etc.).


Specializes in CV-ICU.

We are (just in the past year) hiring new grads into our CV-ICU at my hospital. I'm not sure how many days of classroom study they have before they are on the floor, but they have a 6 to 8 week preceptorship with an experienced RN that they are partnered with. Then they start having their own assignments and are assigned a "buddy" as a resource person for their first few weeks off orientation. New orientees to our unit (new grads or otherwise) have their own big thick workbooks that help the preceptor and the orientee keep track of what experiences they have and what is still needed. Once orientation is over, the orientee is expected to work as Level I for about a year or so, then is orientated to Level II nursing, which includes recovery of open hearts, IABP's, etc. Level III includes charge nurse, CRRT, heart transplants, etc. and doesn't happen for another year or so after that. We have found that attitude and eagerness to learn makes all the difference in the world among the orientees, especially the new grads. I am amazed at how fast some of the new grads can pick up both information and techniques-- and we have also found that there are new grads who couldn't make it because of attitude. But that happens with experienced RNs also. Good luck! And remember; the only "dumb" question is one that wasn't asked.

Specializes in Cardiac medical/surgical ICU.

I am thrilled to hear these wonderful welcomes to new grads in the ICU. I recently graduated from a BSN program and am now working in an ICU. I absolutely LOVE it! I have heard so many say you need a year of med-surg for organizational skills .

I received straight A's in school, managed self-employment, raised 2 kids, nursed my dying Father, took several advanced classes such as ACLS, hemo monitoring, etc. DON'T say I need organizational skills!:(

Now I am not saying every new grad should be in an ICU, but I think if given a good orientation and support, many can thrive! With the nursing shortage, it is imperative we embrace alternative ways to attract new nurses into this wonderful profession!


Lisa RN


I"m so glad to hear all the positive feed back. I went into the OR straight out of nursing school a few years ago and I feel that I am missing out on so much nursing knowlege and skills. I am thinking about changing paths and going into the ICU (as I worked in there for a time as an aid). I feel that would advance my nursing career so much and not be limited only to the OR. Although I love surgery there is so much that we don't do there (use it or lose it.) Hopefully I will see some of you there sometime.

I'm partly responsible for the orientation of newcomers my ICU and I'm usually very glad when they are newly graduated because they come with no "bad habits" and they are eager to learn (usually!). There is also an element of fascination and mystery for ICU that might help. ICU is a specialized field so anyone is an apprentice when they start to work there. Experienced nurses might have to let go some of their beliefs and not-so-experienced nurses might find they don't have enough background. So, it can be very disturbing for both. I've supervised the orientation of both "very green" and experienced nurses and I think the key is willingness to learn and capacity to deal with stressful situations.

If you feel up to it, give it a try. What you'll learn will always stay yours. Besides, ICU is THE greatest place to work as a nurse!!

P.S. Dear imaRN, I sympatize with you ...

Seems it would be less stressful to get all those basics, as well as learn cardiac monitoring and emergencies, on a stepdown unit first. Our new grads are so overwhelmed with a gazillion things to learn in ICU all at once. The ones who at least got the basic stuff down ahead, are much cooler and calmer, and can make decisions with less help. But if you're motivated enough, then it probably wouldn't matter. One other thing, if you did have floor or tele experience first, it makes it a lot easier on you when you start floating out to those areas. It's pretty traumatic to go from being used to a 2-patient assignment, to floating to an eight-patient assignment (# of pts. depending on which floor and how short-staffed they are!)But much worse if the nurse never had that 'volume' experience at all.

Go for it.

I came out of school to the CVICU eight years ago and it was the best move I could have ever made. It jump started me in the right direction, I worked there for 2 1/2 years, then worked for a CV surgery group as a RN first assist for five years. Now I have spent the last 7 months in a CRNA program. I just would like to say that I do not think my "organizational skills" have suffered. The kind of organization you need to work in the unit you have to go to the unit to get. :)

Good Luck and DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. - that why you been bustin' you hump in school for the last 4 yrs.

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