new grad starting in SICU, how to prepare

Specialties MICU


I am a new grad and will be starting in the SICU at the end of January, it was my first and only interview at my dream hospital so I am very excited! I wanted to know what the most commonly used ICU meds are so I can start studying them and know the basics. Also are there any books out there that would be helpful to a new ICU nurse? Im stressing since I graduated last May and took my NCLEX in August and don't want to lose what I have learned so far. Thank you!!

Fentanyl, Versed, Ativan, Morphine, Dilaudid, Propofol, Precedex, zofran, inapsine, phenergan. benadryl

Levophed, Epinephrine, Dopamine, Dobutamine, NeoSynephrine, Vasopressin, Isuprel, Lidocaine, Metoprolol, diltiazem, cardene, nipride, lasix, bumex, diamox, sodium bicarb, insulin, nexium. Albumin and other volume expanders. Hydralazine, Enalapril, Catapress, amlodipine, lisinopril.

Vancomycin, linezolid, cipro, levaquin, daptomycin, doripenem, zosyn, cefipine.

As a new grad, you should check out index

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry/PCU.

I agree with meandragonbrett (above). The site is a great resource for new ICU nurses. You should consider buying the book version of the website info if you are able; it contains a wealth of information in a unique presentation. The format is more of a "preceptor-to-preceptee" style, and not so textbook--which is helpful and unique in a way that enables you to learn without necessarily feeling like you're just studying.

It may also be helpful to familiarize yourself with the types of patients, procedures, and equipment you will be dealing with in the SICU. Check out blogs online of ICU/SICU/etc nurses who share their experiences. If you're not a member yet, consider joining the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN at as they offer an abundance of resources (articles, publications, access to the CINAHL database, and networking opportunities).

I would suggest volunteering in the SICU if you haven't done so already, though some volunteer programs require a 6-month commitment (or some other duration), or a certain amount of hours. And of course, try to contact people with SICU experience (like you're doing here) to get some firsthand advice and perspective that you can't find in books.

Check out some case studies (either in books or online) to give you the "big picture" of what you've been studying, and help guide your critical thinking in the SICU.

Not everything has to be limited to SICU though! Take some time to relax, celebrate, and enjoy the time you have before you start your full-time job. And just remember that as much time and energy you spend preparing, the majority of "real" learning will come once you hit the floor.

Congratulations on your new job, and best of luck as you embark on your journey as a real nurse =)

P.S. - Out of curiosity, what state (if in the US) are you employed?

Specializes in MICU, SICU, and transplants.

I'm a new grad that's 2 months into orientation and this is what was/would've been helpful for me with regard to prep before starting.

ECGs - gotta know em. I spent a lot of time/energy on this at the start of my orientation that could've been better spent if anyone had told me how to prepare! I loved LOVED the book ECG Workout by Jane Huff (5th ed). It is a great tool for learning ECGs from the ground up and at the end of each section it has a cheat sheet that summarizes the high points (great for review and refresher after you finish the book).

A CCRN prep book. I got Critical Care Nursing Certification (by Ahrens, Prentice, Kleinpell) and it is a bridge between textbook material and on-the-job training. It is spot on for how my unit operates. I have really gotten a lot out of it.

Last, I would say labs. A basic familiarity with labs is a must or else you'll be scrambling when you arrive.

Best of luck to you!

Specializes in STICU; cross-trained in CCU, MICU, CVICU.

wow......although what everyone has said is good.....please please DO NOT ATTEMPT to do all these will be SO freakin caught up in trying to remember everything and forget the more important things such as the BASICS!!!!!

Yes do attempt to learn SOME DRUGS...NOT everyone that was listed...the best advice is when you come upon a drug you have never heard of or used before..research it as you go along in your training.

The CCRN is a great cert to EVENTUALLY reason to start studying for it just as you get into the ICU...there are way more important things to learn and to study such as the surgeries you may encounter/types of patients you will get and why....typical course of stay...etc....

Your learning curve will be extremely it should be however don't take too much takes lots of time to become a good ICU afraid of the nurses who don't ask questions...always follow your lines....if your not sure ask...RT is your best friend and worst enemy ! :)......don't carry out an order just because it was written...use your head first...if it doesn't make sense it there might be something wrong with it or YOU need a bit more clarification on what it is your doing...

ICU IS will learn to love it more everyday....

I just transferred to ICU and am using the following AWESOME resources: "Fast Facts for Critical Care" from $46.95 plus $8-9 shipping; also available for iPhone (all of our ICU nurses own a copy), and "Hemodynamic Monitoring Made Incredibly Visual" (on Amazon for $35).

I agree with Focker, don't try to study everything at once... But as a new nurse in ICU you should definitely learn the Basic ECG rhythms; any decent hospital will make you take a course though... it usually includes whatever learning materials you'll need.

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