New grad who wants to be ICU, pls help!


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I'm in a similar situation (looking to go directly into an ICU setting) and have been looking at Nurse Residency programs. Some say they are a bit of a "gimmick" but I disagree. Yes, its basically a longer orientation with some added classwork, but it shows that the hospital is interested in and prepared to take someone fresh out of nursing school and train them to be in an ICU.

That said, some hospitals might not advertise that they are taking new grads for ICU so it helps to call and ask. A lot depends on the current staff and if they have enough nurses who are willing to teach available to take a new grad.

You will hear a lot of strong opinions about new grads working in an ICU and a lot of nurses think its a bad idea and you should get med surge experience first. I think it depends on the person, it will be easier to start in a med-surge, telemetry, or step down unit but it will also take longer. If you are looking to stay in ICU for a long time, a year in med-surge might not be a big deal but if you are looking for critical care credit for CRNA school then its probably worth saving the year and going right into the ICU. Even if its too much and you have to transfer to a less critical area, its not really time wasted because at least you would have gained some experience. Just remember patient safety is #1 and you need to be able to admit if you are not able to handle the ICU. I would respect the nurse who quits the ICU because he or she didn't think they could handle the responsibility more than the nurse who decided to go with it anyway and ends up harming a patient.

All that said, I'm still in nursing school myself so take my opinion with a grain of salt. What I do know for sure is that there are new grads who do well going into an ICU and new grads who don't so its entirely possible to do just fine.