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Nurse Residency Program or Jumpstart Critical Care??


Hey guys I’m a BSN student graduating this semester and I’m torn between job offers. I would like to end up as a critical care nurse at a well-known “great place to work” hospital. My job offers as of now include a med/surg general/neuro residency program at Piedmont and CCU at a smaller regional hospital near my college with no residency program.

I’m torn between a great work environment and support from Piedmont’s residency versus jumpstarting my career in critical care. I wouldn’t want to work at the smaller regional hospital that long because I want to move to a bigger/nicer city but I’m afraid a residency might look better for future jobs than jumpstarting critical care. I’ve heard a residency will make me a better nurse in the end. What is the best way to go?? HELPPP 😞

Take the residency.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.


llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I can't tell from the information you provided. Residency programs are not always better than other orientation programs. It depends on the specifics. Some residency programs are "just for show" and don't offer any more education or support than a good quality traditional orientation. Some places that don't use the term "residency" have all the same bells and whistles that the best residencies have.

Don't be fooled by labels and fancy marketing. Get the actual details of both orientations and both jobs. How long will you be buddied with a preceptor? During that preceptorship, do the 2 of you just take a 1-nurse assignment together -- or will the preceptor have her own patients to care for in addition to yours? What type of classroom experiences are there? etc.

I think one of the most important things to ask about any ICU position is: How often do they hire new graduates? What are their expectations for new grads? Do they expect them to care for an equally difficult assignment with the same orientation as they give experienced nurses? Or do they have expectations that are modified a bit for the new grads? Were the new grads they have hired in the past couple of years successful? I would avoid an ICU that is not accustomed to hiring new grads and that does not have a track record of being successful with integrating those new grads into their unit. However, if the ICU regularly hires new grads and is successful with helping them transition into professional practice and become strong members of the staff, then I would choose the ICU, regardless of whether or not they use the term "residency" to describe their orientation process or not.

It's the result you should care about -- not the label.

You make good points LLG and I probably should have expanded on my thoughts as you did. Agree that some homework needs to be done. My thought was the setting of the residency (med-surg/neuro in a larger hospital) might provide a nice broad base as a jumping off point for CC. Having worked in a regional hospital (although in the ED) their idea of CCU was a little sketchy...more like tele.


Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

All things considered, I would go for the residency.

I would also suggest you change your username to something more anonymous - you said you "wouldn’t want to work at the smaller regional hospital that long because I want to move to a bigger/nicer city" but if a recruiter for that smaller regional hospital happened to come across this post, they'd possibly pull the job offer and go on about their business so the decision would be made for you.