i'm "in the same boat" (or as least a very similar boat). ER pays more and is closer to home...but i'm just wondering if taking the ICU will give be a better framework/foundation (nevertheless, about 10-20% of ED patients are critically ill...so if one is moving from ICU to ER, there'll still be many aspects of emergency care to learn. gonzo1 puts it well. essentially no matter what, "if you move to a different unit you will be starting all over again.")
grad nurse orientation is likely the most extensive orientation we'll ever get. i've seen several hospitals who provide a more thorough orientation for experienced RN's without ER or ICU experience (but these seem few and far between)
also another important factor (as you mention), what if we do ER and then decide to progress to ICU? i've been getting the impression that moving from ICU to ER (whether clinically easier than moving from ER to ICU or not) is more common and thus possibly more accepted and recognized by hr/recruiters/managers. i know a couple people who recently moved from ICU to ER after a couple years experience in ICU. however i personally don't know any who have gone from ER to ICU...is ER to ICU just the road less traveled, or do those with ICU experience have an easier time landing an ER job (than those with ER have landing ICU)?
also, right now (at least in my state) it seems like every new grad is attempting to get an ICU position and those who don't are planning on applying to one after they put in a year or so. overall, we'll there (or are there currently) more ER openings than ICU openings for RN's (relative to applicants)
i see you mention ER to step-down to ICU. have you been told ER to ICU is difficult or do just feel you'd prefer this route?
question for users: stereotypically, who will get the ICU job? someone with step-down experience or someone with ER experience?.....this question is ridiculous because all other factors regarding the individual are laid to waste, but still any opinions?
all in all i agree with you. the decision is difficult. given the state of the economy people are picky with who they hire. while i want to enjoy my first experience as an RN, i also want to take the position that will give me the option to explore other areas/units should i choose to do so in the future.
if only we had the option of cross-training (however even if we did, this may be a little much to ask of ourselves).