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Rookie ICU Nurse Headed Your Way


Hello all,

In a/b 2 weeks, I'll start 12 weeks of orientation on an ICU, & all of my prior nursing experience is outside the hospital. I feel I'm at a disadvantage to new grads in some regards, since hospital skills will likely be fresher for them. I have some fairly simple questions for all of you seasoned ICU nurses in hopes of planning ahead a little:

  1. What gadgets/instruments/devices should I consider acquiring for use on the unit?
  2. What are the most important topics to review prior to setting foot in an ICU, such as paralytic meds, anti-dysrhythmics, or vasoactives?
  3. Any other advice you feel will be beneficial to a rookie in the ICU?

Any help you are able to provide is much appreciated, & I'm very excited to join you all!

Da_Milk_of_Amnesia, MSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 5 years experience.

Best advice: Use the search button - Sorry - there's a bunch of recent threads about this. You can find all the info you need there.

hi. i will be having my interview for ICU position and this too is my first job. Goodluck to us. do you have any advise?


Specializes in ICU.

Agreed, I think it's all be covered in great detail already. You will be taught what you need to know, when you need to know it, and it will probably seem over whelming, which it truly is. Take it one day at a time, and do something for yourself everyday to decompress your nerves.Good luck.

I have worked in a MICU here are some necessary things you will need: Stethoscope, penlight, calipers (for measuring rhythm strips), scissors. Major meds to review: Vasopressors & Inotropic Agents (Norepinephrine, dopamine, dobutamine, neosynephrine, epinephrine, milrinone) Sedation, paralytics and pain meds meds (propofol, fentanyl, versed, ativan, haldol, succinylcholine, vecurionium etc), review ACLS protocol, dysrhythmia charts. Refresh lab values especially for DKA, and Septic shock. If I think of anything else I will post again. Some resources I use on the ICU floor below. Good Luck! You will do well!

Resources I use still on floor

Mosby's Nursing PDQ for Critical Care, 2e: 9780323074063: Medicine & Health Science Books @ Amazon.com


Critical Care Notes: Clinical Pocket Guide: 9780803620841: Medicine & Health Science Books @ Amazon.com

ECG Notes: Interpretation and Management Guide (Davis's Notes): Shirley A. Jones: 9780803621428: Amazon.com: Books


First thing, travel light, everything should fit in your pockets. I recommend a stethoscope. Second, a penlight. There are some nice ones for physical exams, but I assume you will be working nights as a newbie. A small, but not too small, maglite works very well. Have at least 2, even three of your favorite type of pens on you. You will constantly be loosing them, and others, including patients/families, will ask to borrow one. Keep a full pack in your locker. Hemostats come in handy when you need one, and if you will be working SICU, bandage scissors are nice to have. These are the basics. You'll see what you need as you get experience. If you will be taking a critical care class, you will be going over the basics of pharmacology, lines, devices and drains, signs of common diagnosis's, (shock, respiratory failure, heart failure, renal failure, etc. The most important thing to review prior to the class (or the start of your employment). Is reading telemetry strips and knowing what's on the heart monitor. Dubin's is a good text to look at. The things that I look for in an orientee (I run the orientations in our CCU) are a positive attitude, asking lots of questions, jumping in to help others, not acting too comfortable right away, promptness, appearance, etc. really just common sense stuff. Good luck!

I appreciate the insight from everyone, & I will look @ similar threads. Thanks!


Specializes in ICU.

+1 on the hemostats. If nothing else, a quick 'here' with one when someone is struggling with some stuck IV tubing goes a long way in demonstrating preparedness. I keep one clipped to my scrubs somewhere. "Quick draw Kelly!" Keep a wary eye out for that kind of think in the storage room too, knowing where things are when you're in a hurry sure makes for a smoother shift. :sneaky:


Has 3 years experience.

This thread is really beneficial to me as well!! I'll be graduating in a couple semesters and already have a good lead for a job in the CVICU!!