Tips for moving from Adult M/S to PICU

Specialties PICU



I am a nurse with about 1 year experience on a busy Med-Surg/Tele floor. We are also a peds (adolescent) overflow unit if need be. I have really learned a lot and still have plenty to learn, but I honestly do not see myself working adult med/surg for long and hope to move preferably to PICU after 1.5-2 years experience.

Besides acquiring a solid med/surg foundation, what other things can I do to make self a stronger candidate when I am ready to apply for a PICU position? Volunteer work with children/families? Peds classes? PALS? Do you think these would help an experienced nurse transfer to PICU?


I came from a similar background, after having worked on a Step Down unit for 4 years. One of the best skills that you can master is communication. Peds is a whole different ball of wax, because not only do you need to speak to the child on their level you have to communicate with nervous / scared / anxious parents who aren't used to anyone else caring for their child. Becoming an expert on conflict resolution, diffusing situations and dealing with difficult personalities are all INVALUABLE skills.

I do not think PALS will help you get a job, and it's expensive. Without a frame of reference and experience in PEDS it's just information that you are likely to forget when you get the job. If your job requires it, they will send you and pay for it.

I would also spend this time reading a lot on child development. What age to kids crawl, how do you incentivize 11 year olds, what developmental milestones should a 6 year old have... those kind of things. Also reading about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) is also not wasted time. While reading and this kind of studying may not be the kind of thing that gets you the job per se, it definitely will help you once you start.

In a interview, the hiring manager is going to be looking for the same qualities as they would in any other unit. You can have the most knowledgeable PALS certified, child expert, but if that candidate doesn't have the right personality and temperament then they won't get the job.

Use this time on your current unit to hone your critical thinking, time management, and communication skills. Focus on your current job, do well, get great reviews and recommendations and you will build a career foundation that will take you anywhere!

Good luck!

Thank you for this advice! I'll keep on working on those skills and critical thinking until the time is right to make a move.

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