Tips for Specialty


  • Specializes in CNA. Has 2 years experience.

Hello all!!

I am going for my BSN & I am less than a year out. I'm gravitating towards ER or ICU nursing and wanted to beef up my resume in any way I can. I'm currently (not working) a CNA, but just wondering what I should do to get a job in one of these departments? Should I be volunteering somewhere? Trying to get a job? Anything helps!

Thanks so much,


Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

My manager specifically hires CNAs in nursing school so that if it works out, they can be hired directly into the new grad program for our unit once they've passed the NCLEX. Look for a position somewhere you think you'd like to work as an RN. Failing that, look for either a hospital where you'd like to work possibly in a different specialty or in a specialty you'd like to work at a different hospital.


25 Posts

My school is really, really pushing us to do externships because it is much easier to get into high-demand specialties having done them. That said, ANY additional health care experience can get your foot in the door - volunteer, CNA , EMT, etc.

Specializes in Telemetry, Primary Care. Has 8 years experience.

Work as an EMT or ER tech, both of which will make you stand out for ER. ICU? Nothing you can do really for that except maybe be a CNA on a tele floor? It was already mentioned, but I'll say it again too. Any hospital experience will make you stand out more than any other candidate that does not have hospital experience. Volunteering will definitely help. Us that or a hospital job to get your foot in the door and get your name out. That's what I did and how I got my job straight out of school. Plus, I'm sure there are many hospitals that have new grad ER programs around you. There were/are here in SoCal for ER. New grad programs for ICU are hard to come by though. If you want ICU, most of my friends went to telemetry first then moved onto ICU which is usually very common.


1,114 Posts

Specializes in PACU, pre/postoperative, ortho. Has 12 years experience.

We don't have new grad residencies or formal programs but no longer hire any CNAs that aren't in a nursing program in the hope they will transition into an RN position.

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

What I did first was decide what type of hospital I wanted to work at. Then, I decided what type of residency I wanted to train in. It happened by sheer luck that one of the clinical instructors during my peds rotation happened to work on a floor in a facility that checked off all the boxes AND they were looking for a CNA. I applied ASAP, got in and am now in a residency in my chosen specialty.

So, if you know what type of hospital you want to work at, what kind of residency (if any) you want to train in and are networking with clinical instructors (the person mentioned above wasn't even the instructor for my section -- my instructor's group and her group happened to be doing skills lab together that day -- again, sheer luck) and letting them know what you're looking to do, you may find yourself set up for success. Good luck!

Specializes in ER.

I would get a job somewhere and preferably in the desired unit if you want to work in an ICU or ER. I worked as a paramedic in an ER and started out in the ICU before going to work in an ER as an RN. Keep in mind that starting out in ICU or ER may put an artificial limit on you.

A lot of ICU or ER nurses have a hard time breaking out of the mold. Some will try other things but they seem to come back. I know very experienced ICU nurses who complained about taking a full load of med-surg patients. I couldn't work med-surg as an ER RN without extensive training.