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Transitioning to Acute Care

rehabRN16 rehabRN16 (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Inpatient Rehabilitation. Has 3 years experience.

Hi everyone,

I currently work in an inpatient rehab floor at a well known hospital in the Chicago area. I have been there for 1 year ~6 mos already. Rehab nursing has taught me alot of fundamental skills (med passes, wound care, tube feeds, IV abx, trachs, etc) as well as cases barely discussed in nursing school (LVAD patients, Milrinone drips, TPNs etc) but honestly, I feel like it's beginning to drag and want a change of work pace/environment a.k.a acute care. With the current situation in mind, I'm just currently holding off on applying and just looking at job openings. With regards to transitioning to an acute care setting, is it better to start off at a general medicine/surgical floor, or take it a notch higher (Med/Surg Step Down/ Observation/CCU)? Curious what the learning curve will be for a rehab nurse transitioning into acute care...If you're a nurse based in the Chicago-area, which hospitals do you recommend for relatively-new RNs, and why? Thanks a lot! Looking forward to reading replies! 😃

InSchool4eva20, MSN, RN

Specializes in Instructor of Nursing and Med/surg nurse. Has 13 years experience.

I don't think you'll have any problems going into critical care, you have a good knowledge base with rehab requiring good organizational and prioritizing skills. They will train you in orientation as they will know where you are coming from. You of course would benefit from general med/surg it will be very similar to your rehab experiences but with emphasis on medicine, but with your experience I don't think it is necessary. I personally love med/surg and will always be one at heart., It seems you are drawn to a higher challenge and that is why I think you would do well in the more critical areas. I'm not from the Chicago area so I can't speak for that. I hope this is helpful!


Has 3 years experience.

I am a SNF/rehab nurse who just got a BSN. I too am on the edge of trying to decide whether or not I am even cut out to ever work in a hospital. I feel like I have no confidence to move to acute care, though while working in a SNF I feel like I have learned a lot & learned to do a lot with nothing. (Almost no resources, no staff no equipment, no time). I have mastered many skills such as IVs, G tubes, bolus feeds, TPN, wound vacs, plaurx chest drains, wound care, interpreting labs and reporting, med pass, insulin, COVID units, code blues, falls, first aid of injuries, staple/stitches removal, being weekend supervisor, PICC lines, colostomies, trachs, hydrodermoclysis & so more. With being extremely familiar with all of that how can I not be ready to move on? I have friends that work and hospitals and cant believe the amount of work SNF nurses actually do. With having 20-30 skilled patients who are all sub-acute and having to document vitals for all, and complete multiple assessments and skilled notes that determine what/how insurance will pay. it becomes a pretty significant workload. Long story short, I guess I am looking to hear that I am ready to move on and should not feel guilty if I leave the very few good people who work here behind.