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Want to work in ICU

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by CinLeo42 CinLeo42 (Member)

507 Visitors; 26 Posts

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Hi, I have been off the Medical Surgical floor for a year, but I have been pursuing my BSN. I will be done wiht my BSN by the end of December, and I really want to work in ICU. I have looked at different hospitals job openings for the ICU area and all of them say they want experience. How do I get experience?  Advice?

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JBMmom has 6 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nurse.

1 Follower; 11,359 Visitors; 673 Posts

I think you're in the same situation so many people face, how to get experience when everyone wants experience in order to offer a job. I know that at my hospital, I had good reviews from my med-surg manager, and she actually recommended me to my critical care nurse manager. Unfortunately it's often a who-you-know thing with many nursing jobs. Do you have any contacts in an ICU in your area? Good luck.

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alaskaman has 29 years experience and works as a Critical Care Step Down ER.

1,467 Visitors; 45 Posts

Frequently it requires that you  find a program who has a proctored ICU training program. Does your hospital have that? If not, I would look around.

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ptier_MNMurse has 3 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a CVICU RN.

314 Visitors; 25 Posts

I agree with JBMmom in that it often seems to be a "who-you-know thing".  Talk to and be open with your manager about your aspirations and they will give you realistic expectations for you and how they might help you! Do you know anyone who works ICU? Otherwise just get your name and application out there! There are definitely ICU's that will take med/surg experience. It also just depends on what other sorts of applicants are applying at a given time. Sometimes you might be in a batch of applicants all with ICU experience and other times not. In the latter case your references will be valuable. Ask around to shadow as well and make some connections that way! Then you can also know what you are getting into and see where you might want to work definitively.

Throw you application out there! The worst they could say is no.... The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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chris21sn has 3 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a MICU/CTICU.

3,614 Visitors; 128 Posts

Hey! It definitely isn't who you know. You can do it 🙂 I didn't know anyone. I had the right experience - I had about 9 months experience in a telemetry unit - high acuity CHF floor - that accepted all drips and chronic ventilators. I sold myself - I took the ACLS, I got my Critical Care Course - I even per diem'd in a rehab floor that accepted chronic ventilator - and then after 9 months I looked and I was persistent and I think I went to about 8 interviews, and easily snagged 3 acceptances. You can do it 🙂 !

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507 Visitors; 26 Posts

Hi Chris21sn,

I applied to PCU & didn’t get the job because  of gaps in my employment. At least that is what the interviewer said. He commented on how I left my first job before a year and then didn’t work until a year later. I worked at a hospital for two years & left. I was bullied & burned out. I don’t think I would have gotten burned out so quickly if I didn’t get bullied. So, this hurt me & now I have been off the floor for 1.5 years. I have been working on BSN but not sure how I’m going to move forward. I am not good with interviews. I want to work in ICU and it makes sense to work in PacU for experience. However, the hospital I worked at had 7-8 patients per nurse. Sometimes they would make the nurse be charge nurse with 7-8 patients. 

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chris21sn has 3 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a MICU/CTICU.

3,614 Visitors; 128 Posts

1 hour ago, CinLeo42 said:

Hi Chris21sn,

I applied to PCU & didn’t get the job because  of gaps in my employment. At least that is what the interviewer said. He commented on how I left my first job before a year and then didn’t work until a year later. I worked at a hospital for two years & left. I was bullied & burned out. I don’t think I would have gotten burned out so quickly if I didn’t get bullied. So, this hurt me & now I have been off the floor for 1.5 years. I have been working on BSN but not sure how I’m going to move forward. I am not good with interviews. I want to work in ICU and it makes sense to work in PacU for experience. However, the hospital I worked at had 7-8 patients per nurse. Sometimes they would make the nurse be charge nurse with 7-8 patients. 

Yeah, I understand. If you look up - "breathe in, breathe out" on my topics page that I wrote in 2016 - I went into detail about how I was bullied in my telemetry job (severely bullied - hence the reason I stayed only 9 months and left right away to go to ICU)

Honestly, to many jobs it will look bad to try to get into a ICU right away especially considering you had a 1.5 year absence. If you leave for long expanses of time they consider you as a new grad again. 

I don't think that necessary difficult as well. There are many people that have been accepted into ICU as a new grad...Again, my advice still stands. Make yourself stand out - get ACLS, get a Critical Care Course, do some ICU shadowing. Show them that your absence did not hinder you. 

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507 Visitors; 26 Posts

Thank you so much for your advice! Makes total sense.  I thought had to be working as a critical care nurse in order to take the courses? 

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chris21sn has 3 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a MICU/CTICU.

3,614 Visitors; 128 Posts

Nope! My hospital paid for my critical care course, and I was a mere telemetry nurse at the time. And I do believe there is one online that you can pay for as well. 

Edited by chris21sn

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