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What are my chances of getting into the CVICU?

BlkDog BlkDog (New) New

Hi All,

I'm a nurse with 4 years of experience on super busy surgical step down unit. Primary patient populations are cardiac surgery and neurosurgery. I love Cardiac surgery and have been itching to take care of these patients in an ICU setting. Do you think my resume will be thrown out because I don't have ICU experience? I have taken care of many patients on postop day#1 after heart surgery (this included Chest tubes, epicardial wires, q1 I&Os, frequent vitals etc, have some basic experience with vents and believe I can do it. I know nothing about vasoactive gtts. I am BLS/ACLS and IV certified as well as tele certified. I'm going back to school in a few weeks for my bachelors. I am ready for the next step, but I don't want to get my hopes up with the job market being so bad. The only thing I can think of is it seems that ICU nurses have a lot of longevity and seem to stay put with jobs...that gives me a tiny bit of hope. Can you think of anything I can do to better my chances? I would appreciate any opinions. Oh! Also, I live in Boston, where everybody and their Mom are nurses, haha.


Sugarcoma, RN

Specializes in Trauma/Tele/Surgery/SICU. Has 2 years experience.

Well take my advice with a grain of salt as I have only been on a SI/CV ICU for about 4 months now, but I would think you have a background that would make you a very good candidate for CVICU nursing. I was hired into one with only med-surg experience from a trauma surgery floor. No cardiac experience at all except telemetry. I guess it depends on what the unit needs at the time. I know my manager tries to keep a certain ratio of experienced to non-experienced, so the experienced RN's aren't bombarded by newbies! I am not sure what the market is like in Boston, but in my area most ICU's seem to be willing to hire RN's without ICU experience provided the staffing mix allows for it.

I am sure your resume already states this but make sure post op cardiac surgical patients, pacer wires, CT's, etc are listed. I would definitely get a copy of Fast Facts for Critical Care or another book (In my opinion fast facts is the best) and a pharm book and start becoming familiar with the gtts. This will make life easier for you if you do get hired into a CVICU. It has taken me quite a while to learn the med's and I still don't have them all memorized. What receptors they work on, why you would expect to use one over the other etc. I am still working on that. Also another user posted this link in another thread and I saved it because it has really helped me with the PA catheters and learning the correct values and what they mean. PACEP: Sign-In


Specializes in ICU.

I think you would do a great job. While there always are some 20+ year vets in the CVICU, the new nurse turnover can be rather high because it is a stressful place to work and there is so much to learn. I say give it a shot.

Thanks for the encouragement. I've been looking for a job for 3-4 months now. Not one call back... even jobs that are in less critical areas which I am very very qualified for (Internal medicine office). I've been applying everywhere. I just applied to a CVICU in another hospital in Boston, but honestly, I'm not even getting a ounce of my hopes up. :( I am such a bummer. The CVICU in my hospital has no openings. I was thinking of taking the CCRN to strengthen my resume? Any opinions on that?


Specializes in Cardiothoracic ICU. Has 1 years experience.

you can only take ccrn if you have ICU experience; that is my understanding. I would walk in to speak with a manager at the facility you are interested in.


Specializes in CT-ICU. Has 4 years experience.

Sounds like you have good experience, I too started out on a CV stepdown and then transferred to the CT-ICU. Talking to the manager in person would be a big plus. I had to get my foot in by talking to the manager in person, and even then it took about 6 months to actually start. In my CT-ICU, they hire people but don't actually start them on orientation for 4-6months, as they can only start out so many at a time (i.e. # of preceptors). My advice would be to talk to a manager in person, keep checking back with them for an open position, and be patient. Start brushing up on your CV A/P and vasoactive gtts in the meantime and try to max out on your current floor (i.e. committees, precept, & charge). Good luck!

Also, CCRN can only be taken as an ICU RN.

ckh23, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER/ICU/STICU. Has 6 years experience.

You do not need critical care experience to take the CCRN, just acute care.

Initial CCRN Certification

So while you could become CCRN certified, as a manager I would question how much of it you understand. Anyone can pass a test with enough effort, but how can you apply that information if you have never worked in that setting? Some managers may view it favorably and some may not.

CCRN testing is really becoming a joke so I wouldn't get to hung up on it until you actually land in an ICU.