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alicestill alicestill (New Member) New Member

What is it like still working in critical care when you are in your older years?

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Hello! Was just reading through some of the posts in this forum and came across one that expressed concerns regarding the current trend of new nurses doing ICU mostly for just a year then moving on to do CRNA or NP programs, leaving some units with a dearth of expert and highly skilled nurses. In the ICU I work at, we have a fairly good mix of senior and novice nurses; but with more experienced nurses working days than nights.

For the older nurses out there still working in the intensive care setting, what made you stay and would you still recommend it to the younger nurses just starting out their critical care careers? What are the things you enjoy the most about being in critical care for so long and the things that you are not so enthusiastic about? Any advice?

To the younger nurses, would you consider remaining in the critical care field as a bedside nurse?

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As one who has been working in ICU for almost 3 decades, I find that the most obvious one was that after being on my most recent job of almost 9 years, the hospital staffed the unit with all very young and new nurses.  I saw other nurses my age leaving and then I did also.  I found that at another hospital where I began working prn, that many nurses there in ICU were close to my age.  I don't know if hospitals staff with younger nurses on purpose to drive the more experienced ones away or it's a money thing.  Also, there's a feeling of lack of appreciation from the hospital management for their older nurses.  A unit should be a mix of ages and talents.

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3 hours ago, cubby777 said:

As one who has been working in ICU for almost 3 decades, I find that the most obvious one was that after being on my most recent job of almost 9 years, the hospital staffed the unit with all very young and new nurses.  I saw other nurses my age leaving and then I did also.  I found that at another hospital where I began working prn, that many nurses there in ICU were close to my age.  I don't know if hospitals staff with younger nurses on purpose to drive the more experienced ones away or it's a money thing.  Also, there's a feeling of lack of appreciation from the hospital management for their older nurses.  A unit should be a mix of ages and talents.

Totally agree that a mix of ages, skill levels, etc., means more stability for the nursing staff

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I love my job on a good day.  A good day being we have excellent staffing, a pct, all the supplies i need, pharmacy bringing meds on time or even close etc.  As time goes on Im finding less good days and more bad days and I struggle with going back to get my masters degree.  

I hate management lecturing everyone on VAP when I don't even have anything to clean my patients mouth with or how to take care of a central line when I don't even have a flush to use.  Often there is no PCT and the nursing staffing is bare bones I can barely find someone to help me turn my patient (i really need 3 people to turn them) but then we have to sit through in-services about pressure ulcers.  Then a high risk patient falls (shocking) but the nursing supervisor wouldn't staff a sitter even though they know the patient is high risk for falls and then we have to sit through a fall reduction plan.  An important medication is ordered and I have to harass and stalk the pharmacy and still wait hours to receive the medication.  The overarching theme is you have to do everyones job on top of yours and that is frustrating and a burden.  

I love the high acuity of where I work; constantly being challenged.  I love the relationship we have with our doctors and how we manage our patients.  I love my coworkers and management.

If I knew my job would be mostly good days for the rest of my career I would not go back to school and I would continue to work in ICU until retirement because I really love it, Im constantly challenged and learn new things every day.

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I got my first ICU job (not my choice) in 1982, and have been at the bedside ever since.  (Well, except for that four month stint teaching.  I loved the teaching, hated the hours!  Couldn't wait to get back to my 12 hour nights!)

I love the critical care aspect of the ICU -- I love the unstable patients, and the patients with multiple drips, mechanical support of one kind or another, a plethora of issues.  The sicker the better!  I love to precept, and I teach some of the critical care classes in central orientation which is great.  I get to meet all of the new critical care nurses while they're still on orientation.  Consequently, I have acquaintences in every one of our nine intensive care units!

It has long been my opinion that I have one of the best jobs in the hospital, and since this is a pretty great hospital, one of the best jobs in the world.  I get to make a difference in peoples' lives, teach, precept, do charge.  I've taught ACLS to medical students and new residents, and I get a chance to help them to see nursing as part of the health care team, and to understand that we can save their butts sometimes if they work with us.  I've belonged to hospital wide committees and have had the opportunity to update policies and procedures and change the culture.  

I'm relocating and will be looking for another ICU job soon.  I would recommend ICU to anyone who wants an interesting, challenging job with great teamwork.

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