Worried about working in small ICU

by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I am a new grad beginning my career in the ICU. If I put in 2 years in this smaller ICU that typically transfers the more severe cases out to larger hospitals in the big cities 30-60 minutes away, will I stand a chance at eventually being hired at one of those larger hospital ICUs? The one I am at now is the one I did my clinicals at and is 45 minutes away from my home. They have an excellent new grad program and a 2 year contract, and are allowing me the opportunity to start out in the ICU. However, I live in a large city that contains several large health systems that the hospital I work at now will transfer serious cases to. I would like to eventually work at one of the hospitals closer to home, but still want critical care. My worry is that since I'm in a "small" ICU, that my experience won't be enough for these big time ICUs.

Dear New Grad,

Congratulations on landing your first job in an excellent new grad program!

You will not have any worries being eligible for a larger ICU when the time comes. Dare I say you will be golden in 2 years, from an ICU hiring perspective. 

You'll be a nurse with 2 years ICU of experience with art lines, vents, drips, proning, and much more. These are all highly desirable and transferable skills. Remember that in larger ICUs, it takes time before a nurse manages ECCMO, CRRT, or is trained to take a fresh open heart patient.

When a larger ICU hires you from an excellent new grad program in a smaller ICU in 2 years, they will be getting a valuable commodity, and they know it. 

For now, just focus on all you have to learn.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth