Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Considering ICU or Critical Care Nursing?

Are you considering a nursing career in an ICU or Critical Care setting? Are you a new graduate and wondering if critical care nursing is right for you then read on. As an RN myself, I worked in many different aspects of the nursing profession, physician's offices, dialysis, hospice and ICU/Trauma. I loved them all and now, even though I'm retired, I feel I had a well rounded background in the nursing field. It served me well. However, if I had it all to do over again, I would have chosen Critical Care Nursing from the start. Why? Because honestly, it was the most rewarding and not as difficult as one might think. Here's why: Consider being fresh out of nursing school, a brand new graduate and yes, quite green. Your experience level is about a 0.5 on a 1-10 scale. The usual suggestion for new grads is to spend time on a medical-surgical floor, "gain some experience". Baloney. If you can get hired out of school into an ICU or Critical Care setting, then go for it. You will receive the best training and will be assigned to generally the best nurse qualified to train you. You will learn nursing on a 1:1 or 1:2 nurse patient ratio. If you choose a medical-surgical floor, you will more likely than not be assigned to 3-5 patients during your first week and can probably expect the nurse training you to be stressed. Or, if they are short staffed, you may end up with your assignment with a nurse co-assigned to monitor you. Talk about stress!!! Even better, get hired in a Level 1 hospital, you will see more, experience more and will learn a great deal more. Critical care nurses are experienced and are very willing to train you so that you will receive the most out of your orientation. After your training is over, you will have nurses close by always to pose questions to, unlike a med-surg floor, where you will have to hunt someone down. Not so in critical care, they will usually be standing within a few feet of you. I have found critical care nurses to be a cohesive group, working always in tandem with each other. If a nurse simply states, "I need help over here", several nurses run to assist. On a med-surg unit, again, the nurses have a larger case load and will be much busier and with patients with nearly the high acuity as they would be in an ICU setting. I say, go for it! Just go for it! There is a book that many nurses in our unit used on an almost daily basis and I highly recommend it to anyone considering or already working in an ICU or Critical Care setting. It's Kathy White's Fast Facts For Critical Care. It's available on Amazon.Com, Here is the Link to the book:

A few other books I suggest: Good luck! Enjoy your nursing career!

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