Critical Care Nursing - How is it different from the regular RN
My friend plans to shift from a RN to Critical nursing. We are looking for some helpful information about this particular field. Can anyone help us by sending us helpful tips on how to transitions to critical care nursing? Would it be difficult?
It will take time, patients and motivation. The ICU requires a different way of thinking when approaching nursing. You will probably be expected to take critical care class and have a preceptor. It typically takes about two years to feel fully confident with your skills; however, never think you know it all cause know one does. The other important tip I would give is ask lots of questions. No question is dumb. Lastly, don't start with the most complex patient; it will come. Every patient offers something that you can learn about to add to your skills. I have done nursing for multiple years in the ICU and it has been worth every minute.
I have been a critical care nurse for 25 years. I would say that you need a couple of years to learn the basics of care and time management before you tackle critical care arena. I went right into critical care out of nursing school and always felt as if I were missing something. You never feel completely comfortable because technology is always changing.About the time that you get comfortable with using hemodynamic monitoring and vassopressors to manage a cardiac patient, the practice changes to using a ventricular assist device with just an arterial and a central venous pressure monitor. I suggest that your friend insist upon a top notch internship. Often times a hospital will just hurry the nurse through the training and expect them to get what they need when they hit the unit. I am currently working with the novice nurses in our unit and we are revamping our critical care internship program. I am hoping to find advice through these blogs. Good luck to your friend and by the way... I love being a critical care nurse!
Don't be a know it all. Don't put down nurses in other specialties- they are just as passionate and committed to their specialty as you are. By put downs I mean thinking you are above them or better than or smarter than they are- your'e not! I have been a nurse for 32 years and have worked in many specialties, including critical care(ICU which I hated after 6 months) and I have seen many a Critical care nurse have the attitude that they are the end all and know it all- comes out when giving report, to nurses in Med Surg, oncology, family practice and public health. Nurses in these areas care just as much about the specialty they are working as you do. I have seen ICU nurses pulled to Med Surg and run off the floor crying because it was too much for them. Trust me, ICU and critical care DOES NOT prepare anyone for the specialty of public health or family practice- whole different animal, mind set and different stage of the disease process altogether- ICU nurse- you will be just as lost as I was trying to catch on to these 2 specialties!! there are no A-lines or monitors in a public health clinic or a department of health chasing down a salmonella outbreak in a restaurant- it's called epidemiology!! Critical care nurses- your focus on the disease process is very limited. Those disease processes span a great deal more than what your used to dealing with-
I just started on a floor that is basically an ICU step down floor (IMC), so the general idea is less ill than an ICU patient, but too ill for medsurg. Most of my nursing school clinical experience was medsurg and oh lord what a difference. You really have to know your stuff or be ready to adapt to the environment. It is rough because as a student you're taught to be able to not only treat the disease but also the patient such as loneliness, emotional concerns, etc etc. But on a critical floor you're really not as concerned about their need for attention considering that their stroke would probably kill them sooner. As such you find yourself almost having to be stern because you have to focus mainly on treatments, meds, labs, did the previous shift screw up and lets get that fixed, did the doc screw up and lets bitch at him for making our lives harder (hey they do it to us), and if it's a particularly dependent patient...ya forget about it. One nice thing about a critical care floor though is that the 30 mins before or after prescribed med rule really doesn't apply due to the increased level of illness of the patient and amount of meds required to treat them. Still though, if your friend really cares for the well-being of a patient, critical care is the floor to be in. They are truly sick people, and I love helping them and I'm sure your friend does (based on the date of the OP) too...or hope so.