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Who You’ll Hear
Kati Kleber, MSN RN – Nurse educator, former cardiac med-surg/stepdown and neurocritical care nurse, author, and speaker.
Melissa Stafford, BSN RN CCRN SCRN – highly experienced and currently practicing nationally certified neurocritical care nurse.
Elizabeth Mills, BSN RN CCRN – highly experienced neurocritical care nurse, current Stroke Navigator for a Primary Stroke Center.
What You’ll Learn
- Open Mind
- Typical Characteristics
In this episode, we dive into 8 tips for new grads in the ICU! We discuss the characteristics of the intensive care nurse, normal expectations, critical thinking, advocacy, communication, and more. This episode is hosted by 3 CCRN nurses, which is a critical care specialty certification granted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
8 Tips for New Grads in the ICU
#1 Come in with an open and actively engaged mind
- Expect to be overwhelmed for awhile (at least 6 months)
- Fight the “I want to be perfect” mentality; while it’s admirable, it’s not possible – setting yourself for more stress and disappointment with that expectation
- Nursing is a practice – you’re never going to be at a point where you don’t make mistakes or be perfect. There is an art to this. The skills in nursing school aren’t the only ones you’ll need.
#2 Be aware of typical ICU nurse characteristics
- Assertive, direct, business-like attitudes, detailed-oriented, anticipating things ahead of time, know protocols inside and out, intense, autonomous (very familiar with protocols, able to enact orders/protocols independently and then discuss with MD).
- You are still bringing something to the table, it’s just different than what the others who bring to the table who are already there.
#3 Show initiative
- You’ll have to be assertive yourself – go home to learn and understand more
- Invest time into making yourself better in the off time
- Round with MDs, seeking out learning opportunities
- Introduce yourself to others
#4 – Know yourself and be your own advocate
- Know your learning style and communicate this to your preceptor
- Know your limits / what you don’t know so you can fill in the gaps
- Please don’t be the new grad know-it-all
- Find the balance between not knowing anything and being so obvious about that people question your ability to be a safe care provider, and being the know it all who continually acts like they do not need to be educated
- Find a mentor!
# 5 – Own your orientation
- Orientation is truly an extension of nursing school without formal grading
- Ask for help when you need it – sometimes your preceptor cannot always pick up on times when things aren’t clicking
- Advocate for yourself!
- Work through the process of orientation; it’s a marathon and not a sprint
#6 – Keep an organized routine throughout your shift
- Have a systematic routine way of assessments, your day, meds, etc. otherwise you will miss somethings
- This helps get through the shift and not miss things.
- Stop and get organized first before starting your shift so you start on a good note.
- Resource: Anatomy of a Super Nurse, The Ultimate Guide to Becoming Nursey, chapter 7
#7 – Learn your alarms and use them to your advantage
- Have a love/hate relationship with alarms.
- If there is always one going off, you’ll never know when it’s real…turn yours off if it’s non-actionable or adjusts threshold per policy.
- Use them to remind you so you don’t forget.
- If you change a pump, add volume, silence an alarm, or whatever for another nurse – let them know!
#8 – You need downtime
- Becoming a critical care nurse straight out of school tough and exhausting, take care of yourself
- Again, advocate for yourself
- Take time off for yourself, make time for yourself – no one will do this for you
Resources for newbies to critical care
- How to Manage Your Time In Critical Care
- Tips for New Grads in the ICU
- The FreshRN Podcast
- Nursing.com Podcast
- ICU Time Management Tips
- The Ultimate Guide to Creating an ICU Report Sheet (for new critical care nurses and nursing students)
Nursing.com also has quite a few great resources for nursing students and new nurses. There are various courses on Nursing.com. You can even get a 3 day trial of the academy for only $1!
Want to get ahead of the game and ease your anxiety about your first nursing job?
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