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 discuss the characteristics of the intensive care nurse, normal expectations, critical thinking, advocacy, communication, and more. We dive into 8 tips for new grads in the ICU! This episode is hosted by 3 CCRN nurses, which is a critical care specialty certification granted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
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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)
- 3 Code Blue Tips for New Nurses (how to survive your first code)
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!
Looking to prepare for your first ICU nursing job?
Breakthrough ICU: A Crash Course for New ICU Nurses from FreshRN® is your one-stop ultimate resource and online course, crafted specifically for brand new ICU nurses. If you want to get ahead of the game so instead of merely surviving orientation, you’re thriving all the way through from day one to day done - this is the course for you.