How to Get a Job in the ICU as a New Grad Nurse (no fail resume and interview tips for nursing students)

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Podcast Transcription

What’s going on guys, Jon here with Today, I’m excited, it’s my turn. Heather has been stealing all the camera time and today it’s my turn to actually come on here and talk to you guys live on Facebook Live. Our topic tonight is going to be … I’m going to give you guys four tips on how to get a job in the ICU as a new grad. As a lot of you guys know, that’s where I started as a new grad. I talk about it all the time because look, I love the ICU. That’s where I always wanted to work, I was able to get a job there starting out and I wouldn’t have been able to survive anywhere else probably.


I’m going to give you guys some tips, four tips. I want you to get a sheet of paper and some notes, and get stuff to be able to take some notes because I think we’re going to give some good tips here tonight. Before we get started, as you guys know, as Heather has shown you, we like to give away a freebie, give you something for coming up here early. If you go over to, you’ll be able to get our cheat sheet that goes over, you can see a little bit in here. It goes over different types of crystalloid IV solutions. That Make sure you head over there. It has basically  every crystalloid IV solution you’re going to use, it talks to you about everything you need to know about that.


What we’re going to talk about tonight, I’m going to give you these four tips and what I wanted to do after that is have a Q & A and talk all about ICU nursing. Any questions you have about starting in the ICU, any questions you have about that stuff. One other thing that I want you to do though is if you’re inside your post, I want you to like, comment and share, that’ll help get people in here. Let’s get this going here tonight. If you’re on a mobile, you can push like as many times as you want, I’m okay with that. I can push love, you can also push hate if you just are sick of hearing me, sick of seeing me, or you can just keep on liking that. Leave us some comments.


What we’re doing tonight is I have my wide Sandy here. She’s going to help with the comments because it’s really hard to talk to you and manage the comments at the same time. One other thing I want to show you … I lied, two other things I want to show you. This week we launched a brand new podcast, this podcast is the Nursing Mnemonics podcast, and it is hosted by Kati Kleber. She’s working with us here at This podcast has ranked as high as it was the number one podcast in all medical podcast in iTunes for a little bit. If you go over iTunes you can go to our blog, and you can search on the podcast there, and you can find that.


Lastly, we’re going to be doing this new series called nursing shorts. Me and Heather are going to get our kids together. Heather has a three year old named Harper, and I have my son Taz, he’s just turned five, and we’re going to do the series where we have them give you nursing tips. We’re not going to let them say whatever they want to or anything like that, but we’re going to have them share with you some other things. I want to show you where we’re going with that.


Let’s get rolling on today’s topic. We’re going to talk four biggest things that you can do as a new grad to get a job in ICU. If you have any questions, any comments, any complaints or anything while I’m talking, just go ahead and post them below and we’ll try to answer them as quick as we can to make sure we get you guys some answers. The first thing I want to share with you is there’s three search engines that you need to use to find a job in ICU. They are Google, Indeed and AllNurses. If you go to, obviously everyone knows about Go to Google, and the first thing that I want you to do is I want you to understand how hospitals call new nurse job.


The way they’re going to call them is there’s going to be new grad RN, it’s going to be new nurse residency, nurse internship, nurse residency program and nurse graduate program. Those are five ways that hospitals will most often call these new grad jobs. In the Dallas area there’s three trauma 1 hospitals, and each of those hospitals get about 800 applicants for these job, so it’s really important you find out when these jobs are out and you find out how to apply to them.


The best thing you can do first of all is going to Google and typing in those keywords. If you do that … I just did it here. Let me show you my desktop really quick. If you type that in, new grad RN ICU residency, it brings up jobs from Indeed, it brings up jobs from Vanderbilt, from Penn, from Wisconsin. You find all these jobs really quickly by just typing that in there. Once you have those, you can also take those same keywords, those new nurse residency, new grad RN position, nurse internship, take all of those and head over to Indeed. It’s, and type those same keywords in there. You can filter it down by location, so you can filter down by Texas, by Dallas, by a zip code. What that’ll do is it’ll bring up all these hospitals that offer new grad residency programs.


Once you have that, you can go to those hospitals and find out when they offered them, when you’re supposed to apply and things like that. What you would do is take your piece of paper and you write down all those places. You head over to, everybody knows You head over there and you type in the internship for the hospital. Let’s say it’s Duke. You find out about a residency at Duke. You go over to allnurses, and you get into the forums, and you find out what they hospital specifically is asking for.




Yes. Will hospitals be interested in nursing students who are two semesters from graduating?


That is a great question. The question is, will be hospitals be interested in nurses that are two semesters away from graduation? That is a hard question. What I would do if you have not graduated yet, is I would wait until your last semester before you really even worry about this. I let myself worry about this like three semesters from graduating, I’ve seen nurses do that before, is they wait … They start applying and they start worrying about getting a job before they even have their license.


To give you a quick answer to that question, most hospitals won’t even blink an eye at you until you already have your license, until you pass the NCLEX. They really want to make sure you have that license in hand so that they know you’re ready to walk on the floor and get going. However, it is possible, and I think it’s plausible and it’s doable to apply for jobs, start applying for jobs during your last semester especially for this residency type jobs. You can [spine 00:07:46] these places that are doing these residencies, and you apply ahead of time because they usually start posting those four to six months before they expect you to start.


If you apply to that job and with them knowing that you’re going to graduate, you have a graduation date, and then by the time you start you’re going to have your NCLEx done out of the way and you’ll have your license. Those are the key words I want you to search. That’s the biggest thing, is understanding how hospitals look for those things. The next thing I want to talk about, I’m going to pop this up here, is references and connections. A lot of people overlook this. Nursing is a small world. There’s three to five million nurses in the US, and that’s a lot, but when you think about it nursing really is a small world.


One more question.


Yes. From Tori. What’s a good reasonable starting salary should we accept from job offers?


Tori, where do you live? I don’t know if this will probably too delayed to find out where you live. That’s going to depend a lot on where you live and whether or not there’s unions where you live, and what your shift and staff would be in, and with differentials. With that said, I think low end, the lowest I would personally take … Texas pays pretty low honestly. Starting rate, lowest I would book like $23. People in California and New York and stuff … Why are you laughing at that?


North Carolina.


I can give you a direct advise on that. I was offered a position at Duke University Hospital in their ICU after I graduated school. What Duke offered four years ago or so was $21 an hour, so it’s pretty low. Maybe if Kati’s watching, Kati Kleber, if she’s watching she can maybe bump in there and say what she actually makes in that area of the country. Duke offered about $21 an hour with differentials. The way it usually works is you get raises every six months.


The way my job works is it started pretty low, it’s $23 an hour which is low for a lot of places in the country, but then what they did is the first six months was $1 raise, the next six months was $1. You got a $1 raise every six months for the first two years, and then you also got your performance review raises which came out to ¢50 to $1 more an hour. Differentials, so differentials is where it’s at. I actually have a blog post. If you go on our blog, I have a blog post about how much I made my first year of nursing. My base salary was $23 an hour, it wasn’t much, but in my first year I was able to make just a little over $70,000 a year because I booked myself out on weekends. Usually you’ll make a differential for working weekends. Where I worked, it’s $6 extra an hour just for working weekends.


For me it’s a no brainer, I work Friday, Saturday, Sunday. You get differential for working nights which is an additional $3 or $4 and hour, and then you get differential for … You get time and half if it’s under staff, so I’m always in there when it’s under staff. You could make a lot of extra money like that. That’s probably a very vague answer to your question. In Oregon I know I have a friend who just started up in Washington State. She’s making $35 and hour on day shift. I would say out in North Carolina, I wouldn’t expect, especially from the larger university hospitals more than probably $25 an hour or so.


Yes, another question.


Yes, from Jill. If someone wants to land in ICU someday, is it wise to start at a trauma level 3 hospital?


Let me clarify the question. Say the question one more time.


If someone wants to land in ICU someday, is it wise to start at a trauma level 3 hospital?


Trauma level 3 as you know is the lowest level of trauma. Here’s what I think. If you want to work in ICU at a trauma 1 hospital, in the big city, something like that someday, I’d personally don’t think it matters what level of trauma ICU you started. If you do want to go to CRNA school or nurse practitioner school, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to get into one of those programs if you’re not in a trauma 1, maybe trauma 2.


Most CRNA programs require you to have trauma 1 experience. As far as managers looking for people in ICU, it can be hard to find experienced ICU nurse, so even if the experience is from a trauma 3, trauma 2, you should be able to get a job in a trauma 1 hospital without much difficulty. If you get an opportunity top start in a trauma 3 ICU and that’s what you want to do, I would take over that over trauma 1 med-surg in my opinion.


References and connections. Let’s go back to this really quick. If more questions, you guys bring them in, I want to answer as in depth as I possibly can. Biggest thing I want to tell you with this is get connections from people that are going to sway decisions of the decision makers, of the managers. Look for people like the dean of your program. I had a lot of meetings with the dean of my programs. When I say that I don’t mean that they were necessarily good meetings. I had a lot of frustrations in nursing school like I do now with nursing overall.


I had a lot of meetings with the dean of my program, but even with that, they saw in me that I was motivated, I was driven, I wanted to create change in nursing. She, even with all that, she still left a great review for me and a great reference letter for me. You want to look for people like deans of your college, college nursing program professors, clinical instructors, physician that you may have built a connection with. Look for those people as much as you can.


Number three here, your resume. I want to flip over to this really quick. Let me just show you this. Here’s an example of what a nursing resume should look like. This comes from CSU, California State University, Chico. What I want to show that’s a little bit different here on a nursing resume is that the very top of it you should be putting your clinical experience. Especially if you’re looking for a job in ICU, if you were able to rotate through an ICU or be in an ICU for any amount of time, for any reason, put that on top and show them that you’re not just interested in ICU, like you’ve actually seen it, you’ve seen what’s going on. That should be the very top of your resume. Where people might not have experience as a CNA or a tech or anything like that, you at least have your nursing practicum hours, and put those in order of … If it’s ICU put it up there on top.


Another question.


From John. I’m having a touch time deciding whether to apply to the department where I worked as an ER tech or applying elsewhere. I know I’ll have a job there but I’m afraid they’ll assume I don’t need as much training as other new grads. I’m really torn.


That’s a great question. That’s a hard question to answer. I mean you’re right, that you would be probably a shoe in to the job, but I can see the concern, I think that’s a valid concern. That’s one thing I was going to talk about too is that the most important thing that I think you need to do when you’re looking for an ICU position or an ED position, or OR position, one of these specialized areas, is start in a place that has extensive training. You’re going to learn everything you need to know through that training and through time. I would express that if you have a good relationship with your manager here is what I would suggest.


Is I would express that concern to the manager and let them know very upfront and from the beginning like, “I really want to work here and you know that I’m doing a good job and I’m a great tech here, and I’m going to do that as a nurse too. I’m going to be the best nurse you have, but I’m concerned. You know, what I’m doing as a tech isn’t what I’m going to be doing as a nurse, and I want to make sure that we bridge that knowledge gap with a good preceptor and a good everything.”


That might be a leg up you have on people that applied for jobs there too, is you can let your manager know specifically like I want this nurse as my preceptor. I want this nurse to be the one who trains me, and I want to have just as long as training as everybody else. If you like the hospital, if you like the people, that almost matters more than anything else. If you want to work ED and you want to be there, I would just have a real sit down with the manager and see how you feel after that conversation.


Another question.


From Sarah. I have spoken with my hospital’s CCU manger and she has agreed to let me shadow on my own time. I’m out for the summer and do not start back third semester until the fall. I plan on shadowing as much as she will let me. Is this something I should add on my resume?


Absolutely. Definitely. The question is, she’s been allowed to shadow in an ICU, at a critical care unit and she’s asking if she should put that on her resume. I would 100% put that on your resume. Let me just flip over to this screen again.


Here’s another example of a resume. I would put that at the very top here, where you have all your practicum hours. Practicum hours are essential in here, I would put that just below that and I would add up every single hour that you’re there, because what’s that showing and that’s something else I was going to talk about too. What’s that showing is you’re driven outside of school, like this is you doing clinical hours that you’re not getting paid for, you’re not required to do, but you’re just doing because you have a passion for nursing. Managers want that.


I’ve been in on hiring with nurses, I’ve played a role in hiring new grads. What they want is they want people that are passionate and that care about what they’re doing, because that’s someone they’re going to feel comfortable with when they have to go home and they’re not on the floor. If you’re absolutely passionate about that and they can see that, I would throw that all over my resume and I would mention that. It’s not paid experience, this is just you just wanting to be a nurse. Put that all over the resume.




From Joe. Should I include any leadership positions I held during my clinical rotations, like for community, I was the leader for my clinical group and we organized a community healthcare?


Yes. The fact that you did leadership experience and that you organized a health fair, that’s awesome. Another thing managers and hiring people are looking for, they’re looking for … This might sound weird maybe, but it can be hard for managers to find the right people to move in to charge nurse positions and preceptor positions. I know everybody that’s part of this NRSNG family, they’re hearing that and like, “What?” I know you guys are motivated, you guys are driven, you guys are part of this NRSNG family and group because you’re the driven people in nursing, but there’s a lot of nurses out there that are doing this because it pays the bills and that’s all.


The fact that you have that leadership experience and that you have that organizing experience of leading a team, I would throw that all over there. Let me switch back to this again. You can see here, this resume here shows an example of additional nursing courses, so this person obviously went to trauma or something like that because they showed like, “Hey, like I’m really driven with trauma and everything like that.” Anytime you don’t have nursing or healthcare related work experience, I would be beefing up the resume with everything else that is nursing related. The manager doesn’t care about your job at CVS necessarily, they just want to know that you’ve had job and you can hold a job. They’ll love to see that type of experience.


Another question.


From Amy. We were instructed to put our service learning volunteer experience in the spot you had highlight it for clinical locations. Would I put clinical experience first and then volunteer info, would that work?


These are examples from … This one from here is from Linfield College. I would say if it’s healthcare related volunteer experience I would put it above it because, again, that kind of step outside of it all, and then putting your clinical experience maybe below that. I wish I had it here and I can’t find it right now, Baylor University healthcare system, big healthcare system here in Texas, they actually published what they want their resume to look like, and I copied their resume specifically when I applied for my job, but it was something to this effect. Yes, I would put volunteer experience, I would put it up there as high as you can for sure.


Another question.


From Marissa. I just got done with my second semester and a lot of my colleagues are interning. I see the word extern thrown around about a lot on the job sites. Is it possible to do both, an extern and an intern position?


Go ahead and read it one more time.


I just got done with my second semester and a lot of my colleagues are interning. I see the word extern thrown around about a lot on the job sites. Is it possible to do both, an intern and an extern?


I don’t know how to answer that question specifically because I’m not entire sure what the difference is going to be between the two. I’m trying to remember back to those days. I’m sorry because I tried to remember what those were. Is extern after you’ve finished everything? I can’t remember what the difference is between the two, but where possible … Number one, I would focus on your grades and creating those networks that are going to help you. I’ve been able to get three people or more jobs in my ICU just because I knew them and they worked hard, and my manager knew that I worked hard so she trusted my judgement skills.


I would focus first of all on your grades, making sure your grades are good to get you where you want to go. If you want to be a CRNA, you want to be whatever, focus on that. Number two I’d focus on connections. Building those connections, building up where you want to be and then I would focus on those other things. If it’s possible, yes, throw as much healthcare experiences as you can, and there are internship, externship job, whatever it is.


We can throw the next two together. Shaun. With the resume, would you add past work history, and if you’re a medical assistant first before becoming a nurse? Another one is, would it be a good idea to mention all my tech experience in my resume and other experience in other experience section?


Yes. There’s really two ways to organize work experience. The first way would be chronologically: I worked at CVS, I worked at McDonald’s, I worked at the hospital. Or you can do by most relevant experience. When we’re talking nursing jobs, I don’t think it would hurt to organize by most relevant. Just let your manager know that I wanted to organize by most relevant so you know what’s going on. The only healthcare experience I really had before becoming a nurse was working as a transporter for radiology department. I put that up there that I had the chance to talk to these patients, and see these procedures and do these things. I was comfortable in the healthcare environment. I put the other jobs that I had, and unfortunately, a lot of those jobs weren’t very long, they didn’t last very ling, they weren’t very great jobs for healthcare.


Let me go down to number five here, is be sociable. If you get the chance to get in front of a nursing manager and present your case, they invite you in for an interview. Remember like I said in Dallas, we’d get anywhere from 400 to 800 applications for one job. If you get that chance to be what the manager and sitting down with them, be sociable. Try not to be nervous, and I know that’s really hard. Right now I’m sweating bullets, I’m nervous talking to you guys because I can’t see you. Try to convey confidence and really learn a lot about the hospital.


The reason I’m saying that is because if you get the chance to be in front of them, they already want you and they just want to see that they can work with you. Outside of experience, if you don’t have that experience, if your grades aren’t what you wish they were, if you don’t have whatever else it is, at least be sociable so they can make that connection with you and say, “Okay, yes. You know Jon, somebody that I could see myself working with.”




From Liliana. Will you be discussing interview strategies tonight?


Yes. What do you want to know? We can talk about a few interview strategies. The biggest thing that I’m going to tell you is that go in there with confidence. The first thing you need to do before you even show up to an interview, and this applies with any job but especially with healthcare, is get on the hospital’s website and look for their mission statement. Every hospital is going to have a mission statement listed on their website.


Go there, learn that mission statement, and then get as much information about the unit that you can. What types of patients are there going to be? When I applied for neuro ICU job, I honestly had no clue what I was going to be seeing. I was like, “I don’t know, seizures and stuff or gunshots?” I don’t even know. I tried to learn as much of those procedures, and I tried to find out about the manager, I tried to find out about the hospital.


Have a nice portfolio like this and have your questions already written out that you’re going to ask. Have 10 questions written out that you want to discuss. What’s the schedule like? How long will mu internship last? Make them as broad and as specific as you can think of. How many patients do we normally see in a year? Ask them business type questions too, they want to know that you’re going to be involved. How long does the average nurse stay here in the department? That’s what I’m going to tell you to do before you even show up to the interview.


Always dress in a suit or business attire, very professionally. I’m going to tell you guys again, you would be surprised how many people show up in khakis and a polo for a nursing interview. We work in scrubs so it feels weird dressing up, but get yourself a really nice suit, be really well groomed, and show up to that interview with confidence. You’re going to be terrified. I promise you’re going to be terrified, but show up with confidence and try to treat them as much like a professional friend as you can. Sit there, cross your legs, have your questions ready, and be okay bragging about yourself a little bit.


When those questions come up about your biggest strength, be honest. There’s people that just said, “You know I was the leader of a community health group and we organized this health fair that had this much attendance. And I want to bring that same organization and that same drive, and that same leadership to this job. Where I see myself going is I want to learn everything I can during this internship, and then I want to get my feet under me as a new nurse, and then I want to start precepting and teaching and sharing what I’ve learned.”


I would say be confident in yourself, be okay bragging about yourself a little bit, and then talk about the other person. If you can get the other person talking, they won’t even realize that that’s an interview. If you can ask them about their family, “So why did you become a nurse? What are you doing here?” That’s what’s always helped me a lot in job interviews is get them talking. Like I said, if you’ve gotten to the interview, you’ve already made it through the screening round with HR, you’ve already made it through the manager’s first pass at your resume, you’ve made it to the hiring committee’s pass at the resume. At this point you really just need to show them that you’re going to be a good person to work with.


Another question.


From Juzette. What do you recommend for someone with limited work experience but a large number of clinical hours.


Limited work experience, large number of clinical hours. Build on that. Show them that you’re a clinical master. One advantage I kind of had maybe, maybe it wasn’t an advantage, I don’t know, is that when I got my first nursing job I was 29 or 30 years old, so I had some work experience, but most of the people that were starting with me were 24, 23, just out of college. They didn’t really had the work experience either and a lot of them didn’t have any healthcare experience either.


What they did have was that clinical experience like you’re talking about. Even if it’s not paid clinical experience, show them that you’re motivated within the healthcare area. Even if you don’t have that broad reach of clinical experience, at least show them that you’re focused on this job, that this is want you always … That’s an advantage you would have over someone like me. I was 30 years old and I’m finally settling down at nursing.


It’s like, “How long is this guy gonna last?” The advantage of maybe you have of not having a lot of that work experience is letting people know, “Look, I’m driven in this profession, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, and this where I’m going to stay. I wanted to get here as fast as I could, and that’s why I didn’t waste time with other jobs.” You can maybe word it like that.


Another question.


Would it be appropriate in the interview to bring up salaries? How would you bring it up in the most respectable way?


When is the good time to bring up salaries? This is something that I probably stressed out more than I needed to about. Here is the downside with RN salaries is that they are pretty much set. If you’re a brand new grad, I don’t know if you’re a brand new grad, you can let us know in the comments. If you’re a brand new grad you have almost no negotiation room. They have a published rate that they give new grads, and you almost don’t even need to talk about it because what’ll happen like what happened with the Duke job.


They sent me a paperwork and it says here is your salary, here is what you’re going to make, here is when you’re going to make more money. If you’re coming from a different hospital, you have a couple years of experience, this is the time that you can start discussing salary. Sandy, you can correct me if I’m wrong, she’s had many more jobs in hospitals than I have, I wouldn’t probably even bring it up in the first interview.


Yes, I don’t.


I would’ve come back … After they know they want you. Don’t worry about being tacky in that first interview, just let it go, don’t even talk about it. Leave that first interview with them wanting you. They’re going to want you, and when they come back with the phone call … Salary is really something you’ll discuss with the HR anyway. Am I right?


Yes. They’ll bring it up a lot of times.


HR will be the people that are going to talk salary not the manager. When they come back with the offer and say, “Whoa” … Because Sandy has done this few times. They come back with an offer and she says, “That’s several dollars less than I was making before. We got to come up.” They’ll come up and they’ll eventually get to a place you meet at, but interview really isn’t the place to do that. Interview is a way for them to see if they like you, and for you to see if it’s a good fit for you. Did that answer the question? Nursing salaries have ranges. Usually brand new grad there’s a very narrow range, and as you get more experience the range grows, but a lot of times people jump ships at hospitals because after that first year you can more going somewhere else. That’s the recommendation I would have there.


Let me go back to this again. A lot of people are asking things that you would put on resumes. Couple things that I would put on resume is what people want to see. They want to see your history of hard work. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long history of a lot of work but a history hard work, history of dedication. One of the guys that I was able to get a job at my ICU, he had had a job at a clothing store for six or eight years, so nothing related to healthcare but it showed like, this kid can stick with folding shirts all the time. You need skills. It doesn’t have to be related to nursing or healthcare, but unique things.


Some other things I would add on there. If you’re a member of student nurse association, throw it on there. If you went above and beyond and you got your ACLS, throw on there. You should have your BLS already. Did you create a club or group? Did you do any research projects or research papers? We were required to do a research paper. Obviously for my BSN, I put it on there, I was like, “Dude I’ve written these research papers. I’m motivated in this area.” How many hands on hours do you have in an ICU?


Another question.


How can I build myself up during an interview for a medical position when I’ve only worked in psyche substance abuse?


That’s awesome. The fact that you’ve worked in something so unique … If I was a hiring manager or if you came to me and telling me that you had that experience and you’re looking at ICU, or trauma, or ED … Sandy worked ICU too. A lot of your patients are going to be substance abuse patients and psych patients. You’ll be surprised how many EDs and ICUs are kind of psych wards in some ways. Just in your specific case, that’s freaking awesome experience.


I would talk about that, that about specific patients you’ve worked with and how it applies to calming down patients in a hospital, because that’s what nurses end up doing a lot of times, is keeping patients calm and explaining things to family members. In your specific case having that psych substance abuse experience, I would definitely tie that back into nursing. What we do as nurses, is we bring calm in the most turbulent times in people’s lives, and I would build that up as much as you can for sure. Definitely, that’s awesome experience.


If you guys haven’t yet, you can like, comment and share this little segue here. If you could just want to comment and tag a friend or something that has questions about jobs and job searches.


Let me tell you specifically exactly what I did when I applied for my job. What I did is I typed in Google. I did all of those things that I’ve showed you guys, and I was able to … Let me bring it up. I’d made a list on this post on the blog about how I did it. If you guys want to find this post on the blog you can actually type new grad RN ICU residency, apparently this post comes up at number five. It’s 4 No Fail Tips to Get a Spot in the ICU.


What I did is I typed in all those words, did all of those things that I’ve already talked about with you. Doing those tricks I was able to get, like I said, interviews at Duke, Baylor, University of Arkansas Medical Center, Methodist Dallas ICU and multiple smaller ICUs, EDs and ORs. I wasn’t a phenomenal student, I didn’t go to a top tier school by any means, trust me, and Heather could attest to that. My GPA was good, it was decent. What I focused on on finding the right jobs at the right times. What actually did is I typed in Google, I typed in nurse recruiter Dallas Texas, and somehow I found this list of 50 recruiters, the email addresses for every recruiter basically in every hospital in Dallas, then I just spammed them.


I said, “My name is Jon.” I bragged about myself a little bit. I said, “I’m graduating now, this is the experience that I have, this is what I want to do. Think I’d be a great asset to your floor. Do you have any new grad positions available?” I got a couple of people hit me back and let me know when they were going to do things. For example, Baylor has a Facebook page. If anybody is interested in Baylor, fantastic healthcare system. Sandy has worked for them for several years.


Baylor has a Facebook page for their new grad positions. You get on there and the recruiter there will post everything. When it’s due, remind you, so awesome group to be a part of. What I got is I got an email back specifically from one recruiter, and this is weeks before I graduate, so very, very close to being done. She got me on the phone and she talked to me about when everything was due. I sent everything, did everything, went to the interview, I was confident. Showed confidence. I was sweating, I was dying, but then I got the job there.


Another question.


Taylor wants to know what happened to the beard.


Taylor, none of your business man. Sandy makes me shave it every now and then, and I was trying to look nice for everybody tonight. I usually shave about every two weeks.


Another question.


From Trisha. Taking one step back. I’m in a competitive BSN nursing program, I want to be chosen for the critical care fellowship at my local hospital. What type of things I can put on my resume to set me apart from the rest.


Read just the first part again, sorry. I don’t have the question in front of me.


I’m in a competitive BSN nursing program and I want to be chosen for the critical care fellowship at my local hospital.


What was her name?




Trisha, thanks for asking. Everybody is unique, and that sound really whatever, but everybody is unique. Everybody has something unique about them. I never noticed this more than when I talked to my sister who’s an Iron man, triathlete, Boston marathoner. She’s led teams of one of the top orthopedic hospitals in the country, and then she sends me a resume to look at and it’s like, “Hi, my name is Tammy. I want to job.” I’m like, “What about being at the number one orthopedic hospital in the country?” “Oh yeah, there’s that.”


That is healthcare experience, but what I’m saying is what is unique about you? What makes you the person that they want to hire? It doesn’t have to be healthcare stuff. It can be anything. Were you a leader of some organization or some group during college even if it’s not healthcare related. What are those unique few things about you that make you stand out, that show that you’re a leader, that show you’re dedicated, that show you’re hungry for knowledge. That’s what managers really want. Are you going to come to this job everyday? Are you going to work your butt off? Are you going to continually be learning in this field? That’s really what they want to know.  Let’s talk about some specifics.


Other things you could do is you could go and get ACLS certified. You can become ACLS without … That’s advanced cardiac life support. It’s a two day course, you can take it on your own for probably $100 or so, $200. What it does is it puts you in that position with one of the things done that you will have to have done anyway. You can get those certifications, make sure your BLS is up to date. What are some other really good tips. Network with everybody on Facebook that you know, every friend that you have that is a nurse, ask them if there’s positions because sometimes what’s going to set you apart is honestly, it comes down to having connections. First of all, exhaust all of those connections in a good [kosher 00:38:53] way and then also reach out and try to find any tiny things you can do.


Leigh. I would like to be certified and I want to know how long should I wait once I graduate nursing school?


Certified for what? Let’s talk about what we might be talking about certification. If you’re talking about just taking your licensure, I did some research on this, made a post somewhere and I can’t remember where the post is on the blog. The average time for successful NCLEX takers is 45 days after graduation. If you wait much beyond 45 days, your success rate of passing NCLEX actually starts to decline. If you …




Critical care? You cannot become CCRN until you have 1800 hours which comes out about two years. I took mine on the date of that 1800 hours, and I was able to get my 1800 faster because I busted it, you can ask Sandy, she’s here. There were a couple of months there where I just wasn’t home because I was working every extra shift I could, because I wanted to be that knowledgeable nurse, that nurse that people could go to. Number one and number two, I didn’t want to feel high and dry if a code happened or something happened, I don’t want to be the nurse that was like sinking back in the shadows because I didn’t know what to do, I want to be exposed everything I could.


You have to get those 1800 hours first, then you have to apply for the test. It’s really easy to apply for, and then you have to take the test. Two books I would recommend after you pass NCLEX and starting out in ICU, first book is The ICU Book by Dr. Marino. This is an old version, you can see I spilled some soda or something. I think a soda exploded in my car one time when I was in the parking garage here in Dallas.


You can get this older version for $8 on Amazon. Awesome book, way over my head but awesome. The second book that’s much lower level, easier to understand is Pass CCRN by Robin Dennison. Has tons of charts, and graphs, and things. As you guys know, that’s the way I learned, and I have them all here. You can subscribe to the American Journal Critical Care medicine and become an AACN member, that’s like $70 a year, and you get this magazine so you can start learning a ton. The only reason I’m saying do all those things is because if you do all those things when it comes time to take that test, you’re not going to be freaking out preparing for it.


Next question.


Jenny. I’ve volunteered at a local hospital for two years to collect hours for nursing school application. Now that I’m in nursing school I’m considering going back there and volunteer for a few hours a week. Would that volunteering at the hospital on top of my clinical hours [there 00:41:42] set me apart and help me get a job?


Yes. If you’re planning to apply at the same hospital you’re volunteering at and doing your clinical hours at, yes, go for it. If it’s going to stress you to the max of not being able to complete your work, I wouldn’t force it, I wouldn’t push it. If you can get those hours and do well on your school work and everything like that, maybe just do the minimum. Get on as many floors as you can, meet as many managers as you can, buddy up with as many nurses as you can.


Not to be sleazy, not to be [selzy 00:42:13], not to be scummy or anything like that, but just to meet the people that you need to know, that’s going to make the transition much better. If you can do it get in there, especially if it’s the hospital that you’re going to be applying at. I know Heather shared her story, Heather here with NRSNG shared her story. She got a job at the hospital that we all went to school at, and it was because she knew the people.


Sarah. How intimidating was it for you beginning in ICU?


I was pissing bricks, as short answer. It’s terrifying. It’s absolutely, 100% terrifying. I will tell you that after several years experience, some nights it’s absolutely, 100% terrifying. That’s probably true on any floor. Now that I have you sufficiently scared, let me tell you why that’s a good thing. When you work in a hospital, when you work in ED, in ICU, in OR specifically, you literally have people’s lives in your hands. One mistake and you can kill someone, and that death is on you. Having that and respecting that is very terrifying.


There are nurses, and I know you guys aren’t those nurses, trust me, I know that 100%. There are nurses that honestly don’t see it that way, don’t care about it that much. The fact that you’re asking how scared it is shows that you’re one of those that cares, and that gives a damn, and that’s important, that’s so important. I did a podcast recently. If on the blog, there’s a post … Maybe Sandy, you can find it. There’s a post that talked about why should be terrified for your first nursing job. I did a podcast and a blog about it because you need to be terrified because of what’s happening. It’s going to be terrifying, it’s going to be scary, but that’s okay.


When I got my first job I had never met my preceptor, I had been up to the floor a couple times but it was night shift, it was my first time to ever work overnight in my entire life so I brought like a 12 pack of Mountain Dew. It just so happens that the hospital was about 30 miles away and it was downtown traffic to get there. I showed up late, never met my preceptor, never had a real patient on my own, and I was freaking out. There was no way I was going to survive this shift. What my preceptor did, I love my preceptor Vanessa.


She could see that I was really flustered and I was freaking out. I wanted to get there early, look at my patients, learn like you do in clinical in school, but that didn’t happen. She took me aside, she took me over by the break room I remember I just clocked in at the phones, she took me aside and she said, “Look Jon, take a minute, relax, and then we’ll go hit this hard, all right? There’s plenty of time to learn.” It is terrifying, it is so terrifying.


What happens as a new nurse is that everyone knows this, okay? If you’re lucky enough to get into a hospital that has good nurses, good managers, good preceptors, they understand this and they’re here to help you. That’s what we’re doing here too, is we’re here to lift you up and to be that support under you. No one expects you to know everything, no one’s going to leave you on your own during your first shifts, and if they do you need to report that, you need to get out of that environment. No one’s going to put you in an unsafe situation.


Vanessa was like a little bird on my shoulder for the first 13 weeks, and she started to distance more and more as she saw me being more comfortable. As that happens and as you become more confident, you’re going to be more comfortable. No one’s going to put you in a situation where you’re going to have that life in your hands, and they’re going to put you in a situation to fail. While you should be scared, while it is terrifying and scary, you’re going to be supported and you’re going to be okay.


Natasha. I’m dedicated to continuing with my RN critical care is my dream. As an LPN status, what steps would you take to work towards getting experience and more knowledge for the CCU besides course work? What prepared you?


I’ve had no prior medical experience. This is something that I see in myself and a lot of people is that we want to ICU and so we spend a lot of time in school trying to read books like this that we just don’t understand and don’t get. Those books are good and they’re awesome when it’s time for those books. Right now when you’re in school and you’re preparing … You’re in your LPN program going for a bridge I assume. Right now it’s time to be doing that and to be focusing on that and doing the best that you can at that. When the time comes to be in ICU your learning doesn’t stop. You don’t get that ICU job, you don’t walk through that door that first day, and you’re done. The learning continues forever.


What I would say honestly … This probably isn’t the answer you want or the answer that you’re looking for, but what I would honestly say is focus on doing the best that you can in the stage that you’re in. If opportunity arises to float to ICU or to do some tech work or to do some LPN work in ICU, pass meds or whatever it is, take that opportunity and do that, but don’t get worried about these things until it’s time.


I read this book at work, I read this whole book at work. When there was a minute I would open the book and I would read it, and some of the nurses make fun of me. They were on Facebook, or shopping or planning their next vacation, but what I was doing is I was preparing, I was continuing to learn. That’s probably not the answer you want, sorry, but I would say is what matters most in every stage of life, is this stage of life. Doing the best that you can then to prepare for the next one.


Next question.


Mindy. How often are nursing diagnosis used out in the real world? Are they more specific to certain departments like the ICU?


Do you want to be honest? Don’t tell your nursing professor I said this. They aren’t used. When you do your nursing charting, the whole charting like Epic and McKesson and all these programs have nursing charting built in to them to where you have to do a diagnosis, and write your interventions and do all that stuff. That all happens but it’s all clicking boxes. It’s like in impaired skin integrity, and then you’re intervention is I’m going to turn Q two hours, I’m going to make sure they’re getting nutrition. Some of that stuff really helps, the problem is you usually don’t have time to do that until the very end of your shift.


At the end of your shift you’re charting you’re like, “Oh yeah, I probably should have … I probably could have thought about that a little bit more during the shift.” I will say though however, and you can share to your nursing professors this portion. Nursing diagnosis are important now to learn some of the interventions that are possible for patients with different issues. Like the skin care people, the wound care nurses, those interventions and those things that relate to impaired skin integrity matter a ton.


What matters in school is learning how to talk to patients, how to think critically. You see a patient who’s immobile, you had a stroke and now they’re not moving anymore, your mind has to start thinking impaired skin integrity, and you have to start thinking when is this patient going to start eating? When are going to turn this patient? Are we putting Aleve on the bony prominences? Stuff like that. Nursing care plans matter, but how often do we write them out? We don’t, ever. We usually click boxes.


Couple of people have noted that it keeps freezing. I’m not sure why that’s going on.


Sorry guys. That’s really annoying. I don’t know if it is still freezing, sorry. Looks like it’s still freezing. Any other questions?


Yes, there’s another one, it’s a long one. Cathy. I was a none traditional student and just graduated from KU with my BSN. I completed my [inaudible 00:50:38] in the NICU. During this experience I had developed a passion for neonatal ICU. Finding a graduate nurse position in this area is proving difficult for me. During interviews for other opportunities my NICU experience comes up. How would I relate my NICU experiences to these job opportunities such as med-surg, progressive care units or even OR PACU, and especially on handling the differences in patient care loads?


The question is how to get the NICU position or how to …


How to relate that experience to other jobs, to med-surg, PACU.


Getting a job as a new nurse in the NICU … First of all, we’ll just answer that part. I think that’s going to be almost impossible. But transitioning from adult ICU to NICU is much more possible. I’ve seen multiple people I’ve worked with be able to make that transition. They always wanted to work NICU but they started at adult ICU and then move into NICU. Don’t give up on becoming a NICU nurse, I would say give it a year in adult ICU. Let’s talk about the other side of the question. If you have that experience in NICU as doing tech work or whatever it is, that would be so valuable with the adult population because you understand patient loads.


There’s NICU babies that are one to one, a lot of NICU babies are one to one, so you understand giving full attention to a patient that’s very sick, you understand dealing with incredibly complex family dynamic. I’d focus on those family dynamics. I would say something to this effect like, “I know how hard it is to work with family members in very stressful situations, and I know how to help [aleve 00:52:19] that and make that better.” I would say something like that, “And then I understand focusing care on one patient.”


Next question. How many months was your orientation?


Is this still choppy?


Yes. Someone said mine isn’t freezing now but the video is about a minute behind the audio.


Sorry guys. I mean everything looks good from our internet on this side, it’s playing fine but I can see that it’s very choppy. I don’t know what to do. If the video’s a minutes behind I can just take my face off and we can … I can look at stuff here. The question is, how long was my orientation. At my hospital, the orientation was 13 weeks, and I was lucky, as I said, a really good manager, a really good preceptor.


The way that it worked with us is if five weeks in you realize you need more time, they give you more time. If 13 weeks in they realize you need more time, they give you more time. What happens is [this 00:53:42] continually evaluated to see, “Okay, are we needing more time because this is something that can be fixed and be taught? Or is this something that maybe a different floor is better for them?” In the ICU where I work there is three ICUs, the medical, surgical and neuro. There were people that would move between the ICUs throughout internship trying to find the better fit. There were some that ended up going to med-surg and loved it, were happy, very happy. There were others that decided nursing wasn’t right or the hospital wasn’t right.


Long answer short, usually ICU internships are about three to four months. OR internships, operating room internships can be as long as six months. ED internships is also about three to four months. I would look for an internship even med-surg if you’re doing med-surg, I would look for an internship that’s at least four to six weeks just because there’s so much to get comfortable with and so much to learn. I would really try to spend that much time getting to know it.


Any other questions?


No, not right now.


Sorry about the video, that’s really frustrating. I hope I was able to answer some of your questions. I know there’s a ton more we could’ve talk about and I would love to talk about. If you guys have more questions, you know you can always hit us up at and you can always find us on social media, NRSNG, NRSNGcom. I want to know what you guys are struggling with the most. That’s what we’re here for. I’m frustrated with all the junk there is out there for nursing students, and I want to make this journey easier, better, more doable for you.


Anything we can do to make that better, please let us know. If this video was helpful, let us know, give us a like, give us a comment, hit us up on social media, share with a friend. I’m going to put this video up on YouTube and over on the blog. If this was helpful, please share with a friends, let us know, let’s grow this family bigger. We’re here for you, we want to see you succeed, and happy nursing.


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