Anesthesiology/ICU Experience


Hi Mike,

I wanted to start by thanking you for sharing your knowledge and expertise as a CRNA with those aspiring to work in the field.  I have benefited greatly from reading your posts and value the thoughtful answers you provide.

My question is, what is the best way for a new nursing graduate to go about gaining employment in an ICU setting directly out of nursing school?  From the research I have done, this is an uncommon though not impossible task.  I understand exceptions can be made for hardworking, motivated new grads who gain ICU experience while in clinical rotations during their BSN programs. Unfortunately, the Accelerated BSN program I am in does not offer clinical rotations in the ICU nor do they recommend working while in school, so what alternatives would I have to gain this experience to make me marketable in the ICU setting directly out of school?  

I also understand that some hospitals recruit new nursing grads and place them in ICU training programs.  How does one go about finding out which hospitals are willing to hire new grads and what is the best way to prepare for employment in an ICU while still in nursing school?  In the event of little to no prior experience, do recommendations from nursing faculty help at all (that is assuming a new grad can even get an interview)?  

I am an older student and willing to invest the time needed in an ICU to gain the critical skills (I know you recommended a minimum of 3 years to another poster); however, I would like to be able to hit the ground running straight out of nursing school and minimize the length of time in gaining employment in the ICU setting.  I have spent time in ICU settings (though not in a professional capacity) and am aware of the intense nature of this workload.

Any insights you can provide would be most appreciated!

Hey mani

Sorry for the delayed reply, im on call and getting hammered ;) However, thanks for your question!

First let me say that I have been out of the hospital as an RN for over 6 years so my information is only related to the hospitals I work at as a CRNA now. This may or may not apply to your region and the best way is to talk directly to each hospital you are considering.

In Arizona things have changed alot in the last decades. It was not long ago that they were talking new grads right into the ER and ICU with preceptor programs lasting anywhere form 3-6 months. However, that is a considerable expense to the hospital and you can imagine if they dont have to spend that $$ they wont. So with an increase in RNs looking for jobs hospitals can be more selective. Ive noticed alot more places NOT offering this option and not taking new grads in the ICU and ER anymore. Even more hospitals who will not higher non-BSN RNs.

One of the things that helps is if you can get your last clinical stint in a unit you would like to work in. This takes out all the unknowns of hiring a new grad since they would know you for a few months and can allow you to be more comfortable and require less orientation time as well.

However the best advice i can give is to talk directly to units and see what they are doing for new grads.

Hope this helps a little!


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Mike MacKinnon MSN FNP-C CRNA


I am a former Trauma Flight RN now a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNAs). I can help answer questions on the CRNA profession and clinical anesthesia. I work full time as an independent practice CRNA and have a special interest in regional anesthesia, particularly peripheral nerve blocks. I also teach ultrasound regional anesthesia and lecture all over the country. If I do not know the answer, I will find it for you.


I am a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse Anesthetist who works as an independent/autonomous practitioner. There are often questions about my profession and I would like to offer the service of an actual CRNA. If you did not know, there are about 40000 of us which equates to 50% of the anesthesia providers in the USA today. I also lecture and teach ultrasound regional anesthesia all over the country.

AANA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)
IARS (International Anesthesia Research Society) AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners)

Air Medical Transport Journal
OutPatient Surgery Magazine

Bachelors of Science in Nursing
Masters in Nursing
Family Nurse Practitioner
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Awards and Honors
Excellence in anesthesia education award

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