How I decided on my specialty of critical care nursing

How did you decide on your specialty? (self.nursing)

submitted 1 day ago by LyanroarNursing Student

Hi nurses! It\’s me, Lyanroar aka Professor Whiskers. I\’m curious how you all decided which field you wanted to work in. Did you know from the outset, or did you make your decision later? Are you happy with your decision? If you\’ve changed fields, why? How was the transition?

via How did you decide on your specialty? :nursing

I’m a lil’ late to the party (8 years late), but I’ve recently discovered reddit. Yeah, I know. Reddit is NOT new. It’s just new to me – sorry.


I read the above question the other day and I thought I’d share how I chose critical care (although I think I’ve shared this before).

The irony about me choosing critical care, is that it came out of left field. It was sort of a slap in the face realization, not a planned or thought-out decision. I had always thought I would slide right into some sort of orthopedic related nursing field simply because it was the logical transition from my previous career. I was an athletic trainer for over a decade, so it only made sense to stay ‘with the bones’.

Or so I thought.

I had approached my ‘ICU rotation’ as a nursing student like all the others that I was unfamiliar with. “Let’s just get through this”. Up until this particular rotation nothing really stood out in my new ‘nursing world’. Med-surg, ped’s, OB, ED, etc. They all sort of blended together, each having some cool features.. but for me nothing really resonated.

I can remember worrying that I had made a mistake entering nursing school. I was just going through the motions. Nothing had excited me.

My first day in the ICU I was scared outta my mind. Monitors beeping, people with tubes coming out of every orifice, gadgets and medications that required some serious brain power. WOAH.

Thankfully our instructors eased us into our responsibilities. By the end of my experience I wasn’t nearly as scared. I got to calculate drip rates, give cardio-reacitve medications, participate in a real ‘CODE’, watch a bronchoscopy, watch an intubation, see how quickly interventions in the ICU gave tangible and palpable results, etc. The list was endless.

I was hooked.

I was excited.

I was anxious to go back.

I wanted to learn more.

I wanted to do more.

I wanted to be more.

I wanted to be like those nurses. How smoothly they reacted to some of the scariest things. And how their reactions and subsequent actions and interventions mattered – almost immediately.

I can remember walking out of my patient’s room one of the last days I was on the unit. I had just given some IV lopressor. As we nurses know,  you’re supposed to watch the monitor for rebound bradycardia and hypotension.  You don’t want to give the med to fast.

It may sound crazy but I was fascinated by the concept that a medication that I was pushing through an IV could have such an immediate impact on my patient’s hemodynamics. I sat and chatted with my patient while keeping the monitor in view.

When I walked out of the patient’s room, my instructor pointed out that I looked very ‘comfortable’ and ‘in my element’.

He couldn’t have been more right.

I never looked back after that. I jumped head first into the ICU fresh out of graduation from my diploma program and 8 years later here I am practicing as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the ICU.

Yep, I’m ‘in my element’.

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