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The Three Stages of Moving From the ICU to the PICU

November 15, 2018

Are you currently working as an adult ICU nurse, but considering a transition to the pediatric ICU?

If you decide to embark on this journey, you could improve your career mobility and earning trajectory significantly when you take a Fastaff travel PICU job.

Job Outlook for Pediatric Nurses

According to Nurse Journal, the job market for pediatric nurses is predicted to grow 19% by the year 2022, faster than average in comparison to other jobs across the U.S.

Moving from the ICU to the PICU

Here is a high level look at the recommended steps to make this career-accelerating move.

 1. Earn your Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification

  • Should you make the decision to work in a pediatric environment, as part of your training, you will be required to obtain your Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification, or PALS. We recommend the one provided by the American Heart Association.

  • PALS is usually the only ‘new’ certification you will need to obtain, but your ACLS will come in handy too. This is because there will always be young adults in the PICU as a result of ongoing conditions from childhood, (Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, etc.) which will most likely be managed by pediatric doctors.  

 2. Explore your cross-training options   

  • Once you’ve decided the PICU is where your career is headed, begin the process by discussing your desire to work there with your manager. You will want to ask about the potential to cross-train in the PICU, and the internal steps to be considered or eligible for a transfer. Ask for recommendations on who to talk to and how to begin the process.

    • Having the support of your supervisor will make the transition smoother as you prepare to take on more responsibility.

  • You’ll also want to connect with a nurse who already works in the PICU, to get first hand advice, recommendations and direction.  

  • Introduce yourself to the PICU manager and express your desire to expand your experience.

    • Ask to shadow a PICU nurse for a day to ensure this is something you want to do.

    • Find out what that orientation and training period looks like and how to balance your current unit responsibilities.

    • Check open positions at your hospital and talk to HR about availability.

  • You will most likely be required to participate in a PICU orientation program, which may include some classroom time and time on the floor with a preceptor.

  • Once you’re cleared to take your own patients, you may continue to work both units (adult and pediatric ICU).

  • The transition between units may be more seamless than you think, as many of the medications and diagnoses are similar between the ICU and PICU.

    • Once of the largest variances you may experience is the difference in communication with adults in the ICU, vs. children and their families.

3. Apply to PICU positions

Once you’ve successfully completed your transition steps, you will be eligible for higher paying jobs at more facilities nationwide. And while most hospitals require at least a year in the PICU before they will hire you as a traveler, you will find that once you’ve completed this requirement, the job market will continue to be strong, with a high demand for nurses like you, who can now take jobs in both the adult ICU and the pediatric ICU.

Even better, Fastaff PICU nurses often earn up to 24% more than Fastaff ICU nurses, depending on location, hours worked, and experience.

For a list of current Fastaff PICU jobs and a transparent look at what they pay, click here.

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