I have just finished my second week of residency! My placement was bittersweet. I was placed at my #1 pick at UCSD CVC ICU. As many of you may know by now, I am extremely interested in critical care. My preceptor works on night shifts (1900-0730) and I am a morning person. This was quite a difficult lifestyle change to make in such a short amount of time.

A post on some tricks and tips I have picked up on managing nightshift will come soon! I am still figuring out what works for me personally, but I will be sure to post all the recommendations I have received.

How to Land your #1 Residency Pick

At APU, residency is apart of the program. We are lucky enough to have great relationships with many hospitals in the area. There are many different units and locations to choose from. They vary each year (slightly), but if you are not seeing something you like on the list. Talk to your instructor and see if she can make something happen 😉

Alright, so how did I get the highly coveted UCSD Cardio ICU position? To be honest, it was half luck. The instructors sit down and work it out so everyone gets one of their top 5. This takes some strategy and may result in some not getting their 1st pick so that everyone gets on in their top 5. Know who the instructors are that decide residency! Make your passion and work ethic known! I am very verbal about my passion for critical care. I also maintain excellent grades and work hard every time I am on the floor. Be your biggest advocate that you can leave as little up to chance as possible.

Also, know that Peds, ED, and ICU positions are the most preferred among students. There are only so many to go around. If you do not get your first pick, do not be disappointed. Make the most of it. You will still have plenty to learn. More importantly, plenty of people to network with. Sharp happens to love APU students. If you can get a residency position on any unit at sharp, it is likely they will hire you on as a new grad.

If you attend the school that does not include residency in your program, do not fear! Many hospitals offer externships you can take while in a nursing program (ex: Kaiser, UCSD). Research hospitals in your area and find out what externships are available to you!

How to Make the Most of Residency

How can you make the most out of your residency?

  1. Invest in good compression socks and comfy shoes! You will be on your feet and you want to put as little strain on your body as possible. After all this isn’t normal clinicals anymore, you will be working the hours of a real RN!
  2. Always show up like it is an interview. YOU WILL BE WATCHED! If you are some one that works hard, seeks learning opportunities, and lends a hand wherever help is needed, they will want to hire you!
  3. Know your charge nurses and nurse managers!
  4. Come in early! I don’t digest report nearly as fast as my nurse so I come in early to see my assignment and browse the chart until my nurse gets there. This helps me be prepared and helps me plan for that first busy part of the shift.
  5. Take care of yourself! I make sure to get plenty of sleep before my shift. I drink tons of water throughout the shift, and always bring more food than I think I will need. If you need to run off for a quick bathroom break, to get a sip of water, or to scarf down a snack, don’t be afraid to ask. Also, I keep an energy drink (double shot espresso) on board in case I get the end of shift sludge.
  6. Make a list of things you want to see and do. Make this known to you nurse so they can do their best to seek out those learning opportunities. If another nurse has a patient needing a procedure or whatever it may be that you want to see, ask your nurse if you can pop in!
  7. Take notes! I kept a tiny notebook to write down things I would want to review later.
  8. Keep a residency journal! This will be very useful for when you need to answer situational interview questions when you land that new grad job interview!
  9. Leave a lasting impression. Don’t break the bank, but leave something nice for your preceptor(s). I would also leave a box of bagels or doughnuts for the floor!
  10. If you did all the above, your preceptor should be willing to write you a glowing reference letter. Don’t be afraid to ask!