AJN On the Cover
The photograph on our cover is from an award-winning four-part series published October 2005 in the Boston Globe, written by Scott Allen, and entitled “Critical Care: The Making of an ICU Nurse.” On the far right is first-year ICU nurse Julia Zelixon, six months into her “crash course” in critical care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Under the watchful eye of senior nurse Michele Jerard (M. J.) Pender behind her, Julia takes a leading role in stabilizing a “sick admit” for the first time—a critical test of how Julia would behave in the high-pressure situations common in the ICU.
As the article explains, up until 2001, nurses at Mass General had to have one to three years of hospital experience before they could work in the ICU, a requirement that gave them “more on-the-job training than most residents.” Julia, a recent graduate with no hospital experience, was taking part in Mass General's eight-month ICU training program. Despite that some veteran nurses questioned allowing new graduates to work in the ICU, doubting they had enough experience for life-and-death decision making, almost one-fifth of Julia's graduating class immediately filled ICU or ED positions.
That's not the reality today, as the economic downturn has resulted in fewer open positions. Many new graduates have had difficulty finding jobs, especially in hospitals, where almost all nursing positions require some prior experience. To read the original four-part series, go to www.boston.com/news/special/nursing/top.—Michael Fergenson, senior editorial coordinator