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critical care, internship, nurse intern, orientation, stressors



  1. Badger, James M. PhD, APRN, BC


Rhode Island Hospital Critical Care Nurse Internship program prepares recent graduates to work in critical care specialty units. Despite best efforts to prepare nurse interns for immersion into the critical care arena, significant clinical challenges await, and it is unknown how individual nurse interns will react under stressful clinical encounters. With this concern in mind, it was decided to add a new lecture to the critical care curriculum to address psychological reactions related to critical care nursing. This article presents an overview of 4 major psychological reactions critical care nurse interns will likely experience including acute bereavement reactions, moral distress, secondary traumatization, and performance guilt. Specific strategies to navigate these difficult encounters are explored.