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Critical Care New Graduate Nurse Residency Program 

The Critical Care New Graduate Nursing Residency Program is an accelerated, intensive training program dedicated to supporting nurses looking to enter the highly specialized field of paediatric critical care nursing. 

Through the residency program, new graduates enter an orientation stream that provides a graduated entry into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) or the Cardiac Critical Care Unit (CCCU). 

The program begins on an inpatient host unit and transitions into the critical care environment over a one-year process. Graduates of the program are supported to practice critical care nursing safely, competently and ethically.


[The SickKids logo appears on a white background] 

[The title displayed on the Critical Care New Graduate Nursing Residency Program webpage is circled with animation] 

Voiceover: The Critical Care New Graduate Nurse Residency Program is a competitive program designed to allow new graduate nurses interested in paediatric critical care to enter an orientation stream with a phased approach.  

Text on screen: competitive program designed to allow new graduate nurses 

[Three images of three different nurses flash up on the screen] 

Voiceover: The Critical Care Units include the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Cardiac Critical Care Unit.  

Text on screen: Critical Care Units, Paediatric Intensive Care & Cardiac Critical Care 

Voiceover: The critical care and inpatient units have collaborated to create a program that begins on the inpatient unit and transitions into the critical care environment over a one-year process. 

[Three images of nurses appear in three separate columns labelled Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3.] 

[A graphic of an arrow moves from left to right across the screen from text reading “Inpatient Unit” to “Critical Care Unit”]  

[Four images of nurses mentoring new graduate nurses appear in four quadrants of the screen]  

Text on screen: Mentorship, Feedback, Education, Support 

Voiceover: Throughout the program, nurses are provided with mentorship, feedback, education and support in developing the required clinical competencies to care for our critically ill patients. 

Text on screen: clinical competencies 

Voiceover: Graduates of the program will be supported to practice critical care nursing safely, competently and ethically. 

[A senior nurse looks on as a new graduate nurse practices caring for a patient] 

[A pair of hands wearing blue surgical gloves adjusts a tube] 

[A nurse wearing a face shield and surgical mask removes a stethoscope from around their neck] 

Text on screen: Safely, Competently, Ethically 

Voiceover: Phase 1 focuses on gaining the foundational knowledge and skills of paediatric nursing care. 


[A yellow block with the number 1 appears on screen]  

Text on screen: Phase 1, Foundational Knowledge, Paediatric Nursing Orientation, Host Unit Orientation, Preceptorship 

[A mentor demonstrates performing chest compressions on a manikin] 

[A hand opens a textbook on cardiac critical care] 

[A nurse opens a drawer filled with medicine] 

[A senior nurse looks on as a new nurse practices refilling medication] 

[A senior nurse walks into a room with a new nurse]  

[The senior nurse pulls open a drawer as the new nurse observes] 

Voiceover: Phase 2 focuses on independent practice within your host unit while also starting to cultivate critical care skills through a variety of learning methods. 


[A pink block with the number 2 appears on screen] 

Text on screen: Phase 2, Independent Practice, Independent Practice Host Unit, Shadow Shifts Critical Care, Transitional Learning, Simulations 

[The camera closes in on a nurse with their hair in two braids, wearing a blue surgical mask] 

[Close up of a heart-rate monitor] 

[A finger taps on the monitor] 

[Small, clear bottles of medicine] 

[A new nurse holds a bottle of medicine and looks at the label] 

[A hand wearing a blue glove holds a stethoscope on a manikin’s chest] 

[A new nurse walks into a room and pulls out a drawer of medicine] 

[The new nurse exits the room and looks at the bottle of medicine in his hand and nods to himself] 

Voiceover: Phase 3 is a progression into the Critical Care Unit and includes a comprehensive orientation program specific to paediatric critical care. 


[A blue block with the number 3 appears on the screen] 

Text on screen: Phase 3, Progression to Critical Care, Critical Care Orientation, Preceptorship, Graduated Independence 

[The doors to the Paediatric Critical Care Unit open] 

[Two nurses walk together through the Critical Care Unit] 

[A hand taps buttons on a machine] 

[Two new nurses practice caring for a patient as a senior nurse looks on and nods supportively] 

[The three nurses gather around a manikin to simulate caring for a critical care patient] 

[A new nurse and the senior nurse exit the room together] 

Voiceover: We look forward to speaking with you about this exciting career opportunity. 

Text on screen: We look forward to speaking with you about this exciting career opportunity! 


[The SickKids logo appears on a white background] 


  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree in nursing 
  • Registration with the College of Nurses of Ontario as a Registered Nurse (General Class preferred, or Temporary with intent to write NCLEX within 60 days of being accepted into the program)  
  • Recent graduate with up to six months experience in nursing 
  • Previous student nursing experience in placement and/or as a clinical extern in an acute care medical/surgical unit or critical care environment is required
  • Paediatric critical care experience is considered a strong asset; consideration will also be given to applicants with acute care experience
  • Demonstrated ability to use your critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • No specific critical care course is required


  • Competency in the application of critical care paediatric nursing knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours 
  • Enhanced professional well-being throughout the transition into paediatric nursing practice 
  • Engagement in professional development with an ongoing spirit of clinical inquiry and integration of evidence-based practice 
  • A keen sense of peer collaboration, interprofessional teamwork and organizational connection 
  • Advocacy skills for patients, caregivers and self 
  • A network of professional relationships 
  • Exemplify leadership skills gained from the program 
  • Direct career pathway
  • After completing the 12-month residency program, residents will transition to a full-time, permanent job as a Registered Nurse in either the CCCU or the PICU.  

Competency assessments

Competency assessments are conducted throughout the program in partnership with the inpatient host unit and the Critical Care Unit (CCU) to determine the individual's competency levels and graduation trajectory.

Why SickKids Critical Care Program

  • Largest PICU in Canada
  • Average 1,200 patients a year
  • Patients from across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario and Canada
  • Diversity in patient populations
  • Fast-paced, high acuity 
  • Focused patient care 
  • Evidence-based
  • Large, multi-disciplinary team
  • Advanced technology
  • Career advancement
  • Scheduling perks
  • Opportunities for continued growth  
  • Mentorship and coaching 
  • Leadership development & opportunities 
  • Career support 

Program overview

Phase 1: Paediatric Foundations

The first three months of the program

  • Developing paediatric foundations on inpatient medical-surgical unit
  • Focus on mental health and well-being of the health-care provider
  • Mentorship sessions with Clinical Orientation Support Nurse (COSN) in host unit

Phase 2: Paediatric Specialty Progression

From three to six months of the program

  • Exposure to step-down intermediate-care patients
  • Early observer shifts in PICU or CCCU
  • Mental health, wellbeing and engagement of nurse residents addressed through regular check-ins
  • Mentorship with COSN in host unit as well as experienced PICU/CCU RN(s) mentor will be organized

Phase 3: Entry to Critical Care

From six months to one year of the program

  • CCU orientation program
  • Ten weeks in-class and buddied shifts
  • Three weeks of preceptor-supervised shifts
  • Three weeks where you are independently caring for a patient, with a preceptor as a resource
  • Competency-based orientation

Kickstart your nursing career with our Critical Care New Graduate Nurse Residency Program!

For more information about the program, please contact Shelby Watson, Program Interprofessional Education Specialist.

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