Advice - work as NICU equip tech as a student?

  1. I am in an accelerated BSN program, to graduate August '07 (one year!!!) and have been looking for a part time job. I have an interview for an equipment tech position in the NICU and wanted some advice. Here are the pros and cons as I see them...

    PROS
    -gets my foot in the door at a good hospital with a great NICU
    -NICU is the area I want to work in, and I hear it is difficult to get at a grad
    -good networking possibility
    -good to start at the bottom and prove myself
    -weekend only hours that fit with my schedule and are very flexible
    -can at least get comfortable in the environment and observe, plus learn the equipment

    CONS
    -no patient contact

    Ok, only one con, but it's a big one. I would prefer a pt care tech position, but none are available. I understand that there is a possibility to move up from this position, but who knows if anything will open up over the next year?

    What do you all think? If offered, should I go for it? I have not heard from any other hospitals that I applied for PCT positions with, and none of those positions were in the NICU.
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   Gompers
    I'd take it. Don't be offended that you don't get to do patient care - there is a reason for that! The NICU is a critical care unit, after all. Yes, some units do have nursing assistants helping care for the babies, but really, many of these babies are so fragile - it's too much of a risk to have non-RN staff caring for them. Even a "stable" baby, a "feeder-grower" as we call them, can get sick LIKE THAT. We've had codes in our step-down area!

    Besides, what you need to do is get yourself INSIDE a NICU, period. When you graduate, a nurse manager will see that you worked in a NICU during school and therefore have an idea as to what goes on there. I've seen a lot of new grads without NICU experience leave within a year because they can't handle the ups and downs that come with caring for critically ill infants. It just wasn't what they expected, you know? By spending time in a NICU outside of school, you'll see what it's all about before you have to decide where your first RN job is.

    Plus, if this particular NICU does employ patient care techs, you would probably be first in line for one of the positions because it's easier to get hired from within the system, especially within the unit. But like I said, don't worry about the patient contact too much - you'll learn all you need to know when you become an RN and have your orientation.

    The job I had my senior year in nursing school was similar to what you describe - no real patient contact. Sometimes if a baby was really cranky they'd have me hold it, but that's about it. Most of the time I was stocking the unit, cleaning the equiptment, answering the phones, running errands.

    BUT I was right there. I was putting orders into the computer when a baby got sick, learning through osmosis the kind of support they needed. During a code, I'd be running around getting things and helping out. When I'd stock the unit, I'd ask what this or that was for, and the nurses would explain things to me. I saw the good times and the bad times.

    If I had to choose between that job, or one in, say, a newborn nursery feeding and doing vitals on babies, I'd chose the NICU one again in a second. The exposure I got there was the validation I needed that it was where I wanted to begin my nursing career.

    Good luck!
  4. by   fleur-de-lis
    Thanks for the advice - I think you're right. The interview went well, though she has one more person to interview. I was told that there is a good possibility of being able to move into an RN position when I graduate, but they don't hire many new grads for pt care positions because of turnover, which I understand. I think just being on the unit will help me get a foot in the door. This is definitely a no pt contact position, they said I can't even give a baby a pacifier or soothe a crying baby, which I get, because most of the people in this position would not have pt care experience. I will let y'all know if I get the offer. Thanks again!!

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