CNA's in the NICU: Responsibilities?

  1. I just about have my CNA and I've seen jobs posted for CNA's in one of our NICU's. Since this is the area I'm considering after nursing school, it would be a great place to gain experience.

    My question is, what are the responsibilities of a CNA in a NICU? I know it's would be different from adult ICU's or adults and peds in general, but what are the specific job responsibilities of a CNA in a NICU?

    Thanks!
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   prmenrs
    I guess you would have to ask that institution, but, I don't think it would involve direct pt. care. In larger units, CNAs can be used to stock cupboards, run stuff to the lab, clean equipment, i.e., non-nursing tasks. Sounds pretty unexciting, but I can tell you life for the nurse would be a nightmare w/o that support!
  4. by   BabyNurse513
    In my current unit, our CNA's check vitals, abdominal girths, change diapers, bottle feed, and prepare tube feeds. They can draw PKU's as well. In my last unit they couldn't do any patient care so it really depends on the unit.
  5. by   Gompers
    Quote from prmenrs
    I guess you would have to ask that institution, but, I don't think it would involve direct pt. care. In larger units, CNAs can be used to stock cupboards, run stuff to the lab, clean equipment, i.e., non-nursing tasks. Sounds pretty unexciting, but I can tell you life for the nurse would be a nightmare w/o that support!
    That's what I did as a CNA in the NICU of a children's hospital. I would also do secretarial duties if there was not one on that shift. But it still put me in the unit, right there, so I could see what NICU was all about. It also looked great on my resume!

    In my current unit, we just hired junior and senior nursing students to do CNA type duties. They do fill in for the secretaries at times, and they also help clean equiptment or go on runs to blood bank, lab, or pharmacy. But they also get to do some patient care with the grower-feeder babies. They do vitals, assessments, baths, weights, and PO feedings. At this point they don't do any labwork or NG feedings. For each baby they care for, the previous and following vitals/feedings must be done by an RN, so at least one of us has our eyes on the baby. If they find anything abnormal, like something different from the last assessment, they need to get one of us to look at the baby.

    I am a little nervous about this, I tell ya. Some of them haven't had their Peds or OB classes or clinicals yet. Yes, we train them for a few weeks on the unit, but still. We also use respiratory therapists to do CNA type things if they have an extra RT. These are RTs that almost always work in our NICU with us, so they work with babies like this all the time. They also get a couple of weeks training on caring for the grower-feeders. They are allowed to do NG feedings. I just feel more comfortable with them, because they deal with sick babies all the time and know when a kid isn't looking good. But I think as time goes on I'll get used to the CNAs as well. Change is hard!

    I do think that if you get the chance to work as a CNA in the NICU, jump at the job. Even if there is very little patient care - TAKE IT. It will put you right in the middle of a unit so you can really see what goes on there. You get so much experience that way.
  6. by   OB_or_NICU_hopeful
    I've inquired at three local Level III NICU's; here's what I found out:

    Children's hospital (regional NICU) uses PCA's and they do provide direct patient care.

    Good Samaritan Hospital just gave all patient care back to the RN's. PCA's are now called Nurse Techs and prepare formula, stock shelves, do laundry, etc. No direct patient care to ANY babies. They did tell me that if you are a PCA on the unit and are in nursing school, the RN's will give you minimal patient care tasks (diapering, feeding, etc.).

    University Hospital doesn't have PCA's in the NICU, but they have volunteers that diaper, feed (by mouth) and cuddle. You don't handle isolation babies or any babies in an incubator.

    It's insane what differences there are in these hospitals!

    Good luck
  7. by   prmenrs
    JMHO, but I believe CNAs doing direct pt care in a NICU is not a good idea. These babies can get sick @ the drop of a hat. I've seen them get septic on the day of discharge!!!! Waaay scary.
  8. by   babycheekz420
    to BABYRN2B i was just wondering how was the training/testing for CNA's? im a fulltime junior in college and im thinking about becoming a CNA to get some more experience in the NICU...
  9. by   BabyRN2Be
    Quote from babycheekz420
    to BABYRN2B i was just wondering how was the training/testing for CNA's? im a fulltime junior in college and im thinking about becoming a CNA to get some more experience in the NICU...
    Check with your local community college or any votech schools in your area. It varies state by state.

    Thank you for all of your responses. I really appreciate it and I know that it would vary from hospital to hospital. Wow... all the differences can be mind boggling sometimes.

    Prmenrs, oh yes, I am very well aware that these kiddos can change from moment to moment. You mentioned one getting septic on d/c. I've seen this happen before. This is why I was wondering about CNA's in NICU's. I know that the RN has got to keep his/her eyes on the babes at all times. I was wondering IF there was any room for direct patient care by CNA's. I agree with you, it may not be the most exciting work, but the experience I would gain would be immense.

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