Final Year Student Going to NICU Needs Advice

  1. Hi All,

    I'm a final year nursing student about to go on my second last clinical (ever!) I'm going to a major neonatal intensive care, which is a tertiary referal centre and surgical centre. I'm super excited!

    BUT I don't know anything about newborns or preterm bubs. We've barely covered more than a brief 'this is how you swaddle a baby' in second year. I have paeds experience but this is a whole other world... Everything about these babies is different and I don't even know the normal ranges for neonatal vital signs!! I've checked some texts out of the library at uni but was hoping some of the NICU veterans here could give me (and other students heading in NICUs) some advice.

    These are some of the questions that have been worrying me:

    What should I know before the first day?
    What should I keep written down in my pockets to refer to?
    What sorts of things should I be asking the RNs?
    What could I expect to do and see?
    What should I be reading up on?
    What are normal vital signs for these babies?
    What sorts of problems might the babies have?
    What is different between NICU and adult ICU that I should be aware of?
    What do tou think I can do to get the most out of this experience?

    Thank you so much for any advice you might have. So many of the threads here have been really helpful to read
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    About imaginations

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 125; Likes: 35
    Registered Nurse; from AU


  3. by   prmenrs
    Do you have a faculty advisor? If not, I'd start w/Merenstein and Gardner (avail on Amazon) and NeoFax. Wash your hands a LOT. Hold babies whenever you can. Good Luck!!

    Definitely bring a calculator. You will be calculating every dose you give. There are not as many different meds as in adult medicine. You will see a LOT of Ampicillin and either Cef or Gent.

    Babies do not have a lot of ways to tell you something's not right--it's very subtle.
    Last edit by prmenrs on Aug 12, '11
  4. by   prmenrs
    Check out the App Store, but don't spend too much. There is one app I love called "Jaundice", I think it's ~ $5, but it's really cool-- you enter the baby's age in hours and the Bilirubin level, and it suggests whether the baby needs bili lights or not.
  5. by   spacey
    See if your library has any books written for parents of premies in the NICU. It will help you relate to them, but will also have very simple easy to quickly understand definitions of the things you will see and be exposed to. Also recommended, but more technical, are the books designed to help RN's prep for NICU certification. Rest assured, you will learn what you need mostly as on the job training... and it will eventually become second nature. Even experienced RN's come in and feel like it's a different universe.... give yourself a year to feel comfortable and another year to feel confident. Good luck!
  6. by   NICU_babyRN
    Quote from prmenrs

    Babies do not have a lot of ways to tell you something's not right--it's very subtle.
    Babies have MANY ways of telling you something is not right, so I am going to disagree with the above post. The ways are subtle but an RN with the proper training knows that yawning, hiccups, mottling, changes in gaze are just a few of the ways that invents say "hey, i'm overstimulated, hurry up and let me rest".
    People also don't realize that it's best to offer one comfort measure at a time. Rocking + pacifier + talking to a baby all at once can actually make things worse!

    With all that being said, trust whoever orients you, ask lots of questions, and make sure you know your medication calculations. Always always always check your meds!
  7. by   hraneeRN
    During the few weeks on the unit I would focus on assesment norms and abnormals......Ask lots of questions about what to expect and when to be concerned, i spent wat too much time and energy worrying about little things....this made learning bigger and more complex things more difficult, direct your energy wisely! Learning is hard and draining! Do your best but remeber you will NOT be perfect, and its ok