What is the best way to get a face with the application?
Did you go with HR or shadow and day and make sure to meet the Nurse manager?
I spent 5 8-hour days during my last semester of school doing part of my practicum in a NICU. I made sure to at least look competent, and make friends with the staff. [My unit doesn't typically hire new grads] I found a vacant night shift position, applied for it, and asked the NM while I was there if I could interview for it. By then most of the staff had met me, and knew I was interviewing. They told me later that they had put in a good word for me with the NM. At the end of the interview, the NM said she would hire me, so I waited to take my boards, knowing I had a job. So I was all set even before I graduated. [this was the beginning of April, I graduated in MAy] Just make sure you come across as someone they want to hire and work with. NICU's are very busy with a high acuity level. They don't want someone whose hand they'll have to hold for a long time. Be confident, and ask to do things, and offer to help anyone who looks like they need it.
What are some of the specific things that you looked for in the orientation period.
- I looked for length [I only got 6weeks] and choice in preceptors. You'll want an older and more experienced nurse to orient you. They usually will have got it down pat, and have a good teaching attitude. You don't want someone who is going to let you do all the grunt work while she sits at the desk, but one who is there with you, familiarizing you with all the inner workings of the NICU.
How about on the unit itself? Things you really like/dislike/what to look for.
- Equipment...is it modern, clean, conducive to infection control, or is it old and probably contaminated with germs?
- Staffing...Are there enough RN's on staff? while no unit is usually fully staffed, you shouldn't be pulled from orientation to take a full assignment more than once.
- Is the staff content, or on edge and infighting?
- Strong management that advocates for their nurses?
- MD's that teach
- Will they let you learn on intensive babies, or will they only give you feeder growers. [ I request intensives all the time. I just prefer it, and learn more]
- Is it an open unit, or hve individual rooms [open unit is what I prefer. Easier to hear alarms, monitor pts.
- Do the RN's get to go on deliveries?
- Pt/Staff ratio [I get either 2 intensives or 3 mixed intensive/intermediate/Cont.care babies]
When should I start applying?
While doing your practicum. Ask the staff, NM if a position is open, and if you can apply for it and be interviewed. Definitely try to have it nailed down before you graduate. No earlier than March if your are graduating in MAy. Usually units need RN's sooner rather than later.
Hope this helps!