how to start a career in the NICU

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    I am a nursing student and am very much intrested neonatal care. It is the reason i decided to become a nurse. i do not mind working on a med/surg floor but i don't enjoy it. is it possible to begin working in the NICU or nursery right after graduating? If not what path should i take to eventually work in this feild?
    I would also appreciate input regarding feelings about working in NICU. THANK YOU!!!
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    I agree with above posting...I did NICU for 15yrs + and LOVED every minute...and still miss it 5yrs out. Ipersonally feel a new grad needs to know what a full term babies "norms" are and then can learn specialties of the preemie world...alot is very specific like growth and developement/ meds and calculating dosages, calories per kg, cc's per kg etc. So all the suggests about cross training are excellent, critical care skills are valuable everywhere. Taking NALS and PALS will really help you plus make you an attractive prospect. Best of Luck...my heart is torn between Neonatology and Pediatric Emergency.
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    Originally posted by myles:
    I am a nursing student and am very much intrested neonatal care. It is the reason i decided to become a nurse. i do not mind working on a med/surg floor but i don't enjoy it. is it possible to begin working in the NICU or nursery right after graduating? If not what path should i take to eventually work in this feild?
    I would also appreciate input regarding feelings about working in NICU. THANK YOU!!!
    Hello I started working in the NICU right out of my program. My program offered six weeks at the end of the program to work anywhere in the city. I choose the hospital i work at now. If your program does not offer this several nurses I know started working in the nursery or PICU and asked if they could be cross trained in the NICU. We float to PICU often so several nurses float to the NICU to be cross trained. Take the certification, Neonatal Resuscitation. (NRP) Read as much as you can to become familiar with neonates. They teach nothing in nursing school. Talk to a nurse manager of a NICU at the hospitals you visit to see what they expect. There are ways to become a NICU nurse. I have tried to go back for my masters in nurse anesthesia, but the NICU keeps me coming back for more. I would not do anything else. The rewards are great. Good luck
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    Originally posted by shands5690:
    Hello I started working in the NICU right out of my program. My program offered six weeks at the end of the program to work anywhere in the city. I choose the hospital i work at now. If your program does not offer this several nurses I know started working in the nursery or PICU and asked if they could be cross trained in the NICU. We float to PICU often so several nurses float to the NICU to be cross trained. Take the certification, Neonatal Resuscitation. (NRP) Read as much as you can to become familiar with neonates. They teach nothing in nursing school. Talk to a nurse manager of a NICU at the hospitals you visit to see what they expect. There are ways to become a NICU nurse. I have tried to go back for my masters in nurse anesthesia, but the NICU keeps me coming back for more. I would not do anything else. The rewards are great. Good luck
    : I have been working in neonatal for most of my career as a RN. I highly recommend that area for those who are really interested. It is very rewarding. There are hospitals that have extensive orientation programs for new graduates to go directly into NICU. (ours is one). Talk to the hospitals who have NICUs and find out who has the most comprehensive program in the size unit you are interested in.
    Good luck! You will love it!!!

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    I went right into the NICU from nursing school. I never regret one minute of my experience as a NICU nurse. Unfortunately, I moved from the city where I worked in the NICU to a small town, and there is no NICU close. I do recommend an extensive knowledge base of the normal newborn, (more than what little bit you get in school), as it will only enhance your learning skills in the NICU. Good luck, as you are on your way to one of the most rewarding experiences a nurse can endure.
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    Originally posted by myles:
    I am a nursing student and am very much intrested neonatal care. It is the reason i decided to become a nurse. i do not mind working on a med/surg floor but i don't enjoy it. is it possible to begin working in the NICU or nursery right after graduating? If not what path should i take to eventually work in this feild?
    I would also appreciate input regarding feelings about working in NICU. THANK YOU!!!
    I have been in the NICU at the Univ of KY for almost 2 years. I received my Bacc. from Eastern KY Univ. There I did my senior practicum in a Level II NICU. Although my nursing school did not promote practicums in such a specialized area, I was able to convince my instructors that this was my true love. While doing my practicum I obtained certification in NRP. Upon graduation there were no job openings in the NICU. I worked on a medical floor for about 9 months. A that point a job came open at UK and I quickly applied. My unit manager interviewed me and she was very impressed with my desire to work in the NICU, especially since I was already NRP certified. I am currently enrolled in the neonatal nurse practitioning program at the Univ. of Louisville. I feel that if you pursue your desires to become a NICU nurse and make it known to employers, eventually you will reach your goal.
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    After volunteering with our hosp for 3 years, Neonatal nursing plagues my heart. I graduate in May 2006, but not sure what I should major in to gain that position. Should I go for RN BS or RN BSN or clinical nurse practitioner. I want to chose the field that seems most logical for the length of study and of course most ppl wont admit, but also hope to gain a sense of financial security. As money is not everything it makes life a lil nicer if you can make a decent living doing something that you love. So you all pitch in and help me make some decisions about what is the smartest route to take to make my dreams come true.
  11. 1
    Quote from jeubanks
    After volunteering with our hosp for 3 years, Neonatal nursing plagues my heart. I graduate in May 2006, but not sure what I should major in to gain that position. Should I go for RN BS or RN BSN or clinical nurse practitioner. I want to chose the field that seems most logical for the length of study and of course most ppl wont admit, but also hope to gain a sense of financial security. As money is not everything it makes life a lil nicer if you can make a decent living doing something that you love. So you all pitch in and help me make some decisions about what is the smartest route to take to make my dreams come true.
    RN BS and RN BSN are the same thing, I believe. You get your bachelor's in nursing, period. You can also get an associate's degree as well (ADN or ASN). Both then take the N-CLEX RN and only after passing that, do you become an RN. There is no specialization during school or the boards - a nurse is a nurse is a nurse, upon graduation. It's only after you start working that you specialize in one field or another. True, you can work as a nursing student in the NICU, or do an intensive clinical there during your senior year - and these things do help - but it's not necessary. You get all your training in the NICU after you start working as an RN.

    Now, to be an NNP (neonatal nurse practitioner), you have to work at least two years, full-time, in a NICU to qualify for the program. You can take other graduate level classes while working, so that by the time you get your two years of experience, all you have left are the intensive NICU clinical courses. HOWEVER...while many students seem to rush into becoming an NNP in the fastest time possible...it may not be wise. It's best to first become a good NICU nurse and then decide where to go from there.

    I've been full-time in a NICU for seven years. I don't even feel I'm at the point yet where I would be a good nurse practitioner. Neonatal is a very challenging field and it's very hard to become an expert in just a few short years. NNPs have a huge amount of responsibility, and not a lot of time at the bedside. These two reasons alone have convinced me that I never want to have that job, even though of course as a new grad I assumed I'd eventually go for it.

    Not saying don't become an NNP, just saying that it's best to get your BSN, take boards, and work in the NICU for at least a couple of years and then decide what you want to do.
    CylRN likes this.


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