This is long and I apologize in advance but I need advice!
I just graduated in May and have an interview this Tues with NICU in a hospital I currently work in as a PCT in the float pool. This is a Nurse Residency program position, one of only two available in the NICU (I'm also interviewing in PICU). NICU has been my dream since I can remember (I've wanted to be a nurse my whole life; for years I was afraid I couldn't do it thus putting school off until my children were no longer real young-my youngest is almost 13). I have a love and passion for the teeny-tiny ones I can't describe (who am I kidding, I love all babies, newborn on up!). I want this job so much and I'm scared to death of not getting one of the positions! I need interviewing advice from you NICU nurses! I've read through so much about new grad jobs, interviewing, etc on here and taken a lot in but I would love to hear specifically from NICU nurses-what can I do to up my chances? I know that God is going to place me where He wants me, I do have an active prayer life and a very supportive family all routing and praying for me. I do also know the realities of how competitive these NR positions are-I want to stand out (as we all do during an interview!). Let me say a little about my experiences first so you can help me determine what I can use and how, during the interview.
-married with 4 children (do you ever include personal info for any reason during an interview?)
-I took care of my elderly father for the last few years of his life (gave and managed his meds, gave breathing treatments, did leg wound care, dressing changes, took him to umpteen Dr. appts and stayed by his side as his advocate through his many hospitalizations, etc...), all before I began nursing school. I buried my father less than 2- 1/2 weeks before I started nursing school (it was tough but my Dad told me many times I was the best "nurse" he ever had, he was proud of me and knew I would get through school-that kept me going too
(should I somehow integrate this into the interview? If so, how? While it doesn't count as nursing experience, does it count for anything they would care to know?
-high B student through all 4 semesters of nursing school (do grades really matter? We do have to bring a copy of our school transcript to the interview)
-I am a PCT at this hospital I'm interviewing in and have worked in Rehab, MSI (med/surg intermediate unit), CVICU (cardio-vascular ICU), neurovascular, oncology.
-I also have another current PCT position in another hospital in our area and worked mainly in MS (sometimes caring for 10-12 pts during my shift). At this hospital, we are allowed to start IV's and put in Foleys on our pts, after we were specifically trained of course.
-I've held both these positions for a little over a year but only worked very part time during my last semester because I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to getting through school
-I have a friend that works at the interviewing hospital that introduced me to both nurse managers in the NICU recently and they both know my passion for the NICU (hard for me to contain it!
-I was also given permission by one of them to shadow an awesome NICU nurse during her shift so I could see nursing for a day (awesome experience!)
-during OB rotations, I spent one clinical day in the NICU step-up unit, which is actually where I would start out in this position-loved it!)
-during my last semester I precepted 132 hours on the Mother/Baby floor in the interviewing hospital and loved that too! I loved taking care of the newborns and the families together-this hospital is all about family-centered care.
-during my preceptorship I did receive verbal and written praise from a mother that I cared for during her and her newborns entire stay. I helped her extensively with breastfeeding techniques and tips (helping the lactation consultant, who praised me and left me in charge a few times!)
-By the end of my preceptorship I was taking care of at least 4 pts (2 couplets), helping my preceptor with admits and discharges at the same time and managing my time well.
-two of my patients during this time had fetal demises and though I didn't handle the babies, I did use a lot of therapeutic communication with the moms. I did have to take one of the babies out of the room, though it was in a bassinet.
-I was asked to go get a baby from a mom's room, not knowing what I was walking into-a mom actually about to be d/c'd back to jail. While the cops were pretty rough with her verbally ("c'mon, hurry up and say goodbye), I gave her a few more moments to kiss her newborn through her sobs and tears
It tore me up, brought tears to my own eyes and I gave her a hug and told her we would take good care of her baby-she thanked me. I don't know what came over me, I guess just compassion for a woman that loves her baby, like every other woman does. Some of the other nurses weren't so nice about the situation (comments like, "oh well, she shouldn't have gotten herself in trouble, boo hoo hoo"). I of course kept my mouth shut but for me, it didn't matter at that moment what she did wrong-in my eyes she was still a mom that was hurting and sad.
-My preceptor did give me a letter of recommendation when my preceptorship was finished
-I have two very nice recommendation letters from two of my instructors (one of which I had clinical with).
I know this is way long and i thank you for reading this far but let me just say, while I've not been a nurse yet and haven't dealt with unruly or rude parents or those who just don't care about their babies, along with all the other negatives I've read, heard and seen in my years of school and many hospitalizations with my father, I am realistic. I know there will be days ahead I cry on my way home or in the bathroom, want to pull my hair out in frustration, etc...I do know as well that I was made to be a nurse, I love people, I love caring for babies and families and I will be passionate at what I do wherever I end up working as a nurse. It's my core, it's my being. I expect a transition phase into the real world of nursing and I'm ready for it.
This hospital uses mostly behavioral interview questions-yikes! I know to listen to the questions they ask, take my time before I answer them and not say too much (although this is wordy haha!). So, my questions are, how do I use any of this info in the interview? What kinds of questions have you been asked? What should I not say? What kinds of things should I be asking? How do I word my strengths and weaknesses appropriately? I am not a cocky person and dont want to come off that way at all. I would be humbled to get a position like this right out of school. I have oodles and oodles to learn and welcome it-I cant wait for it. Please feel free to give any and all advice necessary. TIA