Is it impossible?

  1. 0
    So I'm a nursing student (I know, I know, but hear me out) who wants to work in the NICU and eventually go on to become a Neo-natal nurse practitioner.

    My problem is that I hear that getting a job as a NICU nurse is extremely challenging. The grad school I intend to apply to requires ONE year of employment in the NICU. I don't think I will be able to get that one year experience at a decent time (like within three years).

    I was wondering are there other ways to enter the NICU? Can a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner work as a Neo-natal nurse practitioner? And do you have any tips as to how to get into the field? I currently work as a PCA for an Orthopedics floor and Med-Surg floor, but I plan to apply to a Children's hospital in May.
  2. 2,012 Visits
    Find Similar Topics
  3. 7 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    Pediatric and neonatal NPs are not interchangeable. The education is entirely different. It can be v. challenging for new grads to find jobs in specialty areas. However, some organizations/facilities are willing to hire new grads into specialty units. You can improve your chances by being willing to relocate in order to get a job in a specialty you really want (the more of the US you're willing to consider, the better your chances).

    Even if you aren't able to find an NICU job right away and have to spend a few years "working up" to that, in the long run, over your entire career, that will be just a tiny "blip on the radar" (although I realize it seems like a huge deal now). Plus, many of us think that it is a v. good idea to have at least a few years of clinical experience before pursuing grad school.

    However, keep in mind that many, many students (including me, back in the day) have had the experience of starting nursing school quite sure that they know exactly what specialty area they definitely want to pursue, only to find that, by the time they finish school or early in their careers, they are much more interested in something entirely different. Nursing is a v. "big tent," and there are lots of career paths and roles that people aren't even aware of until they've been in the nursing world for a while. I encourage you strongly to keep an open mind as you go through school.

    Best wishes for your journey!
    ThePrincessBride likes this.
  5. 1
    Recognize that that "one year of NICU" experience is the bare minimum and not likely to earn you admission into an NNP program, especially if that's your only nursing experience.
    elkpark likes this.
  6. 1
    Actually, it's entirely likely and happens frequently (I don't necessarily agree with it...); I know two co-workers who started school a year out of working in our NICU, although they still work here and go to school part-time. The schools with "one year experience" generally have the condition that they have to continue working in a NICU because the NCC requires at least 2 years experience to sit for the boards.

    We actually have hired two PNPs into our NICU, but they had extensive NICU nursing experience. Generally, a PNP is not suitable for NICU and you would be very hard-pressed to get a job doing that.

    The best way to get into the NICU is be willing to travel anywhere for the job. I moved across the country for mine and I've been a NICU RN for 4.5 years now. I'm in a NNP program right now and I really do feel it's only now that I have a good handle on NICU in order to go back to school.

    Why are you so eager to get into the program straightaway? Neonatology is so specialized that trying to learn it all as a new grad is completely overwhelming. During my internship, I studied almost every day and it was still so hard to grasp everything, not to mention working full-time with my preceptor and taking weekly classes. Even then, I didn't have nearly as good a grasp on the patho and physiology of why things are the way they are in infants until a couple of years later. You basically have to forget nearly everything you learned in nursing school, which applies to adults...
    elkpark likes this.
  7. 2
    Quote from babyRN.

    Why are you so eager to get into the program straightaway? Neonatology is so specialized that trying to learn it all as a new grad is completely overwhelming. During my internship, I studied almost every day and it was still so hard to grasp everything, not to mention working full-time with my preceptor and taking weekly classes. Even then, I didn't have nearly as good a grasp on the patho and physiology of why things are the way they are in infants until a couple of years later. You basically have to forget nearly everything you learned in nursing school, which applies to adults...
    Because I want to finish school before I have children, and I would like to be finish with my formal education by my late twenties. Is there something wrong with that?
    coast2coast and Mully like this.
  8. 0
    The girl knows what she wants to do! I like it.
  9. 0
    Quote from ThePrincessBride
    Because I want to finish school before I have children, and I would like to be finish with my formal education by my late twenties. Is there something wrong with that?
    Nope, not at all. I'm doing the same thing. I'm 27 years old, will finish my degree by the time I'm 28 years old and DH and I hope to have kids by the time I'm around 30 years old. But I'll have over 6 years of NICU experience by then (at a large level IIIC plus agency at various other hospitals).

    On the other hand, many people do have kids and go to school at the same time or go to school later in life. You have a great responsibility to your future patients; wouldn't you want other NPs to feel the same for anyone taking care of your kids? I'm really not trying to sound condescending at all, but as you said, you're a nursing student. You have no idea how extraordinarily different everything is for NICU. Even basic things like normal pulse oximetry values are different.

    It's great to be ambitious, as you clearly are. I cold-called several hospitals across the country asking if they would hire me 6 months before I graduated, got my NRP as a nursing student, and devoted countless hours to learning about babies. It has served me well. Read everything you can on this forum; there is a ton of information about trying to get a job and interview questions. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
  10. 0
    Quote from ThePrincessBride
    So I'm a nursing student (I know, I know, but hear me out) who wants to work in the NICU and eventually go on to become a Neo-natal nurse practitioner.

    My problem is that I hear that getting a job as a NICU nurse is extremely challenging. The grad school I intend to apply to requires ONE year of employment in the NICU. I don't think I will be able to get that one year experience at a decent time (like within three years).

    I was wondering are there other ways to enter the NICU? Can a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner work as a Neo-natal nurse practitioner? And do you have any tips as to how to get into the field? I currently work as a PCA for an Orthopedics floor and Med-Surg floor, but I plan to apply to a Children's hospital in May.
    Apply broadly. Don't be afraid to move if you need to so that you can achieve your dreams (you can always move back home after you get the experience that you need!). If you can, get a practicum experience in the NICU. I have several friends who got new grad jobs in the NICU during the height of the recession based on their senior practicum in NICU. One did not have her practicum in NICU, but had excellent recommendations and was hired anyway.

    I recently started working in the NICU. I had OB/GYN experience prior to my move. Several other nurses that I work with have background in med/surg, cardiac, and geriatric nursing. If you can sell your experiences well in an interview (and network), you can definitely snag a NICU position.

    A friend of mine has been working in the NICU for nearly 2 years, and is applying to graduate schools now to be an neonatal nurse practitioner in a full-time program. It is definitely doable if you set your mind to it.

    Good luck!


Top