many questions for NICU nurses

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    I received a lot of valuable information the last time I posted something...thanks! However, I have some more questions. I would be soo grateful if anyone could help me out. Like I said last time, I'm doing a research paper on neonatal nursing, but as high school is almost over, I am doing a lot of decision-making and planning for the future. I am looking into getting my CNA during the spring semester in order to gain some valuable experience and learning before I actually begin my major. Many people have told me that that was the best thing to do so that I can be totally sure that that is what I want to major in. Do you agree? Also, I've been thinking about getting my master's after my BSN. I know that having a master's can be advantageous, but exactly how would my job differ from just being a RN or having a BSN? I know a little about neonatal nursing, but not a whole lot, so I'm sure that some of the questions I have may seem a little crazy or dumb. What does being a neonatal nurse include as far as duties go...are there any special courses that should be taken beforehand? Sorry this is so long....I just started thinking and all these questions popped into my mind. I'd be glad to hear any information that anyone has. Thanks!!

    -Amanda
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    I think becoming a CNA could be great experience for you. It would benefit you if you decide to go to nursing school in that you would already be comfortable helping patients bathe/dress/eat/etc. which is quite difficult for some people. We take for granted being able to do things for ourselves that our patients often can't do. It also would help you learn about the hospital environment in general and how it operates.

    As for nursing, though, you probably won't be exposed to many different settings as a CNA. Many areas don't utilize CNAs, such as neonatal ICUs, and nursing is very different in that type of setting than a med-surg floor for example. If you wanted to get a more broad idea of the nursing profession, you could always see if you might be able to go and observe or volunteer in a NICU for example.

    Just don't base your sole decision on whether or not to become a nurse on the experience you may have in one setting without exploring some others. Nursing is a great profession in that it offers so many different work environments and responsibilities. It's just choosing the right one that's the hard part!! Good luck!
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    Thanks...I'm learning so much from reading everything on this site.
    I'm still undecisive about exactly which area I want to be involved in, but I know I want to work with babies, whether it be neonatology or OB or pediatric. I really hope I can get my CNA, I've been trying to find out if the local community college offers the CNA program as a dual enrollment. That way, I can go ahead and get it before I start college, and it's free since I'm still in high school. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for your help. And if you have any more comments, I'd love to hear them.

    -Amanda
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    Hi Amanda,

    Our well-baby nursery uses CNAs, so that’s where nursing students who want to go into NICU try to work. Some also are unit secretaries. Since med/surg is so different from NICU, working as a CNA there might not help much.

    The more education you have, the better – it opens more doors, but you may want to work as a BSN before you go on for your Masters. Now days, a Masters is required for most research and management positions and certainly for Nurse Educators. There isn’t much if any difference in day-to-day bedside NICU nursing between those with ADN degrees or those with BSNs or Masters, but with an advanced degree, you aren’t “stuck” at the bedside.

    What does being a neonatal nurse include as far as duties go? That is a very big question and it depends on the unit. There are wide variations in the types of babies that different hospitals have, what the duties of others are (like Residents, or RTs) so what the nurses do varies.

    Assessment is a big part of what we do. Babies can’t tell us that their tummy hurts, their IV site is leaking or swelling, they’re having a little trouble breathing, etc. so it is up to us to do a thorough assessment and monitor them for any problems.

    There are a lot of tasks that we do and every task has an assessment component: a diaper change isn’t just a change of pants for the baby,; it is an opportunity to check the tummy, monitor output and observe the stool for signs of problems like feeding intolerance ore NEC. If the baby has an umbilical line, we check for circulatory compromise. Other tasks we do: start and maintain IVs, give medications, feed babies either with a tube into their stomach or with a bottle, and at my hospital we do a lot of breastfeeding teaching. Draw labwork. Suction ETT tubes and little noses. The list could go on and on.

    Evaluation of all of the info we collect during assessments, data from the monitor, labwork and everything else we do, see, feel, smell. All of this has to be tucked into our brains and pulled together to assist us in decision making.

    Teaching parents how to care for their babies is a big part of what we do to, as is explaining tests and procedures.

    These are just some very general categories of things we do. Do a search for threads. Here are a few:

    http://allnurses.com/forums/showthre...threadid=24774

    http://allnurses.com/forums/showthre...threadid=14290


    http://allnurses.com/forums/showthre...threadid=17492

    http://allnurses.com/forums/showthre...threadid=23244

    Read “Baby E.R.: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles” by Edward Humes to see what goes on in a large NICU.
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    Thank you sooo much!! All of that info has helped me a lot...for my research paper as well as for helping me make decisions concerning my future career plans. Thanks again

    -Amanda


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