Need Advice on NICU Nursing....I will have my RN in December.

  1. I am a nursing student and I will be graduating in December. I am very interested in working with babies and maybe doing some work with older kids also. I am looking into different Childrens Hospitals in Florida because I know the best way to get in is to find a hospital to put you through training. I haven't been able to find too many that are just dedicated to children and I have a feeling that a regular hospital that has a childrens department but is not fully dedicated to children might not have a training program. Is there anything I can do to increase my chances of getting into a neonatal position? Is it best to start off in Med-Surg or would it be ok to go straight into children? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm really looking forward to getting started with my nursing career and making a difference.

    Thanks......
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   Jolie
    Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! And welcome to the wonderful world of maternal-child health!

    I don't know where you are located in FL, but there is no shortage of children's hospitals there. You may also want to consider that just about any large metropolitan teaching hospital or referral center will have a busy maternal-child nursing department, including general peds, peds specialty units, PICU and NICU.

    If you are certain that you are interested in NICU or peds, then I would recommend avoiding med/surg as a new grad. Much of what you would learn by caring for adults would have to be "un-learned" in order to care for kids. Better off to start out with your "target population". And despite what your nursing instructors and nurse recruiters may tell you, you can (and will) learn important aspects of nursing like time management, prioritization, critical thinking, etc. on any unit. Med/surg does not have a monopoly on these important skills.

    As you approach graduation, will your school hold a career fair? Watch the newspapers for advertisements from medical centers and hospitals. Many will offer events which include brunch, unit tours, and informal interviews which will give you the opportunity to "check out" a facility without having to schedule a formal interview. Ask your instructors for recommendations of facilities to consider. Ask the RNs on your clinical rotations where they would recommend you look for a job.

    Many hospitals will hire new grads into maternal-child health and provide lengthy orientation programs (about 12 weeks). It is my opinion that it is best to start in a larger hospital where you have a wide variety of patients, a large support staff of RNs, nurse educators, RTs, specialized pharmacists, residents, and attending physicians. Teaching hospitals are best, in my opinion.
  4. by   KBNUR2004
    Thanks for all your info. I am actually looking to relocate when I graduate to north florida. I've found the All Children's Hospital in St. Pete, Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Shands Children Hospital in Gainsville which is a teaching hospital I believe, and the Shriners Hospital in Tampa but they are not hiring. I also just found Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville but don't know much information about them yet.

    I have been researching these hospitals and looking around for different opportunites in that area. I am in Southwest Florida right now. Do you recommend applying to more than 1 and just see who will hire me?
  5. by   Jolie
    Definitely apply and interview at a number of facilities. You would not buy a new car after looking at only one model, and you should not take a job without checking out all the alternatives! An interview works both ways. The employer is evaluating you, and you are evaluating them. You may find that some facilities are not to your liking, even if they have positions available in your area of interest. You need to learn about all the aspects of working at any facility: What will your orientation be like? What is the nurse manager like? Do your potential co-workers seem friendly and helpful? What is the typical nurseatient ratio on the unit? Will you be required to float? What shifts are available? What is the potential for advancement to charge positions or transport positions? What kind of continuing education do they offer? What are the benefits like? Will you have to pay for uniforms or parking? Do you see yourself working there in 5 years? If not, why not?

    And the most important question for a new grad to ask at every interview: What is the ratio of experienced (2 years or more on that unit) to inexperienced RNs on the unit and on the shift you will be working? RUN, don't walk away from any unit or shift which has less than 50% experienced staff. You can not learn without an adequate staff of experienced nurses who are able and willing to teach and support you in the care of your patients.
  6. by   KBNUR2004
    Thanks. I will keep all those things in mind when I am looking for a place to work. I've been calling different childrens hospitals to see who takes new grads and who doesn't and it seems not have positions available that they hire a new grad with. Are there any other options if I can't find a childrens hospital in the area I'm looking in that will accept me, like extra classes or volunteering that might help me get into specializing with children?
  7. by   NICU_Nurse
    I just returned from a dizzying trip through Florida and a slew of interviews, and I can tell you for a fact that Arnold Palmer and Shands definitely hire new grads- both of them had hired so many new grads with the Spring graduation season that they had no jobs open for me! But that's good news for you! In fact, I believe it was Shands that said they'd hired something like 80 new grads for various departments in their hospital, including the NICU. Another thing you might like to consider is that Arnold Palmer is building a new hospital just for women and children right next door to what will become only a pediatric hospital when the new one is built. They're going to have something like the third largest NICU in the country when it's finished (already started building) and the recruiter told me that this is definitely a consideration when she's hiring- more infant beds means more nurses needed. Also, St. Pete had race riots a week before I visited, which to me was enough reason not to work there, but that's a personal decision for you. Just a heads-up, because no one mentioned that when I was visiting; I had to find it in the paper. And since I'm throwing out impressions, the nurse recruiter at All Children's was very rude on the phone and refused to meet me in person- she just wanted to leave a packet of info at the desk and had a horrible attitude, IMO. I had to beg to meet her, which I think is ridiculous. Shands' recruiter was spectacular, as was the one at Arnold Palmer. Wolfson's recruiter was also rude. I do take into consideration that they may have been having a bad day, but I feel that reflects poorly on the hospital. When your first impression of a place is their recruiter, you'd think they'd take enough time to be polite. Again, just my opinion. Good luck!
  8. by   KBNUR2004
    Thanks so much for all that information. That is very helpful and definitly encouraging because I was starting to think that a lot of them didn't hire new nurses. Its funny that you said All Children's was rude because they haven't been that way for me yet but I also haven't tryed to meet anybody in person yet, but that doesn't mean they won't be rude when I go up their. They don't let you apply but only 1 month ahead of when you graduate which wouldn't give me much time to make plans which I don't like. Wolfson's told me that the only once in a while hired new nurses right out of school so they didn't seem encouraging. I haven't been able to reach the nurse recruiter at Arnold Palmer yet and she hasn't called me back after I left a message. I will definitly go up and check them out in person though since they will be having that new hospital coming in. That sounds really exciting. I would really love to be able to get right into NICU. Shands has been very nice so they are definitly on the list. I guess now I can understand why their were not many job openings at those hospitals right now. Do you think since they just hired so many new nurses that they will be needing many more? Maybe by december they will need some?

    I've also been looking around for hospitals that have internships but I haven't found too many. It looks like the Florida Hospital in Orlando has some but won't hire new grads for NICU and only for peds, which I guess would be fine to start with if that was all I could get into at the time. I found something about internships at shands in Jacksonville. And their are great internships at Lee Memorial Hospital for new grads in the NICU but that is the area I live in now and I'm trying to get away from and they want you to sign a 2 year contract. Which Shands did you check out.....the one in Gainsville or Jacksonville?

    Thanks so much again. I'm going to keep getting all my information together and figure where I'm interested in going and then I'm going to make a road trip to each of them and check out the neighborhoods and the hospital. So do they have packets of information about the hospital that they can give you? If so I will definitly get as much information as I can and find the best opportunity. I do have until December which is kind of far away but kind of not when it comes to finding a good job.
  9. by   Jolie
    It looks like you are learning early on the pitfalls of dealing with nurse recruiters. Most do not bother with new grads until their final semester, and in some cases, until they have their Board results. Many will not acknowledge that their facility will consider new grads, because they prefer experienced RNs. Well, EVERYBODY prefers experienced RNs, but there are not enough to go around! In some cases you have no choice but to go thru the nurse recruiter, but if you are able to directly contact the nurse managers of the units which interest you, you will probably have better luck at getting accurate information about openings.
  10. by   KBNUR2004
    Thanks......How would I contact the Director of the Floor I'm interested in directly? Just call the main number and ask for the director of NICU?

    Most people I have talked to have been pretty nice but some people don't call me back. I guess I'll just have to bug them until they give in. I'll find something.....I'm pretty determined.
  11. by   Jolie
    Quote from KBNUR2004
    Thanks......How would I contact the Director of the Floor I'm interested in directly? Just call the main number and ask for the director of NICU?

    Most people I have talked to have been pretty nice but some people don't call me back. I guess I'll just have to bug them until they give in. I'll find something.....I'm pretty determined.

    If you know someone who could "introduce you", such as an instructor, that would be helpful. If not, then just do it on your own. I would suggest starting with a letter. Follow up a week or two later with a phone call. Ask if it would be possible to schedule an "information-gathering" interview or shadow a nurse for a few hours. Then ask about the application process. Once the nurse manager has met you, and decides whether he/she has an interest in you, it may be possible to bypass the nurse recruiter altogether, which is the best-case scenario.

    My hubby gets transferred a lot, and I've had 5 jobs in 5 different states. Only once was I hired thru the nurse recruiter. Most of the time, including my first job (in a NICU) as a new grad, I made connections thru people I knew, or people I sought out myself.
  12. by   KBNUR2004
    Would I just send my letter to the hospitals main address and put Attention NICU Director or something like that? How do you find out the address and phone number of the Director of NICU?

    Thanks so much for your help!
  13. by   NICU_Nurse
    I'm sorry- I meant the Shands in Gainesville. They were fantastic, really. Yes, I'm sure that there will be openings later. Remember though, too, that Shands in Gain. is associated with a nursing school (U of Fl)- at graduation time, many of them tend to apply there. So, keep your foot in the door by keeping in touch with the recruiter if you can.

    I know that many (not all, but a lot) hospitals have "relocation packages" that they'll send to you (I've got a mountain of them). Both Shands and Arnold Palmer sent me large packets including info on patient ratios (at Shands), salary bases, differentials, unit descriptions, and benefits information. When I called, I just told them that I was moving to the area and asked if they could send me whatever they had- *including* the benefits and salary starting ranges, if that was available. Some hospitals will discuss salary with you, others are wierd about it, but to me, that's a huge consideration (I mean, if we can't afford to eat or clothe ourselves, maybe we shouldn't work there!). Shands and APH were great. The recruiter I spoke to at APH was named Jennifer Goldstein, and she could be hard to get in touch with, but she always returned my calls and was supersuper friendly. Maybe if you ask for her by name they'll get you to her personal voice mail. I'd give you what I had, but I threw it away once we ruled out the Orlando area.

    As far as volunteering, definitely check into your area right away and see if there is a pediatric or NICU that you could volunteer at- once or more a week. Some NICUs let people volunteer as a cuddler for the babies, and this would get you on the unit and look great on your resume, as well as help you start learning about babies. Just call around and ask for the Volunteer Services coordinator. Any experience, whether pediatric (can you read stories to the kids? Play with them? etc.) or nursery (cuddling, etc.) is better than none, and it shows that you're serious about wanting to work in that area. If you don't have anything available like that, check your area for programs that cater to moms/babies (i.e., classes, clinics, etc.) for volunteer opportunities. Good luck!
  14. by   NICU_Nurse
    Oh, also, you might want to check about getting your NRP certification if you can. Having it already looks nice when you apply, and again, shows that you're serious.

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