Neonatal nursing

  1. 0
    Hi,

    I want to become a nurse and really want to work with babies. I was wondering if any of you work with the babies (is it called neonatal nursing even if ur not working with ill children?), and what you do? What is your job like?

    What do i need to do to become a neonatal nurse? Is there additional schooling beyond the bachelors degree, or is just the bachelors degree required?

    Thank You!

    Oh, and any other information about neonatal nursing is surely welcomed on this thread! i know i may have forgotten some things...so please feel free to give me more information! I would really appreciate it!
  2. 11 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    I would advise you to do a search on neonatal nursing, neonatal intensive care, and neonatology. I came across neonatal nursing when I was pregnant. I wanted to know everything that was going on with what was growing inside of me. I was going to school for nursing at the time, but hadn't decided on a specialty until I came across neonatal care. After doing much research on neonatal care, I was addicted. Every paper or project that was needed for classes I did on neonatal care some way or another.
    There are some sites that you can go to for more information such as NANN and AWHONN, but my suggestion is to do a search. There is a lot of information out there that can tell you everything you want to know about neonatal care. You can also check with your library or school library for books on neonatal care.
    As for the nursing part of it, some hospitals will let you do sort of a job shadow kind of thing. If there is a hospital near you that has a NICU, you may want to check with that hospital or the nurse manager of the NICU in that hospital, if you can do a job shadow. This would be the best way for you to know if this is the specialty you want to pursue. What better than to see and experience what NICU nurses do.
    As for education, basic nursing education is all that is needed. Most prefer a BSN over an ADN, but some accept ADN too. If you decide that this is what you really want to do, then you have to be aggressive in pursuing it. Make it known through your cover letter and resume that NICU nursing is what you want. During nursing school, try to get a summer internship/externship in NICU. Start applying for positions and new grad programs early in your senior year of nursing school.
    If after doing all of the above and you know deep down in your heart that you want a career in NICU, never give up on your dream of becoming it, even if it means moving to where there is a need in neonatal care.
    smocky123 likes this.
  4. 0
    Neonatal nursing.. usually refers to the NICU and it's the sick babies. If you want the newborns that are going home soon after delivery, it's usually referred to as newborn nursing..I think? Or low risk nursery. At my hospital, we usually get 2-3 babies with anything ranging from ECMO, HFOV, regular vents, tube feeding, colostomies, surgeries in and out of the unit. As the bedside nurse you do total care. You also help with those learning to nipple feeds and do a lot of teaching to the parents as the majority of NICU grads will be at higher risk for complications after discharge (and we've had a few of them die at home soon after discharge..) so that is very important.
  5. 0
    You take care of babies in several specialty areas. One is, of course, the NICU or neonatal intensive care unit. Working there you would care for babies who have intense medical/surgical needs. Some are micropreemies who were delivered months before they were due and are vulnerable to all kinds of complications like brain, lung and bowel problems. Others have birth defects or other conditions that require close monitoring and various kinds of machines to keep them alive. Then there are the kiddos who are early but really only need a chance to develop well enough to breathe and eat on their own and to put on some weight. The ones in the last group are called the "feeders and growers."

    You could also work a well-baby nursery or do postpartum care which includes the moms along with the babies. This is what I do, and I find it extremely rewarding. Lots of teaching. Lots of caring for the wee ones.

    A well-baby nursery would allow you to focus solely on the little ones, but many hospitals use an LDRP approach where the moms labor, deliver, recover and have their postpartum stay all in the same room. The ones that I am aware of expect you to be proficient in more than one area, such as postpartum and well baby or labor & delivery and postpartum. The rare hospitals that have a specific baby nursery staff rather than postpartum or LDRP are usually quite large and often have a low turnover rate because people really like their jobs.

    Finally, there is the PICU--the pediatric intensive care unit. After a newborn leaves the hospital, they generally do not go back to the NICU if they have problems. They would go to the PICU. Unfortunately, PICUs usually expect you to be able to deal with all ages, not just babies.

    You might want to look into doing some job shadowing before you open or close any doors. I thought I wanted to do labor and delivery and was actually a little disappointed that I ended up in postpartum. But that was years ago, and now I have no desire to change units. I really like working with moms and babies and other family members over a couple of days. There is more time to teach and converse and assist with breastfeeding, and the families really appreciate the help.

    Good luck to you as you look for the path you want to take.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Dec 7, '09
  6. 0
    thanks everyone for the wonderful comments and information...after reading that and discussing it with my cousin who is a nurse....i think i would really like to take care of newborn babies and their mothers too...thats seems to really appeal to me for some reason...

    so if any of you work in..postpartum...i think thats what its called...how do you like it there?
  7. 0
    Quote from HopefulNurse90
    thanks everyone for the wonderful comments and information...after reading that and discussing it with my cousin who is a nurse....i think i would really like to take care of newborn babies and their mothers too...thats seems to really appeal to me for some reason...

    so if any of you work in..postpartum...i think thats what its called...how do you like it there?
    Feel free to come check us out in the Ob/Gyn Nursing forum. :spin:
    I for one really enjoy my job. I do a little wellbaby and a little sickbaby on the side but mother/baby is fun too!
  8. 0
    Hello!

    I started working in the NICU as a new grad and was there for over 2 years. I loved it, and I couldn't imagine ever working with adults or doing anything else. I thought I had found my calling in life. That was until I moved to a new town and finding a NICU job was difficult. It forced me to consider postpartum nursing, which I do now, and have been doing for the past year. I thought I would HATE it. However, it turns out I have begun to love it more than NICU nursing and if I had the chance to go back I don't think I would.

    A huge difference for me at first was going from taking care of (at the most) 3 babies in the NICU, to taking care of up to 4 moms and 4 babies (aka-4 couplets) all at once in Postpartum. It definitely seems more challenging to have to be responsible for (and chart on) up to 8 patients at a time oppose to only 3. However, caring for less patients in the NICU can turn out to be even more work than more in postpartum because the NICU babies are sick and require a lot more intensive and acute care. In postpartum, you usually are not taking care of anyone who is sick, mom's are just recovering (there are definitely exceptions to that where moms have postpartum hemorrhage, etc. But, it is more rare). If a baby begins to get sick, they usually leave your care and get a ticket to the NICU. It is very rewarding to be that person who notices if the baby is not doing well or is getting sick and gets them to the proper treatment they need.

    In postpartum there is a lot of patient teaching regarding self care and baby care, but you also have to do a lot of teaching in the NICU. Mom's usually need a lot of help breastfeeding, which not all postpartum nurses enjoy helping with (it can be a very time consuming and frustrating experience), however, most L&D units now have lactation consultants to do that job for you. They are life savers!

    In a nutshell, I love working as a postpartum nurse and I would recommend it to anyone! It's amazing to work with fat, healthy babies in the happiest place to work in the hospital!

    PS-Like most hospitals, there is a typical preference for bachelor degree nurses, but we definitely hire associate degree nurses without any problem. I think that goes for all L&D and postpartum units.

    Good Luck!
  9. 0
    Thanks lpjohnson!!

    that was a really great answer and gave me great insight! I think i might like postpartum nursing more because it just seems fun to work with the mother and babies and help teach the mother..i dont think i would be able to see sick babies in that state..but it would be wonderful to be able to help them!

    Thank you again!
  10. 0
    Quote from HopefulNurse90
    Thanks lpjohnson!!

    that was a really great answer and gave me great insight! I think i might like postpartum nursing more because it just seems fun to work with the mother and babies and help teach the mother..i dont think i would be able to see sick babies in that state..but it would be wonderful to be able to help them!

    Thank you again!
    From this it sounds like postpartum would be more your thing. I've seen MANY new grads come to NICU and orient then leave because they can't handle seeing sick babies all the time. I don't know if I'm just emotionally void or something but I am here for the ICU aspect and definitely not to cuddle and coo over babies.
  11. 0
    Hi,

    I've been a NICU nurse for over 20 yrs. I thought I would like pediatric nursing when I began school, b/c I love kids, but the minute I walked into the NICU I was hooked! I've never looked back. Although I've had to work in different fields for a few months while I switched cities. I love my job! It's really neat to be able to say that. (I've worked 12 hour night shifts all this time, too!)

    Good Luck in finding your place in nursing!

    Kathy


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