Question for NICU nurses...sorry it's long

  1. [FONT=comic sans ms]Hi. I'm a SAHM of two young children, and considering going back to work. I got my license in 2000, but have not worked as a nurse at all. Lately, I have been considering my options, as I never cared for med-surg during nursing school. I enjoyed the care, but not the pt/nurse ratios, and the fact that no one seems to appreciate, or value you.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]I did a brief NICU rotation that I absolutely loved! I was so fascinated with those tiny babies, and with all that equipment keeping them alive. I loved that fact that it was a low-lit, peaceful environment, and the staff seemed peaceful, too. I felt like I was leaving a little haven when I left the NICU department and entered the bright lights of the hospital.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]I have been reading through the thread about why you all love being in the NICU, and all the lovely words kept bringing me to tears. I actually had a nursing instructor whose specialty was the NICU, and I asked him about going into that department. He told me is is really intense, and really rewarding. He suggested I go for it, but it was the "intense" part that really scared me.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]I'll tell you, I never did it, because I let my fears stop me. I am so fearful of the new nursing phase, when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. I'm beyond scared that I will unintentionally do something wrong that hurts a patient. In school I was the slow nursing student who triple checked everything, bugged other nurses "just to be sure" (I'm sure they loved me)! and I was the one calling the nurse I worked with after I got home, just to make sure I didn't forget to do something. They probably thought I was nuts! LOL!

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Anyway, my point in all this is that I was even more scared, because these were someone's babies. I thought, how can I live with myself if I accidentally do something wrong? So, I never went into this specialty. I really need to work somewhere where my hand is being held, until I feel more comfortable. I always like to know someone is near by just in case I need help.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]My question to all of you is, how do you push past the fear when you first start in the NICU? What did/do you do to continue on despite any fears you may have? How do you trust yourselves to know you are going to do the right thing when it comes to these delicate babies? All things I wonder and worry about.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Thanks for your help, and for reading this. I know it's long.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Kim
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   danissa
    kim, it all starts to come together the more experience you gain.You find yourself looking back to where you were the year before, and think OMG how did I manage. Always look for support and help from your more experienced co-workers, I still do this now, they may find something that I'm missing, DON'T BE TOO PROUD TO ASK!! If your baby is safely cared for, no-one will look down on you for seking advice. Overconfidence with minimal knowledge is the worst thing of all, you won't be in this place, I see that from your post! Take care babe, and good luck, remember, you can always vent or question on this site, it has helped me numerous times!
  4. by   RN mom of 2
    [FONT=comic sans ms]Hi danissa!
    [FONT=comic sans ms]
    [FONT=comic sans ms]Thanks for your reply. All of my friends who are nurses say the same thing. It just seems scarier when you are taking care of such tiny, sick babies. It's true, I definitely get more confident with time and experience, but never overly confident. I appreciate the words of encouragement, and this does seem like a great place to come for advice.
  5. by   walkingrock
    You might find it helpful to start in postpartum and get some well-baby experience, then transfer to NICU.
  6. by   RainDreamer
    Hi Kim,

    Those fears are totally normal. I honestly don't know how I moved past the fears and made myself get through it. It was something I wanted, so I think that's what kept me going. And just going in with the knowledge that yes it will be hard, yes you will cry, yes you will be frustrated, yes you will want to quit ..... that gives you a leg up because you can prepare yourself.

    So many times I felt like I wanted to quit and I kept asking myself WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?! But it gets easier, it really does. And so many people would tell me that. But you know what? It really does, they were right. The thing that kept me going was this: I KNEW it would get better. I knew it was like any other job .... like the jobs I had in high school that were really hard at first, but once I had been there a while and felt comfortable it got so much better. And it's the same thing with nursing, just on a bigger scale. I KNEW if I could just make it through the first week .... then the first month .... then the first 3 months, then the first 6 months, the first year, etc....... then it would be better. I've been in the NICU for 8 months now and of course I'm still scared each time I go in .... but I'm not nearly as scared as I first was. I'm not throwing up before each shift like I did that first week. I'm not crying before each shift like I did the first few months. It's ok now .... and I know each shift will be ok.

    You will not harm the babies. I can guarantee you of that ..... and how can I be so sure? Because you are scared of doing so! If you weren't scared and weren't asking questions .... that's when you start making mistakes. The new nurses that go in there with the know-it-all attitude and are overly-confident are the ones that make mistakes. And you know another reason why I'm so sure that you won't hurt a baby? Is because the NICU nurses that will be training you and there to help you will be watching you and making sure you're ok. NICU nurses are VERY, and I mean EXTREMELY protective of those babies. They will not let anything happen to them.

    Get a good preceptor ..... make sure you get into a good program that offers at least 12 weeks orientation, including didactics.

    You'll do great!!
    Last edit by RainDreamer on Nov 28, '06
  7. by   Jolie
    [QUOTE

    [FONT=comic sans ms]I'll tell you, I never did it, because I let my fears stop me. I am so fearful of the new nursing phase, when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. I'm beyond scared that I will unintentionally do something wrong that hurts a patient. In school I was the slow nursing student who triple checked everything, bugged other nurses "just to be sure" (I'm sure they loved me)! and I was the one calling the nurse I worked with after I got home, just to make sure I didn't forget to do something. They probably thought I was nuts! LOL!

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Anyway, my point in all this is that I was even more scared, because these were someone's babies. I thought, how can I live with myself if I accidentally do something wrong? So, I never went into this specialty. I really need to work somewhere where my hand is being held, until I feel more comfortable. I always like to know someone is near by just in case I need help.


    [FONT=comic sans ms]Thanks for your help, and for reading this. I know it's long.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Kim[/QUOTE]

    In your post, you described the ideal characteristics of a NICU nurse. I'll sum it up in less eloquent terms: anal retentive. No where are these characteristics more desirable than in the NICU. As long as you are doing your very best to care for your precious patients, no one will ever fault you for seeking guidance, advice, or a second opinion. We were all painfully slow at one time, and very few of us ever forget that.

    Your proudest moment will come when someone seeks YOU out for an opinion, demonstrating that they see you as a mentor and experienced nurse.

    I think you will present yourself well in an interview if you can communicate these traits and your desire to care for infants (and their families) all the way thru the spectrum from critically ill upon admision, to recovery, to discharge planning and teaching.

    Your biggest challenge will be to get your foot in the door, given your absence from nursing. Consider finding some relevant seminars, seek out opportunities to volunteer in the hospital setting (as a cuddler in the NICU), or in the community with March of Dimes, Easter Seals, Head Start, etc. Contact some local hospitals and see if they offer an NRP course for non-employees.

    While I don't generally think this is necessary for new grads, I would second the suggestion that you consider a mother-baby position as a means of getting re-started in nursing. Some employers are more willing to "take a chance" on a new hire in an area where orientation is shorter and less costly.

    Good luck!
  8. by   RN mom of 2
    [FONT=comic sans ms]Thanks for all the great advice.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Anal retentive (LOL) just about sums it up! The more I think about it, the more I want to be NICU nurse. I'm still scared, but your words have given me a lot of encouragement. I did my preceptorship in post partum, so I have some experience with well babies. I'm going to contact my former instructor and see what he can suggest as far as a good place to work. There are many teaching hospitals in my area, so this may be a good place to start. Ever since I started thinking about the NICU I have been feeling really good; positive and hopeful about my future career path. I hope this is a sign that I'm headed in the right direction. I'm going to take my time, do some research, and God willing everything will fall into place.

    [FONT=comic sans ms]Thanks again!

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