I am a nursing student who is about to graduate. The hospital I want to work at offers a residency program through my school for new nurses. I am very interested in NICU nursing, but I am wondering if it would be better to start with well baby/ L&D first to get some experience first?
I am hoping some of you with more experience would be able to help me decide.
I would also appreciate any other advice about NICU nursing!
I went into NICU as a new grad. It may be difficult getting into NICU as a new grad in some areas. I had a 135 hr NICU preceptorship in the final semester before graduation which helped solidify my decision to go into NICU and helped obtain my job.
You will probably get advice arguing both options. But here's my 2 cents.
NICU residencies tend one the most comprehensive orientations out there, so you should get a good orientation period as well as classes, ect. These residencies however are of course only open to new grads. So if you go get other experience and then you want to come to NICU there's really no guarantees on how long or comprehensive your orientation will be. You could potentially only get a few weeks and then the rest of your learning will be on the job.
I suppose any nursing experience is valuable when starting in NICU, like even if you have adult experience there are some stuff that transfers but it's just such a unique area and a lot of NICUs like to "mold" their new grads to do it there way and not already have any bad habits.
Even though they are related areas, as in you deal with babies I don't think labour and delivery experience is going to give you much of a leg up in NICU. In L&D you are mainly caring for the mom not the baby, babies get whisked to postpartum pretty quickly if mom and baby are stable. And if baby is sick NICU will take them right away. Sure you'll learn NRP, give vit K and do newborn assessment but I'm of the opinion you might as well start where you want to be if it's possible.
If you can't get a NICU job, I'd say postpartum or peads are more transferable.
I also went into NICU nursing straight from graduation. I ended up working for a hospital that didn't have a new grad residency program so my orientation was about 3 months long along with a week of classes. I'm still learning on the job every night when I go in. I think if you have the opportunity to learn in a new grad residency environment, you should definitely go for it! Especially if NICU is the unit you most desire to be in. It is a very specialized area. Coworkers that I've talked with who obtained other experience before coming to NICU felt as if they were not able to transfer a lot of what they learned at their old jobs to the NICU. Best of luck to you!
If you are asking whether or not you need L & D or well baby experience to become a competent NICU nurse, I do not think you do. I went into NICU straight out of school, and I have never looked back or regretted my choice in any way. My nurse manager actually told me during my interview that she prefers to hire new grads because their behaviors as a caregiver aren't developed quite yet (I.E. no bad habits to break), but all managers are different. I work in a very large level IV at a teaching hospital. I received a 16 week orientation (part classroom and shifts on the floor) and I felt it was sufficient to care for our critically ill patients as a new grad. It is a difficult job and it will challenge you mentally and emotionally on a daily basis, but this goes for all of nursing. You MUST have the passion for it though, and if you do, go for it! My advice to you is to pursue your dreams, and don't get discouraged. The right opportunity will come.
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