Thinking about a future in NICU...I have some questions!

  1. Hey everyone,

    I am new here and I am in my very first semester of nursing school. Last year, a close friend had a baby in NICU (sadly, the baby passed away after about a week due to heart complications) and then the same friend just had another baby 2 weeks ago and this baby ended up in the same NICU on the same wing but this one, I am so happy to say is healthy and going home this week!! Anyways, last year, when visiting the NICU to see the first baby, I fell in love. Then last night, when I went back to visit the second baby I got to talk to a nurse who has 8 yrs. experience as a NICU nurse. She loves it and won't do anything else.

    So, I have questions now as I am sure this is the direction I will be going. I feel called to this area. This is the only kind of nursing I want to do.

    1. Is it hard to get a job as NICU nurse?
    2. What is starting salary for a newbie right out of school and what is the average salary for someone with yrs. experience in NICU (a girl from my school said 100,000 but that just seems to high for a nurse compared to other areas of nursing)?
    3. Can you get a job in NICU with only a 2 yr. degree and no experience or do you have to have your BSN and experience on another unit?
    4. What is the hardest thing about your job (besides the obvious of a baby passing away)?

    And thank you to NoCrumping...your post was very encouraging for someone thinking about going into this area of nursing!!
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   SteveNNP
    Well, here are my answers....


    1. Is it hard to get a job as NICU nurse?

    - Sometimes, depending on your area. Many times NICU jobs are hard to come by b/c a lot of nurses love their unit and stay for years...on the other hand, people move on, units expand, etc... and some units just can't get enough people to be fully staffed. Check out job listings in your area..


    2. What is starting salary for a newbie right out of school and what is the average salary for someone with yrs. experience in NICU (a girl from my school said 100,000 but that just seems to high for a nurse compared to other areas of nursing)?

    - 100k is pretty generous. Maybe with LOTS of overtime, PRN status and experience. NICU pays what the hospital pays. SOmetimes you can get a bonus, but like I said, supply often exceeds demand in NICU. The range is around 40-55k in my area, and with each year of experience you get a raise. Some experienced RN's that I work with who've been here for decades make $30-$35/hr. I started at $19/hr plus differentials. (night/weekend). I've gotten several raises and bonuses in the 2yr I've been out of school.

    3. Can you get a job in NICU with only a 2 yr. degree and no experience or do you have to have your BSN and experience on another unit?

    - You can get a job in NICU with an ADN and no job experience, bu it will depend on whether the unit can handle a new grad, and whether you're willing to commit to the steep learning curve.

    4. What is the hardest thing about your job (besides the obvious of a baby passing away)?

    --The accountability and seriousness of NICU... If you make an error, you could kill a baby. Simple. It's not nearly as serious as working with adults. You have to routinely resuscitate babies, give dangerous meds, assist with dangerous procedures. As long as you have good critical thinking skills,, and are very careful, you'll be ok.

    Hope this helps....We need more good NICU nurses!

    Stephen
  4. by   Sanforkl
    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks so much for your reply.

    I did a quick job search on using this website and saw only on NICU opening in New York! Yikes! Not very many positions available! But I can understand why. It seems like an excellent job that people don't want to give up.

    Thanks for the info!!

    Kendra
  5. by   MrBabyNurse
    1. Is it hard to get a job as NICU nurse?

    Depends on where you are. I am in central NC, started at a Level IIIc (they still call it a level IV here) as a new Associates degree grad 5 years ago. A RN I recently precepted moved here from Asheville, NC because the NICU there wouldn't hire an inexperienced RN. So I guess it really depends on where you want to work.

    2. What is starting salary for a newbie right out of school and what is the average salary for someone with yrs. experience in NICU (a girl from my school said 100,000 but that just seems to high for a nurse compared to other areas of nursing)?

    You will most likely be hired at the same rate as any new grad/Associates degree program RN. The pay is much higher in the North-East than it is down here. Your pay increases greatly with shift diffs and extra/overtime.

    3. Can you get a job in NICU with only a 2 yr. degree and no experience or do you have to have your BSN and experience on another unit?

    See answer to #1

    4. What is the hardest thing about your job (besides the obvious of a baby passing away)?

    Sometimes the death of a baby isn't the hardest thing...it's is occasionally the best thing. I write this as a barely 22-23 week baby just died in the adjacent suite to mine. His Hgb went from 10 to 4 in a matter of 2 hrs. Severe head bleed. Severe PIE, it was obviously VERY bad for the family, but probably the best thing for the baby. Hardest things for me...coming in here as a new grad, BIG learning curve, (personally, being the only male RN out of approx. 115 RN's isn't easy), Family issues are sometimes very difficult (Jerry Springer anyone?). I get very attached to my pts., particularly my primary babies and their families. I have learned a lot this past 5 years, love my job, and can't imagine doing anything else. I have captured the trust of my co-workers (somehow), am a preceptor and a charge nurse, so it can be done.

    Good luck and keep us updated

    Brian

    PS We nearly always have openings..people move, have babies, go PRN, retire, etc. We don't have a high turnover except for those reasons. Also, sometimes it helps to form relationships in the areas you want to be in while you are in nursing school, you will appreciate those relationships in the future.
  6. by   Sanforkl
    Hi Brian,

    I am also in NC and I was at CMC hospital the other day. The RN working in NICU also said that they will accept new grads if there is room. It is encouraging to know.

    I also see what you mean about the steep learning curve. According to the nurse I talked to in the NICU, she said you have to learn everything once you get in the NICU. School teaches you the basics of nursing but the NICU is a different world for the most part.

    Despite the learning curve, this job is the only one I can imagine myself doing. I am hopeful that if it is meant to be, it will be!

    Thanks for the info.!
  7. by   SteveNNP
    Good Luck! Just keep your eye on the prize....


    Hey Mr Babynurse! Great to see another guy who works in NICU. I'm the only guy working in the Women's & CHildren's Dept at my hospital, and with the 75 RNs in my unit.....

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