PICU vs NICU

  1. I am a Peds nurse with 5 years experience. I spent 1.5 years in PICU, however, I left the PICU to work in the Peds Ed at a local community hospital 10 min. from my home. I chose this change because I had more schedule flexibility, no commute, more money, and almost no weekends which allows me more time with my family(4 mos. old girl & 3 yr. old boy). Sounds perfect doesn't it? Well, the benefits are great but not the work environment.

    I am not using my critical care skills and feel them slipping away. There is a level III NICU in another hospital relatively close and after research Neonatal nursing I have contemplated trying that out.

    Does anyone have any experience working in both NICU and PICU to share?

    I really enjoyed the PICU and wish I stayed. There are very few PICU options where I live and they are all > 30 min commute depending on traffic. The NICU's are much closer and there are more employment options.Also, it seems as if NICU nurses truly love their jobs.

    What do you all think?
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 15, '16
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Jolie
    I love NICU nursing, and you will probably enjoy many aspects of it as well. But having come from a more comprehensive peds and PICU background, you may find it somewhat limited. The scope of patients you will encounter in the NICU is just a tiny fraction of what you are used to seeing in the 1 month - 18 year age range.
  4. by   PEDSVA
    Thanks for your reply Jolie. Despite the more limited scope of practice, do you still find being a NICU nurse challenging with room to grow ? Do you find it easier to become more proficient in certain skills? Most importantly do you smile when it's time to return to work ?
  5. by   cajrio
    I started out as a nicu rn, with a prn job in PICU., I know work f/t PICU and do prn in NICU. I enjoy picu becuase I learn about different medication, and diagnosis plus most patients are on some sort of drip (dop,vaso,epi, milr) so I become more proficient in managing these lines and drips. I enjoy the NICU because of more interaction with the family and I feel you can influence the outcome of the patient care ...positioning, feeding intervention, etc. I the NICU I have more opportunity to put in IV's and do arterial sticks, in the PICU most patient have a Arterial line placed for easy access. I am currently enrolled in a masters program for NNP but I will continue to work in the PICU as I feel it helps to give me better understanding of what happens to the NICU infants who have chronic diseases. So in answer to your question I love the NICU but work in the PICU to enhance my skills and knowledge base.
  6. by   SteveNNP
    I agree with cajrio for the most part.... I work FT NICU and PRN PICU. I also enjoy the added variety and age groups in PICU, but also love the complexity and interaction with families I get in NICU. We do primary nursing in NICU, where I have the same pt every time I work, which allows me to bond with the pt and his family, following him for several months down the bumpy road from admission to discharge. You do get very good at what you do in NICU, as you see the same set of diagnoses with a few rare ones thrown in. As a NICU RN I attend high risk deliveries and perform resuscitations, manage HFOV/conventional vents, drips, art lines, CVP, hyperal, manage my pt while in surgery, teach babies to feed, support parents, etc. I spent a few months in the ER last summer, and dreadfully missed my babies. I practically floated to work when I started back in NICU. You will have the inevitable shifts from hell when you question your reason for returning to work. But that's in every field, and for me the good days far outnumber the bad. I am also starting my NNP this fall, and will probably work in PICU or Peds Cardiac ICU while I study, bc there are no decent NICU jobs near the school I will be attending.
  7. by   PEDSVA
    Thanks you guys, you have really given me good info. It's so difficult for me to make another change, I just want to be settled in an area for me and my family but I want to enjoy what I'm doing. Maybe I'll see if I can shadow in the NICU for a few hours then make my decsion.
  8. by   climberrn
    This is late...
    I, personally found NICU boring and repetitive after working PICU. You will typically work the same scenarios over and over. That being said, you will get very, very good at those scenarios. I truly admire and envy the skills of the seasoned NICU nurse who can just look at a baby and know they are getting septic or NEC, despite all evidence to the contrary. I like the diversity of the PICU. Just me.

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