Advice on how to end up in the NICU

Nurses General Nursing


I am a working CNA in a LTAC Hospital, applying to the local nursing programs next fall. I am also applying to my local county hospitals internship, where you can work hands on in all departments.

MY QUESTION IS, how does one get into the NICU? I know it is a speciality, but what is the best path for a CNA, Nursing major, to go if they want to end up in the NICU some day.

Specializes in hospice, LTC, public health, occupational health.

1) be born too early

Aunt Slappy beat me to it.

But if you're not extremely unlucky to be born early, you will have to be very lucky as a new nurse.. it's a coveted specialty. Does your nursing school offer a capstone you could do in a nicu? Otherwise, if your school has no connections, maybe you could volunteer and network that way. I've heard of volunteer baby holders. That would be an in. Otherwise, one of my coworkers worked on medsurg for a while... excellent nurse... and internally transferred to the nicu.

Thank you! I accepted not to get hired into the

NICU right out of the nursing program, just wanted to know if there was like a route nurses go.

Volunteer baby holder is an option I can go, thankfully!

Thanks for some real advise.

Sorry but you're going to have to stand in line for that specialty. My class seemed to want the same things. The half that didn't want to be an NP or CRNA wanted NICU or L&D.

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant.

I know of a nurse who worked medsurg after school. Became a charge nurse, was on the professional practice committee, moved to a children's hospital (PACU) I believe. Then got a job in the NICU. In other words, do well in school, give it your very best for whatever position you have, work hard, and make a good name for yourself. Believe me, your reputation can very likely play a role--make sure you build a good one!

As a sidebar, she did not like NICU nursing all all, and transferred to another unit after about a year. I'm not saying this to make anyone feel bad, but just keep you options open, and don't fall into the trap of thinking this is your dream job, and you will only be happy if you make it to the NICU.

Specializes in NICU.

If your plans are to stay local and work at the county hospital, you will have a tougher time getting into the NICU. Smaller hospitals will most likely have a small Level II NICU. They will have a smaller staff and low turnover. You would have a better chance at a NICU job by applying for NICU jobs at a children's hospital. If you can't get a NICU job at the children's hospital, then get another job at the children's hospital. It will be far easier to transfer into the NICU as a transfer from another unit.

Where I work, several of my coworkers applied for and got into the NICU program. These were all solid med-surg/tele RNs with a few years of experience. I don't recall any specific pre-training or relevant experiences but I am sure that would not hurt.

Thanks for the advice!!

Is it true that for the first year in NICU all you do is feeding?

Specializes in NICU.
Is it true that for the first year in NICU all you do is feeding?

As a NICU RN, there is certainly much more you do for your patients in the first year than feeding. That being said, you generally start off with more stable patients and work your way to increasingly more complex patients.

Specializes in NICU.
Is it true that for the first year in NICU all you do is feeding?

My first day off orientation was a post-op vent patient. I did a lot more than feed babies in my first year.

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