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Advice! Final Preceptorship in NICU


Specializes in NICU in progress.


I'm in my last semester of my RN (27 months of BSN-PB madness almost done) and I have worked really hard to gain a placement in the NICU for my final preceptorship. I took the theory courses for the specialty at the same time as my RN courses via two different institutions and just was certified in neonatal resuscitation. I have been in an NICU before and observed what goes on and I have a good foundational knowledge in what to assess etc but a lot of this will be new to me going in and I haven't had a chance to be hands on in this area. I have ESN'd on an acute surgical floor which has helped me gain confidence and learn a ton. I have every intention of being honest about my skill level and experience but I'm looking for any NICU nurse tips from people who have had students before. Anything I need to know before going in that I might not expect? (I will make sure I know my signs/symptoms for the heavy hitter and common neonatal issues, labs, vital signs, common drugs, dosage calcs etc). As aforementioned I am a post baccalaureate RN student (so I have a BSC already) and am mature, motivated and keen to learn. Not to mention this is the area of nursing I feel a calling for and am so excited to be entering.

Tips? Advice?

Thank You!!!

Physical assessment should really be your first focus, especially what the normal is depending on gestational age. Even people who have experience in paeds/postpartum nursing might know babies but premature babies have their own set of norms and issues. Also focusing on feeding, since this will be something you are dealing with daily. Knowing signs of feeding intolerance, oral feeding considerations for premature infants and breastfeeding.

Your final preceptorship is what you make of it, always seek out opportunities while you are there and constantly seek to find out the 'why' (ie. why are these labs being ordered for this baby? how would an abnormal lab value change the management?). Take advantage of your interprofessional team members, ask an RT to explain ventilation settings to you or better yet see if you can spend a few hours shadowing them.