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Advice neeeded - Taking the easy vs. the uncertain way to be a NICU nurse

First Year   (413 Views 8 Comments)
by nicunurse4 nicunurse4 (New Member) New Member

114 Visitors; 9 Posts

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Hi everyone, I need major advice. I am graduating in May of this year with my BSN and all I want to do is be a NICU nurse. I currently work in a NICU now as a nurse assistant which I love, but it’s in the same Midwest town that I grew up in and I want to move out of state. I’ve been applying to competitive new grad programs on the west coast to hopefully start in the NICU but I realize my chances are slim since there are so many applicants. I won’t hear back from these new grad programs for at least another couple of weeks and even then, I won’t get a final decision until at least May if I do get an offer. If I talked to my nurse manager on my NICU unit now, I know I would be a hired in as a new grad nurse, but I’m worried I’ll lose this opportunity if I wait until the last minute. Basically, is it worth it to try to apply to competitive new grad programs when I am already working in a NICU even though it’s not in my ideal location? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

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Lulu Belle has 1 years experience.

5,478 Visitors; 210 Posts

Moving to a new city is HARD. Like, really hard. Car trouble on your way to work? Lock yourself out of your apartment at 2 am? Get sick? You're entirely on your own to figure it out. Never mind the loneliness of being somewhere you don't know anyone. 

On top of that, imagine having to work every day in a job you dislike because it was all you could get in a tough job market. Not to mention the financial strain of covering costs of living if you can't find a job (especially in CA where it can take 6+ months to even get a license)

That's my 2 cents. Your post resonates with me because I had to make a similar choice. I ultimately chose to relocate, but only because I wound up getting some interviews and I have several other factors at play other than just wanting to move away from home. 

ETA: If I were in your shoes, I would take the NICU job. 

Edited by Lulu Belle

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301 Visitors; 55 Posts

I would TOTALLY take the hometown NICU job and get that first year under your belt.   Once you get experience you can become a traveling nurse, specialty units are always in demand.   Then you can look for an assignment in the area in which you want to relocate.  IF you like the area and hospital you chose, you can sign on permanently.  If not,  you can travel around until you find the place that suits you best.  

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

5 Followers; 57,670 Visitors; 12,992 Posts

I strongly recommend the home town NICU.   Once you get a year or two of experience, you'll be in good shape to move anywhere you want.    Make that transition from student to professional where you have friends, family, know the unit, etc.   Then move once you have experience.

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114 Visitors; 9 Posts

Thank you everyone I appreciate the advice!!

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TriciaJ has 37 years experience as a RN and works as a Retired.

6 Followers; 31,717 Visitors; 3,011 Posts

I agree with the others.  Take the sure thing and work your way to the other things you want.  Being a new grad in a new town is a lot.  Moving once you feel competent will be a lot easier.  You'll be in a better position to pick and choose the town and the job for you, rather than just going wherever you get hired.

Congratulations!

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1 Article; 16,055 Visitors; 961 Posts

I agree with everyone else, but I'd add a final caveat (as someone who left my first NICU job after a year for another NICU job).

Personally, I'd stick around for at least two years. With my first job, I didn't love the city where I was living, and I was itching to see somewhere new. I left my first NICU job right at about a year of experience, and in retrospect I wish I'd stayed for two full years.

The main reason I'd suggest waiting has to do with professional development. No matter where you work, you won't have the chance to care for the sickest kids until you 'prove yourself' and develop a reputation as a prudent, responsible nurse. Even as an experienced nurse, your first week off orientation they won't give you a 700g micro on the oscillator with bilateral chest tubes.

Your first year as a new grad, you spend the year cultivating your skills and building your reputation. When you start at a new place, you have to start all over again. I left my Level III NICU for a Level IV, and I (incorrectly) assumed that because I was going to a higher-acuity unit that I'd get higher-acuity kids. In reality, I started out with even lower-acuity kids on my new unit than I had on my old one because I was still paying my dues and building my reputation. Just because a hospital takes higher-acuity patients doesn't mean that they'll actually assign them to you as a new hire. I probably would have gotten more high-acuity experience in my second year if I'd just stayed at my original Level III hospital.

In addition, I kind of wish that I'd just gotten two years of experience and traveled instead of starting a new full-time job after a year. I ended up moving cross-country and then moving back again after a couple of years; it would have been infinitely easier and cheaper if I'd just waited a bit longer and then traveled. Once I moved, I realized that while I enjoyed the new region, it wasn't my forever home. However, it was a huge hassle literally uprooting my entire life (and apartment) just to figure that out.

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and works as a Professional Development Specialist.

4 Followers; 43,030 Visitors; 5,240 Posts

Hometown job, work for a couple of years, then pick a city and start applying once you have experience. This is a no-brainer.

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