Jump to content

Calling all neonatal nurses (help!)

by ehankins ehankins (New) New

Hello, all! I am currently a junior in a nursing program and am desperate for any and all information regarding life as a neonatal nurse. I already understand what it takes to become one, I just want to hear your stories! Someone recommended I job shadow, which I plan to do (especially since I won't ever get exposed to it through clinicals). I honestly just want to hear all about your best and worst experiences while working. What is a typical day like? How does it take a toll on you emotionally? How do you deal with families? Any funny stories?

Any advice or anything you want to share is greatly appreciated!


Specializes in NICU.

I posted this on another thread:

I started in the NICU fresh off my BSN but I did have a 120 hour capstone in that NICU and knew I wanted to work there. I made sure to sit down and speak with the manager on a few occasions during my capstone and got to know everyone. According to the manager the employees grew to really like me and thought I was doing very well. They asked on a few occasions if she would consider hiring me. The day of a NICU nurse varies widely. Part of it depends on the type of NICU you work in. Mine is a level three and only accommodates less than 30 patients but we also go to all high risk deliveries and do our own transports so you can have a very easy day with 3 stable or "feeder/grower" patients or you can be going on a flight transport 2 hours away to a 24 week micro preemie that's coding and you have to manage with a nurse practitioner until you get back. It can be intense, hard, frustrating, terrifying and absolutely beautiful. You don't always know what you are walking in to so you HAVE to be able to be flexible, think on your feet and deal with an ever changing environment. But it also serves "type A" people well as you are trying to keep on a strict schedule for your babies for proper developmental care and it's a intensive care unit so attention to detail is paramount. These tiny people can (and will) often quit breathing on you multiple times during a shift- not many other specialties can claim that. You also have to be able to deal with families as a whole- it's not just sick babies but their terrified parents and well. You comfort, empower, explain, reinforce, and teach a lot. You have to be a voice for you patients- even if that means standing up to their parents and kicking them out of a room of they are being loud and obnoxious which is bad for their baby. It entails more than I could ever tell you in a thousand pages. But I would never do anything else. It's my passion and where my heart belongs. I have wanted to be a NICU nurse since I was 7 years old and still to this day I want to be one until I'm 70. If this is really the field you chose, you probably won't regret it :) good luck!


Specializes in Neonatal ICU. Has 17 years experience.

I'm not sure there is a "typical" day - but a neonatal nurse can be admitting, continuing care of or discharging babies. Attending complex deliveries, expected or unexpected. Pre-op/post op care. Preceptoring nursing students & new neonatal staff; working in a multidisciplinary team with respiratory/occupational/physio therapists, pharmacists, surgical/cardiology teams, dieticians, palliative care team/pain management... & many others depending on the baby's condition.

Things can definitely take an emotional toll on a daily basis & it's very personal how one neonatal nurse copes compared to another. But like any field of nursing, it's important that a way of coping is found. Our psychologist offers staff support & an team culture of debriefing is encouraged, as well as staff social events to help with morale.

Providing family support ranging from teaching breast feeding to helping pick up the pieces to parents in crisis to giving a baby to a father to hold/kangeroo care for the first time or supporting parents with end of life care for their baby & family. I don't think *anything* in my nursing education, except maybe a little bit of psych, prepared me for dealing with parents of neonates.