Can I leave the NICU?

Specialties NICU


So, I graduated nursing school about 1 1/2 years ago and went straight to the NICU as a new grad. Lately I have been thinking about trying something new. Dont get me wrong, I think that I have such a cool job, and love working with babies, but I feel like if I dont get out of the NICU soon, I will be there forever. Im still young and want to explore different areas of nursing but im afraid that working in the NICU will limit me from qualifying for other jobs. Has anyone ever left the NICU to work with adults, if so how was the transition? Can it be done?


39 Posts

Specializes in Adult Critical Care/Neonatal ICU.

I am making a switch in the opposite direction. I have worked in adult critical care for over 11 years and finally got into the NICU. I can tell you that there are some things that are very similar, but there are also things that are very different. I can't imagine leaving NICU to work with adults since I have wanted INTO the NICU for years, but good luck if that's what you want to do.

You will be starting over....just not from square one. Your assessment skills, critical thinking, experiences with relaying information to physicians and families will all carry over to a new area. You will have to reset the "normals" for vital signs and things in your head. You will be dealing with different settings on the vents but the general skills will be the same. can be done without totally feeling like a new grad again. Good luck!

TiffyRN, BSN, PhD

2,315 Posts

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research.

I've known several nurses who left our unit to work with adults. Three went to related areas like Mother/Baby or L&D and I know that they enjoyed the transition and still work those areas. Several others went to other areas but I don't know how they did. At least a couple were going for advanced practice type things like Adult NP or CRNA. It is a bigger leap than transitioning between different adult specialties, but it is possible and done many times.


1 Post

I started my career 4 years ago as a NICU nurse (fresh out of school). Since then, I tried cardiac research with adults and I also did Pediatric ER. I always found myself going back to the NICU! I missed the intensity of the work and the follow-up we have with the patients. I guess I am a true NICU nurse at heart, and for me, there is no other unit but the NICU. I have been with the same unit now for almost a year after moving across the country and I find myself very happy in my new surroundings. The unit is on the smaller size, but we have level 3 babes which can keep you on your toes at times.

Good luck with whatever decision you make!

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU.

Hi--worked with adults and NICU. LOVE BOTH. But there are sooooooo many things to remember for the adults, and less for the NICU--drugs, etc.,

Both have their stressors (I felt more stress with the NICU, but that's because I am a mom and I kept placing myself in parents' shoes)...

Yes, you will have a HUGE learning curve and almost feel like you are back in school. You will have to know how to assess, reasses, etc.,

Good luck. I went from adult to NICU and found the transition challenging, but quite fun.


1 Article; 2,512 Posts

Specializes in Neonatal ICU (Cardiothoracic).

I got the itch to wander a few years ago, and went to an 80-bed Level I ER.. While it was a great unit, and a lot of adrenaline to feed my habit, it was NOT my niche. So I went back to NICU, and have been here ever since. I did cross-train to PICU, and would work a shift or two ever couple of weeks. It kept me on my toes, and I was able to add to my knowledge/experience base while keeping the wandering itch in check.

Like others have said, some skills will transfer (especially being able to get an IV in a capillary LOL) but you will be faced with a whole new (and larger) set of comorbidities, diseases and parameters. You can do it!

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