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highschool senior curious about neonatal nursing


I'm a senior in highschool and I've been seriously thinking about majoring in nursing next year for college. I've been looking into neonatal nursing because I looooooooove babies but from what I've read online, alot of neonatal nurses work in the NICU and I'm not sure I'd be able to deal with extremely sick babies :( Is there such thing as a well baby nurse?? if I become a neonatal nurse do I HAVE to work in the NICU? I know some nurses work in the nurseries in the hospitals..is it hard to get into that area?



Specializes in LTC.

OP - any and all places in a hospital have SICK patients. That's why they're in a hospital, even in nurseries. What else could you be that deals ONLY with well babies? Outside of nursing, there's day-care centers or being a nanny.

Just know that to get through nursing school, you would have to rotate through all the fields, adult & pedi, medical/surgical, psych. So you'd have to be prepared for those experiences.

Maybe volunteering at a hospital might give you a better perspective of nsg. You might surprise yourself and find out you like some other specialties. Give it a chance. Good luck.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

Every hospital that delivers babies has a well-baby nursery and many nurses perfer to work there only. I love babies too. I also likec working in the pedi area where the kids were sick, of course. Special people.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

I disagree slightly with classicdame. There are very few nurses who work in the "well baby nursery" anymore. Most of those nurseries have been converted to "mother-baby" units -- in which the nurse takes care of both the new mother and the baby together. The pure "normal newborn" units with healthy babies only are small and hire few nurses. It is usually very hard to get a job there because the work is so nice that there aren't many open positions.

There are nurseries that provide "intermediate level care" -- for babies who need some special attention, and who are not well enough to go home with their mothers, but who are not critically ill either. They are also very popular units to work in.

So there are some career opportunities that involve working with babies that are either well or only slightly sick. However, to be realistic, a young person shouldn't assume that such a job will be easy to find because they are so popular. Also, working in such a unit does not shield a nurse from tragic situations. Such nurses often attend deliveries -- and they can go bad very quickly. Similarly, a healthy baby can turn into a critically ill one amazingly fast. Nurses who work in such environments need to be ready to respond to a rapidly deteriorating situation quickly, effectively, and calmly.

For a young person considering a nursing career ... While it is possible to sometimes work with healthy newborns ... you'll have to be prepared to work with the sick ones, too.

While there is such a thing as agencies that employ nurses who will do private-duty for couples and families with newborns, "well baby care", to GET to that point would mean having to go through an awful lot that doesn't seem like it would appeal to you. And of course some of those "well babies" become UNwell babies.....which is why they hired the nurse in the first place.

And while there are those agencies that provide 'baby nurses' (read: unlicensed, often newly-moved-to-America workers) to people willing to pay but not willing to pay the cost of an ACTUAL nurse......you just do not want to go there.

I think the suggestion to do some volunteering in a hospital is a good one, and may prove helpful to you to see what really goes on. Good luck :)

firstinfamily, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Sounds like you should do some volunteering before making any decisions. It does take time to get through nursing college and then specialize. You would not be able to enter a specialty field of nursing until after you have graduated from nursing college and also had some basic nursing experience such as med-surgical nursing. Usually the speciality areas hiring in the hospitals want nurses with some experience before they specialize. You may be introduced to neonatal nursing in nursing college, but you will truly not be on the unit unless it is offered in your college clinical experience. Most nursing colleges do not encourage training in the specialty units until after graduation, they are more concerned with exposing you to the basics of nursing. What ever you choose, continue to have your positive attitude!!!! No matter what area of nursing you choose, know that at any time any patient can go down a life-threatening path and you will have to be prepared to handle this.

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

You would not be able to enter a specialty field of nursing until after you have graduated from nursing college and also had some basic nursing experience such as med-surgical nursing.

This is not true. I have been a nurse for 7 1/2 years and have never worked med-surg or any specialty with adults. I was hired straight out of school onto a specialty floor at a pediatric hospital. Most of this hospital's new hires are new grads today- they prefer to hire them because A) they're cheaper and B) they can mold them in to the kind of nurse they want. It's harder, sure, but not impossible to find work in the specialty of one's choosing straight out of school.

OP, nurses who work only in newborn nurseries are a rarity. When I did my Maternity rotation, there was a nursery on the floor where babies who were under the bili lights or whose temps were too low stayed for brief periods of time. There was ONE nurse who stayed in there but the babies were officially assigned to the nurse caring for their mothers.

Loving babies is not a good enough reason to become a neonatal nurse, IMO. Neonatal nursing is not all cuddling healthy babies. You see babies born addicted to crack. Moms who've had 7 kids taken away from them already and come in pregnant with #8 (by a different baby Daddy of course) who will surely be taken soon after birth.

Also, to clarify, you "become" a neonatal nurse by finding a job as one. Nurses graduate as generalists and don't specialize in school. Finding work in a NICU is extremely difficult.


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

Few hospitals have well nurseries anymore, and those that do are generally moving away from that model. Most well babies room in with Mom.

What about becoming a lactation consultant? You work with babies (well and not well) and mamas to help them get breastfeeding down.

I agree about volunteering, or exploring other avenues like child care and nannying. These days, unless people NEED nursing care, they don't get it. Even sick patients are going home MUCH earlier than they were 50 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

Nursing school, should you choose to pursue it, will expose you to many areas of nursing (and there are always more!). The more open you are going in, the better. I went in on the path to being a midwife (still on that path), and I found other areas that I didn't think would appeal to me as much as they did, like hospice.