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How to become NICU nurse


I'm reaching out to anyone who is currently a NICU nurse. I am interested in learning how you got into this field and if you were immediately hired as a new grad RN in this position. I am currently in my senior year of nursing school and I am looking for ways to increase my chances of being employed on this unit. In your opinion, do you think working as a patient care technician on a labor and delivery unit would help me become a NICU nurse? I know in my area there are no NICU patient care technician job openings so it is not possible for me to gain experience directly in this area. Please let me know what areas would help me land a position in NICU or pediatrics upon graduating from nursing school. Any advice is appreciated! I am also not sure if employers really care for pediatric volunteer experience. I feel as if they are more interested in actual paid work experience, but let me know if I am wrong about this. Thank you so much!


Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

I got hired into the NICU as a new grad. I had a 125 hr Capstone placement at a Level IV NICU my last semester of nursing school. I applied to every NICU opening that didn't state "XX yrs of NICU experience required". After 50 applications, I got two offers, a Level III in NC and a Level IV in KY. I accepted the offer at the Level IV because they have ECMO and transport. I have been trying to transfer to Neonatal/Pediatric Transport for the last year.

We hire almost exclusively new grads. Majority of the new hires are either NICU or hospital PCAs, students that did their Capstone on our unit, or Summer Externs (6 week paid externship during the Summer before their senior year). I would get a PCA job at a hospital that has a NICU, preferably at a children's hospital due to the size of the NICU. The larger the NICU, the more nurses they need and positions become available quicker than a 6 bed Level II that has 15 nurses. We are a 103 bed Level IV NICU with 300 nurses, so openings come up frequently due to retirements and nurses going to FNP and NNP school.


Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I was hired into a NICU New Graduate Program without a ton of NICU experience in nursing school.  I applied to any hospital in the country that had a NICU New Graduate training Program and I was willing to move anywhere I got a job.  You can also take steps like taking STABLE or getting NRP certified that shows you are serious about the NICU.  Practice and be well prepared for your interviews.  Really focus on the large academic medical centers with the Level III-IV NICUs that have well established NICU New graduate Programs.  Once you have 2-3 years experience you can get a job anywhere.  Best of Luck!

may1787, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 12 years experience.

I did a NICU capstone in college, did a nurse externship during college, and was hired into an internship. 

I don't think going into L&D will help you, but nursery work in postpartum might. Pediatrics *might* but its difficult to say because it all depends on the hospital.