How to Get into the NICU

Specialties NICU


New grad NICU jobs are few and far between. I have met many future RNs worried about not getting into their specialty of choice right out of school, and that it will be impossible to transition into if they start in Med/Surg. What do you all think? What sort of experience does a nurse need to transition into NICU, if any? Should they start into peds right away or should they gain adult experience?

Start in NICU. If you can't get into NICU, get into something as related as possible. Peds, L&D, mother and baby, etc.

You have the best chance at your first choice(s) if you're willing to move.

Specializes in NICU.

If you are willing and able to move, find a job in pediatrics. Ideally, find a job in an Intermediate Nursery or a Level II NICU. The next best job would be any nursing job in a children's hospital.

I applied to every NICU job opening in the country that didn't require experience. I applied to 50-100 openings and accepted an offer at a Level IV NICU as a new grad.

Getting into a NICU (especially Lvl III/IV) may be easy or difficult depending on location, timing, and the manager's willingness to hire new grads. There were several factors that helped me get my job. The NICU is large and hired 5-10 nurses every 3 months to replace the nurses leaving to do travel nursing or FNP jobs, I had a 135 hr. Senior Capstone placement at a Lvl IV NICU, and I am an oddity in NICU (male). Hospitals are big on diversity in their units and there are few males wanting to go into NICU.

Specializes in NICU.

Would you mind saying which hospital this is? I will be a new grad within the year and am looking to go straight into the NICU.

Specializes in NICU.
Would you mind saying which hospital this is? I will be a new grad within the year and am looking to go straight into the NICU.

Norton Children's in Louisville. We have majorly curtailed our hiring. We are the only Level IV in the state, but there are several Lvl 2s that are now taking less critical babies that would have been transported to us.

We have a summer extern program for nursing students between their Junior and Senior year. We primarily hire our summer externs or PCAs that went to nursing school when they graduate. There are exceptions, like me, that either had a Senior Capstone at another Lvl IV or experience in L&D.

If there are openings, go ahead and apply. Just realize that there will be other applicants that were fortunate to have a summer externship or a Senior Capstone during nursing school that will give them a slight edge.

Specializes in NICU, Psych.

Your best bet is to get into a residency program, if you can find one. I spent almost 4 years as a mental health tech and was able to go right into a NICU residency after graduation. Those two specialties are about as far apart from one another as you can get, but the residency was basically NICU Nursing school, with tests and clinicals and whatnot, so I never felt like I was further behind than anyone else in the program.

Specializes in NICU.

Nicu was always my first choice but as a new grad I was told come back after you have one years experience.I worked at whatever i could get slowly moving closer to the job I wanted,it took much longer than one year. Some of the other areas I worked were so stressful for many reasons ,that I actually turned down the original place when they got around to calling me for peds icu.

So get experience where ever you can get it,then keep applying for the job you want.Keep reading and learning about as much as you can in any area you work.It will be worth it.Remember even if you get that nicu job your colleagues will not all be new grads with no experience,you will be going toe to toe with very experienced,very smart,well rounded nurses and doctors.....and parents who "google" every symptom.

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

1. Get whatever experience in a NICU as a student - student practicum, choose neonatal topics for research papers, etc. If you can volunteer in a NICU, do it.

2. Seek employment in large NICU's, not small ones. The large ones "go through" need to replace nurses who are moving on for one reason or another and are more likely to need to hire large numbers of nurses each year. They are the hospitals most likely to hire new grads into NICU.

3. Seek employment in Children's Hospitals and university hospitals. Similar to #2 above -- they are most likely to have a "mobile" staff, frequent turnover, and to accustomed to hiring new grads.

4. If you can't get a NICU job as a new grad, get a job as close to NICU as you can -- peds, maternity, etc. Adult med/surg is of no help and may actually make it harder for you to transition to NICU should you ever get the chance.

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