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Is this a good NICU opportunity?


My background- several years in adult hospital nursing- have never worked in NICU but have always wanted to.

The potential opportunity:Level 3 NICU/ Intermediate care, 50 average census, recent staff turnover partly due to recent start of on-call mandatory scheduling- 12-24 hours per month per nurse I think (4 hour shifts- an extra $2 per hour worked), and about 75% of them were called in for those shifts. Nurse ratios: 1:2-3 in the NICU ratio, 1:3-4 in the ICN. It is an hour drive for me (rural mostly) and 12 hour nights with every other weekend and every other holiday (in the past I have had difficulty with night shift, but think it will be better now that the children are out of the house, but I still will hate/ have difficulty with the long drive). A possibility of carpooling. 11 week orientation. They use a pyxis and another computer charting program I am not familiar with. The employees seem pleasant. Possibly some personality differences, but that is like anywhere. Not much pay difference from local work here for me, but will give me a chance to do NICU.

I am a little nervous about the drive, the newness of NICU (even as a seasoned nurse), the night shift, and the fear of making any mistakes while working with such fragile patients, especially given the recent news story on a nurse's med mistake. There is nothing open locally in the maternal/child realm, and I am ready to move on from my adult floor staff position. I'm going back to school soon for my Master's. Locally, I have been offered a limbo position in the level 2 NICU if I can get my foot in the door in L+D or MBU, but there are no openings- and they aren't expecting to have any openings in the near future.

Is there downtime in the NICU? I have a shadowing opportunity in the near future- what should I look for? What questions should I ask? What advice would you give me? I have been known to internalize stress from work and hope doing something I desire and enjoy will make stress more manageable. I know there will be stress in the NICU, but I hope that it will be a different kind than floor nursing, and that the rewards will outweigh it.

BittyBabyGrower, MSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, educator.

If you are hesitant about the drive, how are you going to feel taking call and having to go in extra? Also, I would ask how flexible they will be working with you if you need time off for your schooling....some places only allow X amt of requests per time period.

NICU is stressful, esp if you are moving from adult world to little people world. And there isn't alot of down time like on the adult floors...our little ones don't sleep all night and there is always something going on like admits, etc.

Good luck with your choice!

RosesrReder, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 19 years experience.

I agree with the above post.

I came from Adult MS to NICU as well and it was a whole new world. You have to erase your brain from the adult world and aside from your 11 wk orientation (which is awesome, btw), I advice you read, read, read at home. The only thing I can honestly say I brought with me from the adult world was time management skills. Otherwise, it's a whole different world.

Nursing school doesn't prepare you for this at all and so you are a student again. I checked out many books from our Education department, bought my own Neofax and did practice questions online as if I was studying for my RNC.

I really love the NICU and got a lot of praise and feeback from the experienced staff because I went beyond to learn what, why, when and how of NICU.

I worked nights as well and I always had a 'go to' nurse and asked way too many questions. The experienced nurses will be glad to share their experience and knowledge. Always double and triple check meds with other staff, look them up on the neofax etc.

Btw, I have never experienced teamwork as in the NICU. Admits are not your typical. There will be plenty of helping hands and you are never on your own roaming around like the floors.

Laslty, the ratios sound about right. Rarely I have takem 5 growers due to understaffing but for the most part 4 is the norm.

In level III, I never have more than 3 and that is one vent paired with others on bubble cpap or less.

Good luck!

Edited by Jessy_RN
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