Is the NICU right for me?



I am a pre nursing student, so this may be a little premature to be asking, but I tend to think things through very early. :)

My dream is to be a nurse in the NICU. I have been think about this for quite awhile, but I had a very rough period of time between high school and now that kept me from even starting nursing school. I have done a lot of reading and research in this area for nursing and feel very comfortable with being able to handle it. Granted that is without any experience, so that could change.

My fear lies here. In Feb. 2004, I gave birth to my son Jamisen at 22 weeks. I handled it well (or as well as a Mom can, I guess) because I had already known a lot of statistics and the like for the survival rate at that time for a male 22 weeker. I think I knew all along something was not quite right, so I needed the infomation. I had wonderful nursing staff and a wonderful Dr. that were very supportive.

This same Dr., along with my family at this point worry that being a nurse in the NICU would not be an ideal situation for someone in my shoes. (A little add'l info, I have not been able to have another child since, and am pretty convinced this is my lot in life, to remain childless. I'm glad I have lots of siblings! I also have been thru some harrowing NICU stays with other peoples kids, and they are all so beautiful and grown up now!) They worry that it will continually bring up this sad situation for me.

I am curious if anyone out there has been in my shoes. I think it is an ideal postion for me, as I have a very different perspective than someone without my loss.

Any thoughts?


2 Articles; 2,512 Posts

Specializes in Neonatal ICU (Cardiothoracic). Has 9 years experience.

We have had a few NICU nurses who have had preemies or lost premature infants. I think it might bring back some memories for you, but would also be a rewarding experience for you, as you would bring a different perspective to the NICU.


146 Posts

Specializes in ICN. Has 24 years experience.

If you are very interested in babies and have a passion for caring for them, I think you should pursue the ICN after nursing school. I work with several nurses who had preemies, either before or during working in our nursery. Yes, that could bring back sad memories for you, but it also can be a source of strength for you--and if you wanted to talk to other mothers who lost babies (have you found a mother's group to talk about the experience?) or talk to the moms of the preemies in the unit, they might be able to get some comfort from someone who has had the same sorts of experiences they have.

What ever your path, don't let someone else disuade you from what you want ultimately want to do. ICN is a fantastic place to be.


I was so delighted to read your post because I felt as though someone was writing my story. I lost a son in the NICU in July of 2004. He was born with a fatal skeleton dysplasia that prevented his lungs from fully expanding. Immediately after birth he was placed on a ventilator. Within 48 hrs the doctors told my husband and me that we had to make a decision regarding taking him off of the ventilator because he would never be able to sustain life without the aid of a ventilator. Needless to say, it was the hardest decision that I have ever had to make. However in the midst of all my uncertainty and grief, I was blessed to have a wonderful NICU nurse. Her warmth and compassion got me through a difficult time. Whenever I came to visit, she would tell me how she always requested to take care of my son. He was hooked up to so many monitors, tubes and drips. I couldn't fathom how anyone could keep it all straight and continue to work while having a smile on their face. Her level of competence and watchful diligence put me at ease. I knew that when I couldn't be there, she would care for him as though he was her very own. I can't count the times that I have asked the familiar question, "Why me?" After working through my grief, the answer finally came. If my son had not been in the NICU, I never would have given this type of nursing a second thought. We never had clinical rotations in the NICU when I was in nursing school. I have never forgotten that wonderful NICU nurse that cared for my son. As a result, I decided that I too wanted to become a NICU nurse. I wanted to be able to give another family what I had been given. Now when I tell families that I understand what they're going through, I'm not just saying words. I have walked in their shoes so to speak and I feel that this level of empathy will make me a very effective nurse. My family was apprehensive about my desision to work in the NICU. Just like your family, they thought it would bring back painful memories. I have tried to work in other areas of nursing, but I keep having a desire to work in the NICU. I was allowed to "shadow" a NICU nurse one weekend and felt as though I had finally came home. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that this is what I was meant to do. I interviewed for the job on February 5, 2009 and was told I had the job right on the spot. I was so excited. I am currently recovering from surgery, but should be able to begin work in the NICU on April 6, 2009. My director told me that quite a few of the NICU nurses came to that department after previously having babies in the NICU. My advice would be to follow your heart and pursue your dreams because only you can truly answer the question of whether the NICU is right for you. I'll keep in touch and let you know how my journey is going!

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