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live4rachael 3,051 Views

Joined: Jun 11, '06; Posts: 134 (7% Liked) ; Likes: 9

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  • May 11 '09

    So today I was wondering..... how well do we as NICU nurses best represent what NICU really is to nursing students?

    Too often, nursing students are abruptly dropped off at the NICU door, handed a scrub sponge, and abandoned by their nursing instructor, who is equally petrified of what lies beyond the glass-paneled door...

    We all know that students rarely get a glimpse of what we do in NICU, let alone get to experience the day-to-day life that is our job as a neonatal ICU RN. Often we groan inwardly at the idea of having someone tag along with us on our highly organized and structured routine, interrupting our seamless flow of care with the interjection of questions and gasps at "how small these babies are."

    Nursing schools haven't changed much in the way they teach neonatal nursing care. They just, well, don't. I mean, when I was in nursing school 5 years ago (= ages), We briefly covered nursing care of the well newborn along with the onslaught of information that comes with learning enough antepartum, labor/delivery, pediatric and newborn nursing in a mere 15 week semester. I can't even remember what I learned about neonates.

    So where does that leave us, the lucky nurse to have been volunteered to show a student around?

    I think it leaves us NICU nurses with an obligation to give them a realistic and honest taste of what NICU life is like. This means having them get report with you, check orders, go on deliveries, calculate meds, run fluids, change diapers, feed, assess, look up labs, observe procedures, attend rounds, etc. The most important thing is to let them get their hands "dirty." I can't tell you how many students have followed me, with a wild, petrified look in their eyes, suddenly relax and melt when I've picked up a bread-and-butter 31 weeker on room air and passed him to them while I changed the isolette mattress....The look is priceless..puzzlement, terror, then excitement... They suddenly go from believing "This is something I could NEVER do" to "Wait, I could do this!"

    We need more good nurses in NICU. Here's our chance to mentor a few good ones, before they leave the unit thinking, "Wow... I could never do that.... I'm going to med/surg!"

    My goal is to have that wet-behind-the-ears nursing student, overwhelmed by life, school, and the choices ahead of them, leave the unit after that one day thinking "THIS is what I want to do....."

  • Feb 24 '09

    Thanks for the kudos. I am sorry about your baby
    Trust me those 4 semesters will go by very fast - good luck!

  • Nov 12 '08

    Really, I've learned to take OTHER people's experiences with a grain of salt.

    I'm in my last year of nursing school, and I would hear from the ones who already graduated how hard a certain test/course was and blah, blah, blah.

    I would "freak out" and stress out, study my butt off, and when I get to the actual test, I would be so "wired up" I couldnt think straight. Then once I relaxed, I could actually read the questions and the test wasnt "all that bad".

    I just don't listen to other's experiences regarding school/nursing anymore. I need to create my own experience and what may be easy/hard to others may not be the same for you.

    I just try to stay clear of people who always have a negative outlook on things. Look at the glass being half full instead of half empty.

    I hope this works. Good luck to you!

  • Nov 12 '08

    If you know this is what you want to do and it sounds like you do then I would ignore them. As for the overworked and underpaid bit well I don't know what line of work these naysayers are in but for the record there are plenty of us out here now working long hours for a lot less than nurses! If I can have the privilege of doing something engaging where I can make a difference in the lives of others and get paid a decent wage for it - that sounds good to me.

  • Nov 12 '08

    My whole opinion on this subject is that yeah, sometimes nursing sucks, but all jobs do. Personally, I have thought those exact same things about the hours, burnout, etc. about school bus drivers and teachers. Thank God there's someone who wants those jobs, b/c I sure as heck couldn't do them! Different strokes for different folks and all that.

    It sounds like you've found a career path which you truly believe you can follow with passion. Don't worry about the naysayers, as you progress and they see how happy you are they'll be proven wrong. Just tell them "I've thought long and hard about this decision, and if you can't support me in it, then please don't bring it up. I understand you are concerned because you care about me, and I appreciate it, but this is my choice to make."

    Next thing you know, they'll be calling you with questions about whether or not they have a broken wrist after falling or if it sounds like Grandma Jane is having a heart attack. Just try to not say "Bet you're glad I decided to become a nurse now, huh?"

  • Nov 12 '08

    Quote from Csantos
    some people say so much cr*p about nursing school, how it is so hard, and not doable... i wonder what do they thing about Med school? or some other related, maybe histology???

    c'mon, if it was not doable there wouldnt be nurses, and the pay would be AWESOME...

    it is hard, but doable!!! i went through all my pre-reqs working full time and going to school full time! and want to try to keep it this way (no financial aid here sorry***)
    I totally agree. During the first week of class the instructor asked for a bio on all of us....do we work, do we have family etc. She commented that she had concern about me working full time. Concern enough to pay my way thru school and my bills? Anything is doable if you have the passion. I won't be the first to succeed while working full time and I won't be the last.

  • Nov 12 '08

    Quote from live4rachael
    I first decided to become a nurse about 2 and a half years ago. After losing my first daughter to Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type I (after constant time in and out of hospitals), I grew such an admiration for the nurses that helped us. I didn't like my job (nor do I still - I have only 19 days left!). I have always loved taking care of people, I'm good at math & science, and was trying to figure out what to do "with my life."

    To make sure this was really want I wanted, I spent eight months volunteering every weekend at a nearby NICU. I fell in love with it, looking forward to it every week. It really was the highlight of my week.

    I started taking pre-reqs so I could apply for a nearby accelerated BSN program. I loved those as well. A & P I/II and Microbiology fascinated me. I then got accepted to the program, and I start in January.

    I swear, everyone I know is telling me this isn't for me. Even those who know my whole story. "Nurses work horrible hours"... "Nurses are overworked and underpaid"... "You're going to burn out in a couple of years, and then what?"... "My (sister) (aunt) (mom) (friend) is a nurse and is miserable"... " "I have a (fill-in-the-blank) in nursing school that is sooo stressed, are you sure you can handle that now that you have a toddler?"

    Keep in mind none of the people making these statements ARE nurses. I just never imagined this. I know this is what I want, I volunteered for so long and spoke with the nurses at length about what to expect... Why can't people be happy for me?

    Sorry, I'm just venting... I'm so frustrated and am tired of feeling like I have to convince people that I'm not an idiot.
    I'm a mom of a toddler, who I love love love, and plan on having another one before I start nursing school in a year and a half--so my child will be about 3-4 mos old. I have to get a degree (I have a B.A. History) that will ACTUALLY get me a good paying job for my kid (s). I love my pre-reqs (just like you), I love school and I love the challenge. When I was in my first semester of my senior year in undergrad school I took 19 hours, 6 hours at the 500 (graduate) level both of which required 35+ theses, 9 hours of honors coursework, 4 hours of regular coursework, and worked part-time. I got As in every class. People told me "that's too hard...why do you want to stress yourself like that." I always say "because I know I can handle it, I enjoy a challenge, and I like to push myself to achieve things." Be proud of yourself, get excited about it and push those nay-sayers aside. They haven't any clue what they are talking about.

  • Nov 12 '08

    Please don't listen to these silly people.
    It sounds like you know exactly what you want and have done the preparation to get there. Move forward and pursue your dream! :heartbeat

  • Nov 12 '08

    some people say so much cr*p about nursing school, how it is so hard, and not doable... i wonder what do they thing about Med school? or some other related, maybe histology???

    c'mon, if it was not doable there wouldnt be nurses, and the pay would be AWESOME...

    it is hard, but doable!!! i went through all my pre-reqs working full time and going to school full time! and want to try to keep it this way (no financial aid here sorry***)

  • Nov 12 '08

    You know you could probably say all of the above about most jobs. I ditto, that unless someone has first hand knowledge, they really have no idea. Talk to someone that has the passion. They will be honest about the good points and bad. Sounds like you will make a good nurse.

  • Nov 12 '08

    I could give a rip what people that have no first hand knowledge about something say. You will have enough on your plate with school, work and being a Mom to dwell on negative people imo. Good luck and fwiw I love being a nurse and if I burn out...well duh, I'll find another career.

  • Nov 12 '08

    We all know nursing school isn't easy and being a nurse isn't for everyone. But if you think it is for you, then just keep going for it.

    I start nursing school in January and believe me, when I decided that this was what I was finally going to do, some people thought I was crazy. They couldn't believe that at my age, I would want to do something so challenging. I turned 55 in October. I have always wanted to be a nurse, and in 2007 I started taking the prereqs so that I could get into nursing school. I loved A & P and I am in Micro this semester and love it too. I was accepted into our community college's ASN program and I can't wait!!

    Good luck.

  • Nov 12 '08

    Wow, I am so sorry to hear you are getting negative feedback. I have found the opposite to be true. I hear how wonderful nursing is, how much money I will make, how I get to work just 3 days a week, etc. The people that I talk to think that NS is a piece of cake! I have to remind everyone how competitive NS is and how much hard work and dedication it takes. Nursing is not for every joe blow, but it sounds like you have got it!

    I am sure you are just venting and know to just brush the comments off. I just wanted to say that I am proud of you...volunteering in NICU for that long, that is awesome. I am glad there are people out there that get into NS with their eyes open and have the chance to make a real difference while living their dream.

  • Oct 26 '08

    I commute from Summerville and it isn't too bad. I spend about 2 to 3 hours a day between driving and the shuttle bus from the parking lot. It is free to park in the Hagood lot, but you have to get there by 7:30 to be sure you get a spot. You can do the buses they work fine, but I found it wasn't worth it. It took me 30-35 min to get to the bus stop (then 30-40 min bus ride) and I can be downtown in 40-45 min. If you're a morning person this will be fine I was worried about parking too, but it really isn't a big issue, just have to get there early.

    Oh, and in case you don't know, it's free to ride the bus with your student ID.

  • Oct 26 '08

    I got one lab coat and two tops, but honestly I think 2 lab coats would have been better, since you wear that at least 3 times a week.

    They told us in orientation to learn our lab values and practice our dosage calculations before school starts, since you won't have time to work on it too much after school starts. But they failed to tell us which lab values to know. You'll find the "accepted" lab values vary widely, so I would e-mail your patho instructor as soon as you find out who it is and see what values they want you to learn. If you have Dr. Welton, I can tell you which ones he uses.

    As for dosage calculations, I found it nearly impossible to start working on that before school started, because again, it can vary widely. I would say just start learning all of your conversion amounts. How many mL in an ounce? How man mL in a teaspoon? How many teaspoons in an onuce? How many lbs. in a kg? How many mcg in a mg, in a g? How many grains in a gram? Stuff like that. If you know all of your conversion factors before you start, that will help a ton.

    It is a really wonderful program, congrats on getting in!


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