New Grad (soon-to-be) Interested in Working in NICU


Hello! :)

I am a soon-to-be new graduate of a bachelor's degree program (3 more months -- yay!), and I'm interested in beginning a career as a NICU nurse. I really haven't had any experience in the NICU, although I've been through an OB/postpartum rotation and I have visited my local hospital's NICU, spoke w/the nurses there, and loved the atmosphere! I would have loved to do my preceptorship in the NICU, but unfortunately there were limited spots for students, and I am doing mine in the surgical-trauma intensive care unit instead.

Though it is several months in advance before I graduate and earn licensure, I am thinking about applying for NICU jobs in the city I plan to move to upon graduation. I have several questions about this:

-- What are the chances of a new grad being hired into a NICU, especially ones like me without the experience?

-- What sort of interview questions can I expect to be asked?

-- What steps can I take to increase my chances of being hired at this moment in time?

I appreciate any advice and input you can give me! Thanks so much :)


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Specializes in Pediatrics, ER. Has 6 years experience.

Hi there. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! Here is what I've found helpful in the search for a NICU position. I don't know about your area but mine has very few new grad positions available at any hospital, and there is no nursing shortage here. Your best bet is to find an area that is desperate for nurses or very new grad friendly. If there isn't much of a shortage in your area you can expect approximately 240 applicants for every one position, and that number includes experienced nurses applying for the position.

Nures managers in the NICU want candidates who are strong but humble. They want to know what drives you, what has motivated you to want to work with critically ill newborns. Your best bet is to be honest. They don't want to hear that you're motivated to work in the NICU because you love to play with babies. You're going to get asked about your intentions, you'll get asked about school and work. It would help a lot if you had ANY kind of experience as a tech/PCA/CNA. I can almost guarantee you'll get asked how you will handle it when a baby passes away. Come up with a couple of really good questions. They want to know that you're interested and have some base knowledge of the NICU.

To help boost your resume you could volunteer as a cuddler in a nearby NICU. You could get a job as a PCA if you don't already have to have ICU/ER/peds experience or somewhere like an oncology floor where you will see a lot of comfort measures and death and it explicates the compassion you need as a nurse. Good grades will help but not as much as experience and the way you present yourself during the interview. Also know that it pays to be persistent. It took me one year of calling, talking to HR, applying, and begging before I finally got the nurse manager of the NICU I want to work at to respond to me. They won't remember you if you don't give them a reason. HTH, and good luck!

Specializes in NICU.

I second the "be persistent" thought. If you show that you're really interested in NICU, you should have less of a difficult time getting in as a new grad. Call and call and call some more.

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