Love NICU, hate med-surg?

  1. Hi, everyone. I am a senior nursing student. Will graduate in August. Have a job lined up in the NICU for after graduation. I'm very excited about the NICU job but also concerned. Mostly, maybe, I just need a pep talk...

    From the get-go, I have always wanted to do something with moms and babies. Knew this going into school, and reconfirmed it in my maternity/OB rotation.

    HOWEVER, nursing school of course includes med-surg. I *hate* med-surg (adult). I know that I am not cut out for adult med-surg AT ALL, and that's where I'm doing my "internship" type clinical this last semester of school. I chose it so I could try to solidify my general med-surg knowledge. I am learning a good bit, but I really can't stand adult med-surg.

    I came home tonight thinking that if adult med-surg were the only area of nursing available, I would quit right now...

    I did great in the OB rotation (which included L&D, PP, nursery, and NICU), the psych rotation, the peds rotation, the community health rotation...and even my previous med-surg rotation (which was mostly surgery) was better than this adult medical stuff. So I know I have strengths as a nurse...just not cut out to be an adult med-surg nurse. And I feel like (and have been told that) I'm great with babies (sick or healthy) and their families.

    Did anyone else experience this level of frustration with adult med-surg? If so, please let me know as I need reassurance that a nurse can be a great NICU nurse even if she doesn't excel at adult med-surg...

    Or should I be concerned that it might be a warning sign that I might not cut it as a NICU nurse either...? I'm really worried about this... Though maybe I shouldn't be if I did well in my other (esp maternity) clinicals...?


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    About KarenAR

    Joined: Dec '01; Posts: 224; Likes: 4


  3. by   2banurse
    I think that until you really start working as a nurse, not doing your clinicals, you will not get the full experience. If med-surg is not for you, it's not for you. Since you have said that you did well with the OB rotation in which you included NICU, you'll never know until you get further into it.

    Don't give up heart...who knows? Do what you enjoy, that's the most important thing.

  4. by   magRN
    I also knew from the start I wanted to work in some area of Peds....but I really lucked out getting in the NICU right away.
  5. by   llg
    I always said that if the only job I could get after graduation was in adult med/surg, I would go to law school -- and I as serious. I hated it with a passion. That was 26 years ago. I got a job in a NICU immediately after graduation, became a NICU CNS, got a Master's and Phd, and now do staff development and administration at a children's hospital.

    You don't have to like adult med-surg to be a good nurse.

    Best wishes,
  6. by   Jolie
    I graduated from nursing school 17 years ago, vowing that I would not take care of a sick adult as long as I lived. Knock on wood, I haven't had to! I did OB and NICU for 11 years, and have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 6. With my baby preparing to enter Kindergarten, I plan to look into school nursing or some other family friendly option. That's the beauty of nursing. There are so many specialties that you don't have to do anything that doesn't interest you.

    I thank my lucky stars that there are talented and dedicated adult-care nurses who do med-surg, geriatrics, psych, and all those areas I know I could never do.
  7. by   Mira
    `important thing is your desire to work in NICU,I think you will be a great NICU nurse with this driving force.Your experience in the med-surg will make you appreciate NICU job-you don`t mind changing diapers frequently as they don`t smell like adult`s.Sometimes Med-Surg will give you actual background knowledge about:gastrostomy ,thoracostomy,tracheostomy,oro/nasogastric tubes and colostomies,dressing or wound care(NICU sometimes got cases of extravasation injury,and diaper rash).For the meantime enjoy your work because the more you hate it the more it will become undesirable,who knows you might love it(I remember my first day on wound management unit,I almost throw-up as soon as I saw a gangrenous wound but after 2weeks I was loving cleaning it that I noticed my tounge was coming out from excitement getting all the scabs-so happy to see that the wound was healing,unfortunately I didn`t stay coz of too much politics in that said unit). I wish you all the best wherever you might be in.
  8. by   nicudaynurse
    I had absolutely no interest in adult care and have no regrets in going straight to the NICU.
  9. by   roxannekkb
    I ***hated*** med/surg in nursing school, and managed to get through my clinical rotation without ever giving a bed bath, changing a bedpan, making a bed...well, you get the picture. I used to volunteer to go to the OR, or to do a special project, or anything but patient care.

    I started to work in the NICU during my junior year, and that's where I stayed. I went straight to NICU after graduation (at a different hospital) despite everyone telling me that I needed to get my med/surg "skills" and put in a year as a med/surg nurse. My reaction--what for? I will never need those skills. I'd have lasted about 15 minutes on a med/surg floor. I admire the nurses who can do it, take care of adult patients with so many multiple problems and concerns, plus handling that type of load. But it's not for me.

    I worked in the NICU my entire nursing career. No regrets at all. We're all cut out for different things. I have also worked PICU, but generally just older babies and toddlers--many of them NICU grads.

    Good luck, and you'll be a great NICU nurse.
  10. by   KarenAR
    THANK YOU ALL so much. I had heard that before and needed to hear it again. (Stories of nurses who went straight into NICU and never looked back, so to speak.) I was just so down in the dumps yesterday after my 14-hour day of med-surg. (An extra hour on each end to try to prepare and then wrap-up, and still feeling at a loss...)

    I really do feel called to work with babies in some way, shape or form. I remember 8+ years ago when my first was born, I thought, babies are my calling!!! Since we could not afford for me to stay home and have 15 more babies of our own (ha!), at the time I considered going into child care. But we couldn't afford for me to only make $6/hour either. At the time I wasn't even considering nursing...but after years of pondering my career options, a light bulb went off and I realized that this is the way to go.

    I have absolutely no calling to work with adults. It's not that I have anything against them, even when they have ruined their own bodies with drugs, alcohol, diet, whatever. I simply don't have that pull that I have with babies. And it's that "pull" or "calling" that I need in order to feel motivated to learn everything I can about every condition that affects that patient population. I want to know everything there is to know about these babies, and help the parents know how to deal with these things. I'm also really interested in one day doing home visits with new parents to help them optimize their children's health and development.

    Just needed to be reminded there was that light at the end of the tunnel....

    So, THANK YOU!!!
  11. by   iceNICUnurse
    I hate med-surg and psyc.
    Just cant think of changing diapers on grown up people...yukk!!!
    And all the complaining and ringing the bell all the time...I would go crazy!
    I went straight to NICU and have no plans on going anywhere.
    I just LOVE my babies and their parents and everyting.

    Just wanted to tell you that I know how you are feeling.

    Love iceNICUnurse!
  12. by   peaceful2100
    I REALLY hope you get a job in NICU. I also REALLY want NICU and I graduated back in May however that did not work out that way so for now I am stuck in Med-Surg. I am on my 4th week and I HATE it with a passion. It is hard for me to go in and I come home crying after every shift and I am just really depressed that i am stuck on something that I really, really don't like. However, I am giving it my best and treat every patient like I would want my daughter and my loved one's to be treated.

    I am definitely planning on making a transfer in 6 months when I am elgible and hopefully there will be a position available.

    However, I must admit I am learning a WHOLE lot on the med-surg unit I am on. It is incredible how much I have learned in just 4 weeks.
  13. by   KarenAR
    Originally posted by peaceful2100
    It is hard for me to go in and I come home crying after every shift and I am just really depressed that i am stuck on something that I really, really don't like. However, I am giving it my best and treat every patient like I would want my daughter and my loved one's to be treated.
    That's how I feel too - I dread going in and then I feel just so depressed when I come home. Thankfully I am done with it after two more days of this clinical, and thankfully I only have to take 3 (rather than 6) patients. I am so sorry that you are stuck there for six months...but I'm glad you are learning a lot. I hope the time passes quickly and you can get into NICU right away! Best of luck to you with that. I would like to hear how it goes...
  14. by   llg
    Oooo.... forgot to say earlier,

    I have coordinated RN orientation in a couple different NICU's for about 15 years of my career. Those orientees coming from an adult med/surg background have very little advantage (if any) over new grads. They are usually a bit more mature and able to organize/prioritize their care a little better, but that's balanced out by the fact that they often feel "worse" than new grads emotionally because they have come from a place where they have grown comfortable (med/surg) and find themselves in a place where very little translates. They have to go back to being beginners again, and many people hate that.

    Good luck,