1. Hey Everybody,
    I'm trying to find out how many NICU's are using volunteers. What are they allowed to do? What kinds of rules, and regs do you have? What kind of background checks do you do?

    Thanks in Advance for you help.
  2. Visit LaNICUnurse profile page

    About LaNICUnurse

    Joined: Apr '06; Posts: 86; Likes: 5
    Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience in Peds, 1yr.; NICU, 15 yrs.


  3. by   prmenrs
    We used them as "cuddlers". The Volunteer Office took applications and screened them (same as other hospital volunteers, made them go to safety fair and other stuff) and scheduled them. There is/was a verrry long waiting list for cuddler slots.

    We oriented them to the unit. They diapered, fed and mostly held babies, esp the crabby ones. Most of them are "more mature" ladies, some gentlemen, grandmothers and grandfathers.

    They follow the same Infection Control proceedures we do, save the diapers for us to weigh, report how much the baby took, anything else they notice.

    Our volunteers were terrific! Believe me, we thanked them every day. There were a few nurses who didn't utilize them, but they were in the minority. When they walked in, we would "claim" them for our unhappier customers.
  4. by   BabyRN2Be
    I've been working as a "cuddler" in a local NICU for a short time now. We have been through the standard background check given the rest of the hospital volunteers.

    Since I had been working in L&D as a volunteer for the past 3 years, they were able to get me in a little sooner. I don't know for sure about a wait list but I know that they were not going to have a new training this year.

    We feed and change babies, mostly stable feeder/growers, give the baby Sweetease (if baby can have it), help find "lost" pacifers, and generally hold those who are stable and are fussy.

    I'm very grateful for this opportunity and I've found out that NICU is a whole different world!! When I went to work in L&D, I knew what to do. However, NICU is a world unto it's own and there's definitely a learning curve. When I left last week it seemed that I did a lot of things wrong. I decided to make a list of things I did right. I came up with 2: I remembered to take off my wedding ring before going into the unit and 2) I didn't kill anyone. I did pull off a few leads unintentionally though, but I had an understanding nurse right beside me.

    If anyone is interested in working in NICU, I suggest working as a cuddler to get an idea of what the NICU is like. I now have a whole new perception of the NICU and I'm so happy that I became a cuddler.
  5. by   LaNICUnurse
    How many do you have trained to work in the units? How many work at one time? Or, do you have any limits?
  6. by   krisssy
    Would you have a better chance of getting a cuddler job if you are a nurse?
  7. by   prmenrs
    We had them one @ a time scheduled from 8am to 10/11 pm. Anywhere from 2-4 hours. If it's quiet, they can "stock" diapers/linen, or run labs. IF they want to. Most of them want to help any way they can, but some just want to hold babies.

    Our list was 1st come 1st served, no cuts. OK, very rare exceptions. Really rare.

    We also kept a list of "subs". A cuddler was expected to find a replacement if they couldn't make their time. AWOL cuddlers are not good. The cuddlers are, for the most part, active retired folks. If they are going on long vacation somewhere, they find a long term replacement from the subs list.
  8. by   BabyRN2Be
    Quote from krisssy
    Would you have a better chance of getting a cuddler job if you are a nurse?
    No, not necessarily. I have my CNA but it doesn't make any difference to the volunteer department. I have told a few nurses I have my CNA and I've been allowed to do temps. As far as getting the placement, it's usually been first come, first served. And it depends on if they are holding a training for that year.

    I've seen the schedule, and I believe we only have one day that's more or less totally open and that's Saturday. All the other 4 hour slots during the week have been taken. Maybe there's one that is not taken, but most have someone working those hours.
  9. by   mabebu
    I am a volunteer at a NICU and have worked there a little over a month. My hospital isn't extremely organized (serious problems w/ the volunteer coordinator) but I agressively pursued the position. Just the standard volunteer background check was done and a TB test. Since they weren't expecting me on my first day (volunteer coordinator commmunication issues), I spent the first hour or so learning the phones. Then I was trained individually on how to take care of babies in the progressive unit (I don't deal with acute babies). I learned about infection control and changing the diapers, feeding, and relinquishing babies to mothers only after verifying matching bracelet numbers. I'm still getting the hang of it but I suppose it will become easier over time.

    The NICU where I volunteer hasn't had many volunteers and I get the impression that the few they have just come for feeding times but I come for longer periods and want to stay busy. So I take babies downstairs to their cars when they are released, I run labs, I answer phones/unlock doors, and I replenish supplies. I still feel underutilized but hopefully more nurses will take advantage of me being there as they get to know me.

    I have no set schedule--I come and go as I please though I have decided to go in every Sunday. I don't have a supervisor in the NICU so I walk around approaching people for things to do. This is my first hospital experience and I really love working there. As patients, the NICU babies are a great bunch!
  10. by   MegNeoNurse
    The volunteers at the hospital that I work at are all in highschool/teenagers. I am the unit secretary (I'm in nursing school working on getting on the other side!) and I just ask them to fold laundry from the laundry cart and put it on our personal supply, or if there is equipment that needs to moved.

    I know in the past that there have been volunteers (older women, not teenagers not employed by the hospital, I dont think) who have come in to cuddle babies whose parents (unfortunately) do not come to the unit to visit.

    Hope this helps!
  11. by   prmenrs
    We really preferred the older, CALMER volunteers. The babies usually needed LESS stimulation--we wanted them to sleep.

    When we had younger ones, they were more active, helping w/errands, supplies, cleaning, etc. We had one older lady who didn't like to sit still, so she helped the ancillary staff. After she had a severe illness, she was really disabled but wanted to come in and help, so we arranged for her to sit and cut up labels. She felt usefull, and we didn't have to do it. When she passed, she left the unit a sizeable endowment for a scholarship fund.
  12. by   krisssy
    Do you thnk a nurse who is inexperienced could go from volunteering as a cuddler etc. to being hired as a nurse?
  13. by   unikuelady
    I worked as a nicu "snuggler" for 4 years during which time I completed my prerequits for nursing school and during nursing school. I was married and had 3 school age children. I did my volunteer work when my schedule allowed it. There was extensive training given to all snugglers. Background checks, finger prints, TB testing, and 3 letters of recommendation were required. This process took me 6 months before I could even step into the unit!. All snugglers were required to work on the general pediatric unit with the child life specialist for 1 month min to be evaluated for suitability as an nicu snuggler. Then the Individualized training for the level III+ECMO nicu unit.
    Volunteers were not allowed to feed, change diapers or do any care other than hold the infants as directed by their primary nurse. I was shown how to care/calm the infants developmentaly as needed. i.e. gentle hands on containment of an irritable preemie in the isolette on a vent. How to "read" infants cues to as how much stimulation can be tolerated-when to hold and when not to hold. Parent care was also emphasized - what to say and not to say. This volunteer work helped me tremendously when I got my first job. At this facility we had a calender/schedule made up by the volunteer coordinator. The hospital preferred only 2 snugglers on the unit at a time, so by looking at the schedule we could fill in any blank times as we were able. Night shift snugglers were always welcome. I would also like to let you know that one of the most rewarding times I had as a snuggler was when I was given the opportunity to hold a dying infant. This particular infant was taken off life support and the mother held the infant for several hours and just couldn't do it anymore, so I was asked if I could take over. I held the infant for several more hours until I had to go home and take care of my own children. I found out later that night the infant expired while the nurse was holding him. From that experience I will not let any infant die without being held and loved up to the end.:kiss
  14. by   BaByLoVeR18
    Wow. I would really like to become a cuddler or snuggler but I am just 18 years old and I don't know if they will even allow me to hold a baby. I would like to volunteer and find out what it is like in the NICU before I apply to the unit.