Jump to content

NICU Precepting


I've been given an amazing opportunity to do my precepting rotation in the NICU as an ADN student. We studied a decent amount about well baby care and assessment, but we really weren't exposed to much information about the NICU. I'm super excited to be given this chance to learn in such a specialty area, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what I could do to prepare myself for this experience.

Thanks in advanced for any tips.

Jolie, BSN

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 35 years experience.

Get a copy of Merenstein & Gardner's Handbook of Neonatal Intensive Care or AWHONN's Core Curriculum for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing to read and reference as needed.

Make a cheat sheet with norms of vital signs and common lab values to carry with you.

Ask your instructor or preceptor for a list of commonly used drugs in the NICU and familiarize yourself with them. Do students still make drug cards?

Prepare basic care plans for some of the common conditions you will see in your NICU, such as prematurity, respiratory distress syndrome, glucose instability, infection, as well as a surgical diagnosis or two, if your facility does neonatal surgery. Not all NICUs do.

This should keep you busy for a weekend, and is a good foundation on which to start. I used to precept students in the NICU, and loved doing it. No one expects you to know much in the beginning. By being prepared, you will give your preceptor confidence that you can be trusted. NEVER assume anything. Always ask before doing, and review charting before it is finalized.

Enjoy your experience.

NICU is highly specialized, the book that Jolie recommended is great - but don't overwhelm yourself by thinking you should read it all. Focus on the bigger / most important things to better understand and connect the dots..

I would recommend reviewing what is happening in utero (like circulation) (here is a great resource, I would watch all these videos (they are not too long or overwhelming : Meet the placenta! (video) |

Khan Academy ) ..

Also, review fetal status by gestational age (how does a 25 weeker differ from a 30 weeker or a 34 weeker; what milestones are typically accomplished around certain gestational ages or what are they most at risk of at certain gestational age).

Review respiratory function and respiratory distress, thermoregulation, nutrition, NAS..

I would also recommend getting a mini note pad (that fits into your scrub pocket) and taking little notes here and there; this technique helped me with noting the important details. Also consider making goals for yourself for each shift.. maybe start by shadowing and doing little tasks, then try to do VS, chart VS, do safety checks, do some of the basic care for infant, feeds, gradually ease into doing the assessment, form bonds with the families..

And ask questions!!! You are learning, so take advantage of this and ask questions.