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NICU (Pros and Cons)

NICU   (812 Views 11 Comments)
by singlesunshine singlesunshine (New Member) New Member

70 Visitors; 2 Posts

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Hello everyone,

I'm currently a pre-nursing student attending at a community college. After watching Youtube videos about NICU, I want to be a NICU nurse. When I took  anatomy and physiology, I love learning about the baby. I think babies are adorable and precious in this world.  My goal is to become a travel NICU nurse. After I gain many years of experiencing NICU, I will go back to college to become a neonatal nurse practitioner!

What are the cons and pros being a NICU nurse?

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74 Likes; 4,821 Visitors; 370 Posts

Maybe you should consider volunteering in a NICU so that you can see what it is actually like.

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4 Likes; 6,367 Visitors; 152 Posts

There are lots of topics on the board with people discussing the good and bad. I only have 2nd-hand experience from what others have told me, but some of it is relative: since you're still pre-nursing some of the good and bad might not mean as much to you. The good of not breaking your back to clean a baby doesn't have a ton of weight unless you've tried to turn and clean an adult, for example. Friends told me the babies aren't on their call-lights all the time asking for a sandwich, coffee, or to help to the bathroom, but I didn't really appreciate that fact until I started working and my patient would call me for the littlest thing lol

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vintage_RN has 3 years experience.

5 Likes; 12,383 Visitors; 688 Posts

I agree with the above poster. The videos you watch about the NICU will paint it in the best light possible. All snuggles and babies and happy endings. Because no one wants to talk about the hard stuff. I would see if you can shadow in the NICU, so you can get a feel for what it’s really like. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NICU...I’ll probably work there forever...but it’s intense, scary, heartbreaking...yet incredibly fulfilling. 

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LilPeanut has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and works as a NNP.

212 Likes; 4,541 Visitors; 721 Posts

Most NICUs are not happy places. Lower level ones maybe, but tertiary centers? they are filled with sad stories and dying babies.  We have good endings too, but people who go into the NICU for cute little babies often find it is not the place for them. 

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YuHiroRN has 6 years experience as a BSN.

30 Likes; 1,736 Visitors; 58 Posts

I would certainly wait until you're 1) actually in the nursing program and 2)done rotations through the unit, before making such a claim, especially since your basis is a YouTube video. Just my 2 cents.

Pros: Lots of education for clueless parents. Even experienced parents are completely terrified of handling their tiny newborns, so it's always a pleasure to educate them on handling their ELBW carefully and developmentally appropriate. Another pro: I get my ICU juices going without throwing out my back (maybe developing carpal tunnel, though?). 

Cons: Not every baby gets to live, and lots of parents go through really stressful, traumatic experiences with their children. I've never cried over a baby, but I've cried plenty of times with moms deep in grief and trauma. Also, wondering how my super train-wrecked kid will be when they get older. That thought never really leaves me...

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vintage_RN has 3 years experience.

5 Likes; 12,383 Visitors; 688 Posts

4 hours ago, YuHiroRN said:

Also, wondering how my super train-wrecked kid will be when they get older. That thought never really leaves me...

I also wonder this a lot. One is my coworkers ex primary patients came back in to visit. He was born at 25 weeks and is 7 now. He has CP, severe autism, developmental delay, epilepsy, G tube etc. Not much quality of life. I wonder how many of my patients end up this way.

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LilPeanut has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and works as a NNP.

212 Likes; 4,541 Visitors; 721 Posts

On the flip side though, there are many that do far better than we would have ever expected. I don't remember the study exactly, but it looked at RN vs MD prognostication, and MDs tended to be somewhat optimistic, and RNs tended to be very pessimistic.  I think it's a feature of being at the bedside constantly.

That's not to say we don't have terrible outcomes too, but they sometimes are not as bad as we would initially guess.

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a NICU RN.

223 Likes; 1 Follower; 30,799 Visitors; 3,237 Posts

21 hours ago, vintage_RN said:

I also wonder this a lot. One is my coworkers ex primary patients came back in to visit. He was born at 25 weeks and is 7 now. He has CP, severe autism, developmental delay, epilepsy, G tube etc. Not much quality of life. I wonder how many of my patients end up this way.

Maybe I am callous, but I do not think about my patients after they leave. I have coworkers that are Facebook friends with parents and can tell you details about a patient and what room they were in 3 yrs ago, that is not me. I may have a personal attachment for the period that I care for them, but once they leave I focus on my next patient assignment.

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1,750 Likes; 4 Followers; 17,058 Visitors; 2,531 Posts

3 minutes ago, NICU Guy said:

Maybe I am callous, but I do not think about my patients after they leave. I have coworkers that are Facebook friends with parents and can tell you details about a patient and what room they were in 3 yrs ago, that is not me. I may have a personal attachment for the period that I care for them, but once they leave I focus on my next patient assignment.

I don’t call that callous. I call that having healthy boundaries. 

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vintage_RN has 3 years experience.

5 Likes; 12,383 Visitors; 688 Posts

23 hours ago, NICU Guy said:

Maybe I am callous, but I do not think about my patients after they leave. I have coworkers that are Facebook friends with parents and can tell you details about a patient and what room they were in 3 yrs ago, that is not me. I may have a personal attachment for the period that I care for them, but once they leave I focus on my next patient assignment.

I don’t wonder about any particular patient, but I do wonder generally from time to time how our patients fair in life after they leave us, and what effect our interventions leave on them in the long term.

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