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NICU vs MedSurg

migo1234 migo1234 (New) New

Hi fellow nurses,

I am a new grad, and was recently offered a position in MEDSURG and NICU. I'm having a really hard time deciding which one to accept. MEDSURG is a broad unit, which I feel would be a great start to my nursing career. And NICU is specialty unit, so I'm not sure if this is the best choice to go with initially.

Please help! And thank you in advance :)

Sounds like you made your decision! :)

Thank you for replying! I guess I'm feeling very confused! And I want to be 100% sure with my decision.

I understand completely. Im only in my first semester of my program. Whatever you decide will be awesome and the right one for you.

Lennonninja, MSN, APRN

Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery.

Do you really want to work with babies and work ICU? If so, go with NICU. If you don't, go with med/surg. Both will get you valuable experience, but you need to decide what the end goal is to decide where you should start.

Also, congrats! :)

Edited by Lennonninja

excited 1, thank you :)

Lennonninija, thank you. I've heard that MEDSURG is a great unit to start with, but that it can be very stressful and busy! I am ready for the challenge. And I'm not sure if I want to work with babies. However, I've been told that it is a great experience working in NICU. They are both completely different units!

Where are they hiring new grads into NICU, I've been applying at local hospitals near me but it seems most don't hire new grads into the NICU


Specializes in Cardiac Cath Lab.

NICU all the way. Way harder to get into. Easier on your body. Surreal and amazing.


Specializes in NICU, Acute Rehab, Med/Surg, Quality.

NICU is a hard unit to get into for seasoned nurses. You are a new grad. This opportunity does not come along often because most people stay in NICU once they get there. I was there for 14 years. Med/Surg is good for learning but you can learn it later if you decide NICU is not for you. I was also a Med/Surg Nurse, Charge Nurse, Supervisor, and Manager after I left NICU and it is a "hard" place to work. It is probably the most tiring job of any other type nursing short of ED.

AnnieOaklyRN, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ED, Pedi Vasc access, Paramedic serving 6 towns.

I would say go with the NICU, like the other posters have said, it is a very hard area to get into! This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, medsurg jobs in comparison are a dime a dozen and if you don't like NICU it will be easier to get a medsurg job versus the other way around!


I say go with medsurg based on the fact that you said you are not sure you want to work with babies. Medsurg will give you solid experience and it is not impossible to switch specialties. Ask to do a share day in the NICU also. This will give you more insight.

My personal take is go to NICU. I run across burnt out, miserable Med/Surg nurses all the time. The NICU nurses I've run across all love their jobs.

Also, NICU is hard to get into. If you don't like it, you will be able to get a Med/Surg position easily, but it doesn't work the other way around. Once you're in Med/Surg, the powers that be try to keep you there because there is such a high turnover of nurses. About the only ways I've found to get out is to go to Critical Care or get more education and become an NP. (I am sure some people have had good luck switching specialties, just not the people I know.)


Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice.

I vote for NICU. Med surge will always take you back.


Specializes in family practice and school nursing.

NICU for all the reasons listed above


Specializes in Pediatrics, High-Risk L&D, Antepartum, L.

If you want NICU...do it. But if you sit there and think "I don't want to do babies" or "and ICU setting isn't for me" then don't do it.

There's no harm in going right into a specialty...if that speciality is where you want to work. If you don't see yourself as a NICU nurse...walk away from it.

ThePrincessBride, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU.

NICU RN is my dream job, but obviously I am bias. However...

Turnover in med-surg is high. I just finished up my preceptorship in a med-surg unit, and all the nurses there are miserable and are looking to switch to other floors. NICU nurses, on the other hand, are there for life, or until they finish up their NP programs. NICU Nurses experience less burn out and on-the-job injuries.

Just something to think about. You can always go into med-surg later, but transitioning from adults to babies is very difficult.

I would go into the NICU unless you KNOW you don't want to work with those tiny little babies and/or you know the ICU setting is not for you. Both are stressful, they just are stressful in different ways. Good luck with whichever you choose.

mushyrn, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical care.

It really depends on what population you want to work with. Do you want to help babies only, or the whole age spectrum? On my med/surg unit we get babies to elderly, depending. Also, med/surg is very busy but it really helps building your time management skills. You can always change later if you want.


Specializes in Telemetry, OB, NICU.

Just because a job is hard to find doesn't make it a right choice for everybody.

Don't go into an area where you will be miserable. Who cares if it is hard to find if you don't like it for yourself?

Think about what you want to do in the long run. IF you want to do NICU eventually, Med-surg experience won't really help you other than general skills like time-management and stuff. But if you don't want to work with babies, then don't. Take the med-surg position. I mean go with what you want to do.


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