NICU vs. Peds ED


Hi everyone!

I'm very close to finishing my nursing program and I recently completed my Peds ED rotation. My clinical site is the pediatric trauma center for the state of Maryland (level 1) so I had the opportunity to see A LOT and I had an amazing learning experience. Prior to starting the peds rotation, I was really interested in the NICU but now I feel really passionate about both areas (Peds ED & NICU).

I am looking to hear from nurses who have worked in the Peds ED, NICU, or both. If you have any pros and cons, I would love to hear them! I know these two areas are very very different and require different skill sets, however, I am still interested to hear about nurses' personal experiences.

I will also be practicing in the state of New York so if you've worked in either unit in NYC, please share!

Thank you in advance & I appreciate your time/responses ◡̈

adventure_rn, BSN

1 Article; 1,550 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

Hmm, they are vastly different nursing 'styles,' so it will probably depend most on what you actually like to do. In the ED you see new people and diagnoses every day and don't know what you're going to get. In the NICU, things are generally extremely predictable and organized. I always loved NICU and dreaded ED because I'm a control freak and like to be familiar with all of the main diagnoses, know all of the patients, and be able to plan exactly what to expect on my shift; conversely, I knew ED nurses who found the NICU boring for these reasons. Similarly, NICUs tend to care for the same kids for several months on end; you really get to know the families closely, which is usually a blessing but can sometimes be a curse. It's just so different from the ED. I truly cannot imagine two more different specialties.

You should start by thinking about what specific things you have enjoyed in the ED and in peds in general--well kids, critically ill kids, working with families, seeing a broad spectrum of diagnoses? It's hard to advise you without knowing what you're looking for. If you thrive in the peds ED, you might actually prefer L&D or the PICU over NICU.