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Normal new grad feelings or not feeling NICU?

newtonicu newtonicu (New) New Nurse

Specializes in NICU.

Hi I am a new grad who landed her dream position in a level IV NICU. I had been a volunteer cuddler, and a tech on a busy med surg floor all through nursing school. I had a bunch of great job offers, the one that I accepted in NICU and two in adult ICUs and I really struggled making a decision because I felt passionate about both specialities. I recently passed the NCLEX and I am finding myself bored on orientation. We do level 1-2 training for a year and then we are going to learn 3-4. There is obviously a lot to learn and it is a whole other population and I am probably offending people by saying I am bored but it's true and I worked on a dumpster fire of a unit as a tech and got used to that pace. I don't like PO feeding and I didn't picture myself feeding 12 bottles every shift and I'm not even sure I like higher acuity babies. I cant tell if I am struggling to adjust to a post grad lifestyle (going from working, volunteering, being in nursing school and being in a sorority to just working), the current pandemic causing me to only leave my house to go to work, if I am bored in the NICU or if its all of the above. I want to do travel nursing ASAP like right now if I could, but I know I need 2 years experience so I don't want to waste any time because whatever I work for 2 years in I will do traveling. Part of it is probably because it's such a massive unit and we staff multiple areas and it's hard to get to know anyone so I haven't made many friends yet. At the same time, I am not sure I am ready to give up baby snuggles when I have extra time.

 

I guess what I'm asking is, is there anyone out there that didn't immediately love the pace of NICU but grew to love it?

babyNP., APRN

Specializes in NICU.

How long have you been doing the Level 2 care?

It's too bad that you have to wait a whole year to do the Level 3/4 babies because if you don't like bottle feeding, then you probably won't grow to really like Level 2 care- that's a significant portion of the daily job. Level 3/4 babies can be busier and keep you on your feet running around the shift which a lot of NICU nurses like. 

Hard to say what to do in  your case, again it's too bad that you can't get a taste of what the sick babies are like to see if you like doing that more. For me, I thought I liked taking care of adults okay (was on a trauma surgery floor as a tech in nursing school) until I got to the NICU and it was night and day for me, like seeing color after having lived in shades of gray, I didn't know what I was missing. So it would be an easy decision for me, but sounds like it might be different for you.

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU.

Fortunately for the babies and unfortunately for those of us who love high acuity babies, high acuity babies are rare. Majority of the babies you will care for are preemies, gut kids (gastroschisis, NEC), RDS, NAS. The HIE and complex heart babies are rare. 

newtonicu

Specializes in NICU.

On 7/19/2020 at 4:30 PM, babyNP. said:

How long have you been doing the Level 2 care?

It's too bad that you have to wait a whole year to do the Level 3/4 babies because if you don't like bottle feeding, then you probably won't grow to really like Level 2 care- that's a significant portion of the daily job. Level 3/4 babies can be busier and keep you on your feet running around the shift which a lot of NICU nurses like. 

Hard to say what to do in  your case, again it's too bad that you can't get a taste of what the sick babies are like to see if you like doing that more. For me, I thought I liked taking care of adults okay (was on a trauma surgery floor as a tech in nursing school) until I got to the NICU and it was night and day for me, like seeing color after having lived in shades of gray, I didn't know what I was missing. So it would be an easy decision for me, but sounds like it might be different for you.

I've been doing level 2 for about 4 months.

I guess I just pictured this being a higher acuity than it is and not really what I was looking for. I am not ready to give up on NICU yet. I love attending deliveries but if I were to move to L&D my focus would be on the moms and a lot of units require at least a year of experience.

newtonicu

Specializes in NICU.

On 7/20/2020 at 6:00 AM, NICU Guy said:

Fortunately for the babies and unfortunately for those of us who love high acuity babies, high acuity babies are rare. Majority of the babies you will care for are preemies, gut kids (gastroschisis, NEC), RDS, NAS. The HIE and complex heart babies are rare. 

Exactly the way I described it to someone else. Fortunately for the babies but unfortunately for adrenaline junkies most of the kids in there just need help breathing and eating.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Obviously, I don't know you and might be completely wrong about this ... so take it with a grain of salt.

You sound like you are simply not a "baby person."   Some of us love NICU not because of the acuity and intensity, but because we like babies.   It sounds like you are not really into babies -- and perhaps found level IV NICU attractive because of the intensity/acuity.   You would be just as happy in an adult ICU or ED.    Me?   I would be miserable in adult or ICU, but my NICU interest was based on an attraction to neonates.    I liked the intensity, but also loved the cute little faces ... and toes ... fingers,   the smooth skin, little tiny baby butts,  etc.   I can go on and on about all the things I love about newborns, especially preemies.   And I am an old, jaded nurse in my 60's, not some newbie.   Now that my career has taken me out of the NICU, I miss the babies and still "ooooo" and "ahhhh" sometimes when I see a cute one.

If that is the case, then you might be happier in an environment such as a level 1 trauma setting ... or adult ICU ... some place where it is intense and high drama all the time.    Most NICU's (even level IV's) have periods of calm and stable patients interspersed in the midst of some high intensity and drama.  In fact, the blend of the two is considered emotionally more health for the staff -- to have periods of "rest" mixed in with periods of high stress.   That mixture and balance helps us to stay in the NICU for a long period of time and not get burned out.  Units that are high intensity for every shift tend to me more like battle zones -- and often experience staffing problems, interpersonal conflicts, etc. because of the constant stress that the staff is experiencing.

babyNP., APRN

Specializes in NICU.

Loved this post llg! #1, 2, & 3 reasons for me to be in the NICU are that I love   babies! OP, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't work in the NICU of course, but maybe just do some soul searching to see if it's what you truly want. 

Really liked the adult ICU comparison, hadn't thought about it that way but yeah we seem to have more "lifers" than the average nursing field and maybe that is partially why.

HyperSaurus, RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU.

Not all NICUs are run that way (where new grads/new to specialty nurses are pigeon-holed into level 2 babies until they've proven themselves). Even then, you'll find that NICU is an odd mix of super-stable feeder growers (even in a level 4 unit), super critical babes, and stably sick kiddos. It's pretty rare for me to have 12 bottles in a shift. Give it time and don't be afraid to try a different NICU. 

newtonicu

Specializes in NICU.

I think I have finally realized it is more about the unit culture than the NICU itself. When I wrote that I wasn’t even getting higher acuity level 2 babies I was only having feeder growers for over half of my orientation. It’s a bad work environment for me, there are 30 new grads starting in a 3 month period so there’s a bit of a retention issue. I have seen nasty text messages about me on my preceptors work phone from management when I answered a call from the charge nurse. I am not getting any feedback until I meet with my manager who wasn’t there for whatever they are talking about. If I do things the way one preceptor likes the next preceptor thinks it’s completely wrong and that I am unable to be on my own. My boss (who I have met twice) has just been really rude to me and telling me that I am shy and quiet and a slow learner and I have never been described as any of those things before in my life.
 

I appreciate all of your comments! I am definitely a baby person and I think that’s why I have stayed as long as I have because I love the babies and deliveries but I can’t stay in a unit where I don’t feel supported and where I am constantly berated without having my side of the story heard before I get yelled at. I don’t feel as if it should be solely my responsibility to find my own learning experiences as a new grad that should be the job of my preceptor and charge nurse as well as myself, and at my old job if there were orientees on the floor we would go get them if we had anything exciting. 
 

I think I also made someone mad because the ‘lifers’ got mad when I put blue linens on a baby girls warmer because I was ‘confusing her gender from an early age’ and that didn’t sit well with me. There have been other racist remarks that were unsettling and I don’t think that this NICU is the right environment for me. 
 

Thank you all for your comments!

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