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Poll: What do you love about the NICU?

Posted

I'm a nursing student with not too much farther to go. (YEAH!). I'm giving serious thought to starting in the NICU post-graduation. From what I have observed, it just seems to be the right fit for me. We get a 6 week preceptor-ship right before we graduate, so I'm hoping I'll be fortunate enough to get one of the limited NICU slots. I was just wondering why all of you love NICU nursing as opposed to general med-surg floors, peds, adult ICUs, ED, etc.... Also, what do you NOT like about the NICU? I just want to make sure I'm making the right decision here. TIA!

Edited by Joe V
format

I love working in an intensive care area where I am responsible for my 2 patients and do everything for them. I think NICU is unique in that it really blends family care with the technology of intensive care very well. I love being able to follow a baby from very sick until discharge. I like seeing the parents progress to the point where they are really able to care for their child. Sometimes their extended stays can be a bad thing though if the family is really challenging. (Yeah, that's right, I said it. Some families are hard to deal with and it can be really draining). I just feel this is a rewarding area, even when the outcomes aren't great. The experience that I think has been the most meaningful for me as a nurse was looking after a baby that died.

I love the fact that every single thing that I do for that baby matters.... I love the hi tech atmosphere... I love being respected and made to feel necessary by the docs...I love being actually asked by the docs "what do you think we should do for this kid?" and them actually take my advice.... I love making a scared parent feel more at ease with just looking at their frail infant.......I love when a tiny microchip that I helped care for, is a chubby lil one, on full feeds, going home to their family......I love working alongside some of the best docs in neonatal medicine in the country...I also dont mind not ever being allowed to float (we can NEVER spare nurses).... I love telling people what I do, and really sensing their admiration.....I love the overtime in my paycheck, which there is plenty of........I love having a doc around 24/7 365, (not so in so many areas of nsg).I love having just 2 pts to focus on.......I also love going to the feeder grower room sometimes where I can wrap a baby like a burrito and feed her a bottle... and think... "I get paid for this, it doesnt get any better"......I love that I am entrusted with caring for these babies, I truely feel priveleged. I love that my borderline OCD is actually a good thing at work!!!:chuckle ..........I love that I never have to work adult med/surg....I love that I love it so much!!!!!:rolleyes: Almost everybody I ask, knew right away this is where they wanted to be. NICU isnt a place that can "grow" on you....I believe its a calling. It's scary, and if your not scared, then watch out... you -dont- know- what- you -dont- know!!!! Good luck, in getting the NICU spot... my school never had that option........

NoCrumping--I couldn't have said that any better. When I go to work, i am amazed at how I fall in love with my job all over again. where else can we go and one day have the sickest baby in the unit, and the next day, pick up a baby and feed it a bottle and cuddle--Life just doesn't get any better!! and on top of it all--we get paid for having a job that we love!!

I agree with a lot of the things No Crumping and Fergus said.

PLUS, there are some practical things.

1.) All my babies, even when I am caring for too many, are right there in front of me. My assignment is within 10 to 20 feet of walking from one end of the assignment to another.

2.) I can pick up most of my patients with one hand....lifting a patient has never thrown my back out. Although I did wrench it pushing a stubborn radiant warmer once.

3.) The smells--as in they really aren't that bad. Some of the chronic BPD babies get "the funk." that smell that no amount of baby wash can get rid of. Oh they might smell ok for a couple of hours but by the end of the shift it returns. Most of the poop isn't bad unless they're on high cal or study formulas. No comparison- baby ostomy vs. an adult.

cswain, absolutely nowhere!!!! I am sure of it......every nurse loves NICU.... most just dont know it yet.....lol :p

Pretty much everything No Crumping said. I love the fact the docs are availabe 24/7. This is practically unheard of in other areas of nursing. IF we do have to float, it's only to Pedi/Well-Baby nursery or OB. All of the NICU nurses I work with seem to really like their job.

We recently had a few leave because they moved out of state, not because they disliked thier jobs. Turnover can be sort of high among newer people. Like we get a whole slew of new grads that want to work NICU because they "love babies" then discover that alone is not a good reason. But the ones that really like it tend to stay long term.

I really like where I work but won't stay there forever because we are a level 2 (a little more than a level 2...we have vents but not quite enough stuff to be level 3) and will not expand anytime soon. I want to broaden my range of experience. And if I go to school for my NNP, I will need level 3 experience.

Ya know what? I dont even know whateven DREW me to NICU... I mean, I love babies, but not more than most, I never had a child in the NICU, none of my family or friends had, I didnt even have a rotation there in nursing school... it wasnt even an option.....Its weird!!! I guess, not to sound corny, it was a "calling". I think I remember seeing a show or reading a nursing mag article or something, and I decided that was all I wanted to do....then I dove right into it all........

i agree with a lot of what people said--some of my thoughts to add:

1. even though it's intensive care, and it can get crazy, i still don't feel as overwhelmed as i did on other units. there are def. days when i can't eat, but more often than not i get time for breakfast, lunch, etc. which is always nice, and i can plan my day better.

2. i like being able to assess my babies and do work with them while still chatting away with my bay or room mate.

3. i like being part of the experience of a parent getting to connect with their baby for the first time, and that feeling of fulfillment. handing a new dad his baby to hold for the first time after seeing his baby so sick, and seeing the tears form--it's an awesome feeling.

4. and the best part, and this may sound cheesy, is the calm or feelings of peace i get when working with a baby all day. to see those big eyes looking up at you, trying to figure the world out it looks like-can't beat that! that's what i'll miss when i go to grad school, but that is also why i plan on working per diem!

5. i love people's reactions when i tell them what i do.

there are definitely days when it is so overwhelming, and even after doing your best for someone's child it's just not good enough, or we see sad cases, but my reasons above are just part of what makes me always tell people that i love my job :) t.

i agree with a lot of what people said--some of my thoughts to add:

1. even though it's intensive care, and it can get crazy, i still don't feel as overwhelmed as i did on other units. there are def. days when i can't eat, but more often than not i get time for breakfast, lunch, etc. which is always nice, and i can plan my day better.

2. i like being able to assess my babies and do work with them while still chatting away with my bay or room mate.

3. i like being part of the experience of a parent getting to connect with their baby for the first time, and that feeling of fulfillment. handing a new dad his baby to hold for the first time after seeing his baby so sick, and seeing the tears form--it's an awesome feeling.

4. and the best part, and this may sound cheesy, is the calm or feelings of peace i get when working with a baby all day. to see those big eyes looking up at you, trying to figure the world out it looks like-can't beat that! that's what i'll miss when i go to grad school, but that is also why i plan on working per diem!

5. i love people's reactions when i tell them what i do.

there are definitely days when it is so overwhelming, and even after doing your best for someone's child it's just not good enough, or we see sad cases, but my reasons above are just part of what makes me always tell people that i love my job :) t.

Wow, this is great to read!! I am pretty set on NICU, basically going to school just for this...like NoCrumping, I don't have any personal exp leading me there, I was def.not a NICU parent ( both my babies were BIG and late, dd by 2 weeks!!) I just feel drawn there...for all the reasons mentioned above.Thanks again!!

NICU RN-in-waiting....

I'm a new grad (actually graduate in 2 weeks). I was just offered a job in a NICU, and took it even though I'm scared to death! It was nice reading this thread. Reminded me why I wanted to do this in the first place! I guess I'd be scared no matter what unit I'd be working in. It's not like I just get thrown to the wolves. There's an intersnip and orientation....so hopefully I'll be an excellent NICU nurse and will have love my job as much as all of you!

OH MY GOSH, you guys are bringing tears to my eyes. I am an ICU nurse who wants to transfer to NICU, I don't exactly know why, but I have always wanted to do this, but after reading this I can feel the love you all have for your job and I want to feel that. I have been doing ICU for 7 years now and have never worked in a facility with a NICU, but am moving to a new city in July and have now applied for a job in the NICU. Good Luck to you, I hope this has brought you as much insight as it has brought me.

prmenrs, RN

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control. Has 42 years experience.

There are so many good posts on this thread, I'm making it a sticky. Thanks to everybody for getting to the heart of the matter!

i agree with a lot of what people said--some of my thoughts to add:

1. even though it's intensive care, and it can get crazy, i still don't feel as overwhelmed as i did on other units. there are def. days when i can't eat, but more often than not i get time for breakfast, lunch, etc. which is always nice, and i can plan my day better.

2. i like being able to assess my babies and do work with them while still chatting away with my bay or room mate.

3. i like being part of the experience of a parent getting to connect with their baby for the first time, and that feeling of fulfillment. handing a new dad his baby to hold for the first time after seeing his baby so sick, and seeing the tears form--it's an awesome feeling.

4. and the best part, and this may sound cheesy, is the calm or feelings of peace i get when working with a baby all day. to see those big eyes looking up at you, trying to figure the world out it looks like-can't beat that! that's what i'll miss when i go to grad school, but that is also why i plan on working per diem!

5. i love people's reactions when i tell them what i do.

there are definitely days when it is so overwhelming, and even after doing your best for someone's child it's just not good enough, or we see sad cases, but my reasons above are just part of what makes me always tell people that i love my job :) t.

Awsome post!! Could not have said it better myself! I don't know what drew me to it either. No prior experience with NICU either work or personal, but I just love it. I'm constantly learning new things here and just get so much personal satisfaction from my job.

One thing I like best about it is that unlike other areas of nursing (telemetry, med-surg ect...) I don't feel as rushed. I feel like I can take the time and actually teach and do things for my patient and their family. Sadly when I worked telemetry and adults I felt so overwhelmed and rushed. Don't get me wrong...NICU is not a slow paced environment...you've got to be on top of things at all times. But somehow it's easier to manage when you only have 1-3 patients that are right there instead of 6-7 all over the place.

And it's definately easier on the back!:chuckle I also like the fact I know where my patients are at all times. I don't have the doctor yelling at me bacause he is making rounds and needs to speak with the baby and the baby is down stairs smoking a cigarette or has snuck down to the vending machines to load up on sugary snacks.:rolleyes: That is a big plus.:)

sddlnscp

Specializes in NICU.

Wow, this post was exactly what I needed. I am 26 and an urge that I have had since childhood to become a nurse has been nagging me so much that I have decided to pursue it. Ever since I found out about Neonatal nursing, I knew that is what I wanted . . . it is my dream. I have done tons (and I mean TONS) of research on what the job entails and I absolutely love it. I am just starting out (better late than never, right?) with my schooling - working on prereqs now (not even an RN yet, but headed that way), but I know that my ultimate goal is to become a NNP. I cannot imagine a more fulfilling place than one where you can make the difference in the life of an entire family, be it by the joy of helping a critically ill infant survive or by offering the support and love that they so desperately need when a tiny life cannot cope and comes to an end. Regardless, I know that this is what I am meant to do, it's what I was put here for and I cannot wait to get started. Thank you all for posting your replies to this thread, it gives me great joy to know that I am going into such a wonderful thing and, though it will take me many years and much discipline, it is well worth the effort put forth! :)

I'm only taking my prerequisites for nursing school at the moment, but I know that the NICU is where I want to be. It's the reason I'm getting my degree.

In March 2004, I gave birth to my son, Aaron Joseph, at 24 weeks. He weighed 1 lb, 11 oz, and was 13" long. He only lived for three days and died of Grade IV IVH. I'll never forget any of it, but particularly not his last day. We knew when the neonatologist came into my room that the news was not good. When we went into the NICU, you could see how swollen his head was from across the room. While we were standing beside his isolette, within a span of only 10 minutes, he had 4 seizures. One of the hardest things was to have to explain it to our then 6 year old daughter. To say the whole experience was difficult doesn't even begin to cover it. I'll always love and miss him.

I became pregnant very quickly, despite being on the pill and certainly not being ready. I gave birth to Cameron at 28 weeks on February 5, 2005, after spending more than a month in the hospital and after exhaustive efforts to delay his birth. He was as low as 2.5 lbs, and was 15" long. He came home in April, at 5 lbs, 13 oz, and is now a very chubby 11 lbs, 8 oz. Developmentally, he's doing very well. I am incredibly blessed!

I can't imagine being anywhere else other than the NICU. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel that is where I'm meant to be. I know it won't be easy, but nothing worth anything in life is. ;)

Tiffany

I'm a nursing student with not too much farther to go. (YEAH!). I'm giving serious thought to starting in the NICU post-graduation. From what I have observed, it just seems to be the right fit for me. We get a 6 week preceptorship right before we graduate, so I'm hoping I'll be fortunate enough to get one of the limited NICU slots. I was just wondering why all of you love NICU nursing as opposed to general med-surg floors, peds, adult ICUs, ED, etc.... Also, what do you NOT like about the NICU? I just want to make sure I'm making the right decision here. TIA!

I work in a level III NICU, started in a level II. When I went to school it was with the intention of working on an adult unit, but was offered a job as a student nurse on a term nursery/Level II NICU. After my two years there I knew that was where I wanted to practice. :) Why I love NICU nursing - I can't say it any better than already posted here :) .

The things I don't like about it:

Difficult families - You also get that on other units.

Difficult co-workers - You also get that on other units.

Hard to please Dr's. - You also get that on other units.

Administration decisions that make no sense - You got it, you also get that on other units!

The main thing I don't like about NICU is that when one of my patients die, it's a baby. Whenever a child is born it's supposed to be a joyous occasion and we as nurses are allowed to be a part of a very personal family moment. So whenever I feel overwhelmed and that my best wasn't good enough, I focus on the families that get to take their healthy babies home, because of the care that my co-workers and I have given to them.

LoveTheNICU

Specializes in NICU (Level 3-4), MSN-NNP. Has 6 years experience.

I too am a nursing student, and I am taking a job in the NICU after graduation next spring. This summer I am working as a nurse intern on my future unit- meaning I am performing all the skills of an RN but my work is supervised by a mentor- and I am IN LOVE... I love that because our patients are grouped by age alone,in one single shift I can be a cardiac nurse, a surgical nurse, a dialysis nurse and a neuro nurse, rather than having to have chosen any one. I love the supportive nature of everyone I work with, the NPs and doctors are fantastic about collaborating and explaining rationales for treatments and procedures. At the same time, they recognize that once you've spent a 12 hour shift with a baby, YOU are the one they should be asking about what he needs! I love that even when a baby is coding, the quiet calm and expertise of the staff takes over, so that other parents in the room may not even notice the commotion. I love watching the smiles on parents' faces when they kangaroo or their excitement when they notice changes in their child's condition ("Oh look, you weaned her vent settings!!!). I love teaching the parents, so soon they feel confident with all the tubes and monitors, or helping the first time a mother feeds her child. I love that over 90% of the time, we are sending the babies home with their parents... and that even when we can't, we know we have touched the life of a tiny child and her parents. The memorials and thank-yous, pictures of children all grown up and annual "graduate" picnics make it all worthwhile.

As far as what I dislike about the NICU... it is frustrating to have a critically ill baby with no family around to love it. Although I know sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, that makes me want to cry :crying2: and take the poor thing home with me (my boyfriend keeps reminding me that the hospital frowns on abducting babies :p ). I also worry about caring for a baby for months, who will go home on monitors and with specific feeding schedules and treatments, etc., and then handing it off to a 15-year-old single mother or some other situation that is, well, less than desirable for a child who requires such care. I know that is a generalization, but I have seen many bounce-backs to PICU when a family is unprepared for the responsibilities, regardless of the teaching we did.

All I can say is, go with your heart. If you feel NICU is for you, go for it. It is intense but also intensly rewarding.