Poll: What do you love about the NICU?

Specialties NICU


You are reading page 2 of Poll: What do you love about the NICU?

prmenrs, RN

4,565 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control.

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!


406 Posts

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.:)


876 Posts

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! :)


374 Posts

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. ;)



2 Posts

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.


57 Posts

Specializes in NICU (Level 3-4), MSN-NNP.

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.


67 Posts

I love the fact I can hold them and cuddle them when their situation is less than perfect and bond with parents as their little progresses onward. NICU is the best! I just love those babies. They are so resilient and strong despite their fragile appearance.


2 Posts

I cannot tell you all how excited you just made me! I have been struggling with the idea of a career change into nursing (master's NP or second-degree bachelor's RN) but I do know that I want to work NICU. Reading all of your replies just rejuvenated me after a long day of wondering "is going back to school really worth it?" Now I'm ready to call every school I know and say "let me in!!!" If only it wasn't 1:00 in the morning! Thank you to all for giving me that little push over the edge! :)


14 Posts

Specializes in neonatal.

this is so motivational! I just found this and showed my manager and she wants me to print off some of the replys to put in our break roomm to motivate the nurses!

its good to forget the politics for a while and just remember WHY we chose to be nurses... it wasnt about bits of paper and personal kudos etc, it was to care for these little babes... thanks for making me remember!


52 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

I agree with whomever said the NICU is a "calling". I have been working in the NICU for 16 years and love every minute of it. There's not a shift that goes by in which I don't learn something. It's a fast paced, ever-changing, mentally challenging, emotionally taxing place to work. There's great reward in witnessing a tiny infant being brought into the world requiring a multitude of wires and monitors and medications to survive and being able to participate in it's journey to stability and ultimately (in most cases) discharge! (I have often heard parents speak of the NICU nurses as "angels") I adore the teaching aspect of the job as well. I always feel "respected" when I tell people what I do. It is an amazing place to work but it is not for everyone, that's for sure. My sisters are nurses as well in different areas and we have commented that we couldn't handle working in each other's specialties.

Not so nice things about the job is 1) the death that occurs pretty regularly from infections, extreme prematurity, discontinuation of support for poor prognosis. Also, 2) an ethical dilema that occurs within myself when I care for a baby who is so obviously NOT meant to live yet we are supporting it's "life" based on parent's wishes. Talk about frustrating.

Anyway...good luck in the NICU!


6 Posts

I work in the nicu and cannot imagine working anywhere else. I've just finished my orientation and have fallen in love. I love how you have everything right at your fingertips - how you're not running all around from patient to nursing station........It can be scary - because its a critical area to work but there are doctors and RTs on the unit 24/7. I still have so much to learn - but am totally enjoying the whole learning experence. I feel like I have more control - and am better able to plan my day; compared to working on a medical or surgical unit. Suctioning adults totally grossed me out - but its not nearly as gross with babies - not gross at all - The gross things aren't as gross as with adults. (I'm totally not sounding professional :rolleyes: ) Again.....I couldn't work anywhere else!!!


1 Post

I have been a NICU nurse for 6 years. As I have read, many of the reasons nurses love to work in the NICU are the same for me. It is a job you either love or hate, I have seen a few nurses drop out of our orientation...I work in a level 3 where we have feeders to ECMO and everything in between. There is something amazing about the drive to survive when you see the perfectly formed features of a baby not much more then a pound, and it is a gift to send that baby home with his/her family. I have had the fortune to work with some gifted and compassionate doc /nnps... I have watched families connect in the most basic ways to a child that is hooked to many machines and thier lives dependant on minute by minute interventions. I have held the hand of a mother who had to withdraw support from her child, and held a dying child so they are not alone. I have been lucky, the smiles I have at work far outweigh the tears... the successes outnumber the loss. But each day is different, each infant is different, and each family is different. It is an area where you get to be a much bigger part of your patients lives...they are not there for a few days, weeks...some are there for months (we recently had a baby turn 1). I feel priveliged each time I attend a delivery...and blessed when that baby is healthy and I can hand it back to mom. I am amazed at the technical advances made day to day and the changing of the care we provide, but it is the human contact that makes me love my job.

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