Jump to content

Things to learn before the NICU


I am a second year nursing student and have gained my preceptorship in the NICU...

I am looking for tips on medications to know, procedures to be familiar with, lab values to engrain into my head etc. I only had one day in the NICU in my pediatric rotation but I ABSOLUTELY loved the environment. I feel like it's the place for me. I love the ICU setting and the NICU is so close to my heart due to family having spent months there. I want to get the most out of my preceptorship and really impress the NICU staff to hopefully land a job upon graduating. My connection that has been helping me with preceptorship has told me that she thinks it's highly possible. I am SO excited for the opportunity but I have to be the best I can be. I have a 4-month summer coming up in which I plan to review lots from med-surg/fundamentals/peds/OB but I also want to prepare for preceptorship. I was even looking into getting NRP certified but have been told it's too hard unless you already work with babies as a nurse (I am a CNA in L&D). I am looking for tips/cheat sheets/resources/books/anything you can recommend to me :)

Hopefully, one day soon, I can call myself a NICU nurse like all of you. I think it is so amazing what you do and I have the utmost respect for it.

Please and thank you!

Meds to know (a starting point)






-iron and vitamin D







At this point don't bother going over specific surgical diagnoses, if the NICU you are placed in does surgery just look them up as you go. Same with inotropes, your probably not going to be dealing with those right away if at all as a student.

common NICU diagnoses:


-apnea of prematurity



-neonatal abstinence syndrome


-hypoglycaemia in the newborn/infant of diabetic mother

-IVH and hydrocephalus


-gut prematurity/feeding intolerance

-transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN)

-chronic lung disease and BPD

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Not quite the same thing, but I got my ACLS before I graduated nursing school. Obtaining these kinds of certs before graduating and working with the patients full time is challenging, but it certainly isn't impossible. It just takes some studying.

I feel like getting my ACLS before graduating showed potential employers that I was serious about wanting to start in ICU. And my first job out of nursing school was indeed an adult ICU. I don't know if my ACLS was a factor in getting that job at all, but I feel like it couldn't have hurt.

Good luck!

babyNP., APRN

Specializes in NICU. Has 13 years experience.

I agree with calivianya. I took NRP during my last year of nursing school. I just had to prepare and study for it like any other nursing test- it was hard but absolutely doable. I think it really helped me stand out to my manager who hired me.

vintage_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 7 years experience.

I knew I wanted NICU and I did my NRP before I graduated...also the NICUs in my area require you to take a post-grad neonatal program to get hired...I started this program and was doing it as well as studying for the NCLEX at the same time. Got hired into the NICU right out of school! It is doable!