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uh-oh, do I have the right personality for NICU??

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Specializes in NICU & OB/GYN. Has 2 years experience.

Hello lovely NICU nurses!

I have been accepted to do my final practicum at our Children's hospital level 3 NICU and when I shared my good news with my mother n' law she asked..."are you sure you have the right personality for that unit??" You see, she worked as a social worker for 30 plus years at this hospital and is familiar with the unit. Her impression was that you need to be a "very anal, type-A personality" to work here, to which I am not. She also said to me..."I always pictured you in emerg" and even though it's a little too late now, I had conteplated Children's emerg as well. In the end I chose NICU b/c of my curiousity for intensive care and I am really looking foward to that focused one-on-one patient learning.

So...now I am nervous. I know she means well but I am wondering maybe I don't have the right personality??

We have all different personalities in the NICU. Some very serious particular nurses and some gentle happy go-lucky type (me).

You will love the NICU. You will fall in-love with the babies and enjoy your day in a different way you would in ER. I believe the type of nurse you are molds your personality. An ER nurse has a different personality then a baby nurse. There is less attachment in the ER as you only usually see your pts for hours and in the NICU pts can be there for days or weeks and even months. You dont cuddle your ER pts but you get to cuddle your pts in the NICU!

You will find what you are looking for and if you arent happy...you can change depts...the beauty of nursing!

Shanlee79

Specializes in NICU & OB/GYN. Has 2 years experience.

We have all different personalities in the NICU. Some very serious particular nurses and some gentle happy go-lucky type (me).

You will love the NICU. You will fall in-love with the babies and enjoy your day in a different way you would in ER. I believe the type of nurse you are molds your personality. An ER nurse has a different personality then a baby nurse. There is less attachment in the ER as you only usually see your pts for hours and in the NICU pts can be there for days or weeks and even months. You dont cuddle your ER pts but you get to cuddle your pts in the NICU!

You will find what you are looking for and if you arent happy...you can change depts...the beauty of nursing!

Thank-you for the reassurance! I know what you mean. During school I have worked as a nursing assistant (health care aide) in our community hospital emergency department and got a glimpse of a day in the life of the ER nurse and though at first the quick-paced environment and the variety appealed to me by my 4th year, I already was recognizing that as a nurse, I would be unhappy with the lack of available time you spend with your patients. I guess I too am a happy-go-lucky type (that's a good way to put it..I was trying to think of a good description earlier), so I am glad that perhaps my MIL wasn't completely right.

Pmkn10RN

Has 8 years experience.

This is generalizing... but I feel like a lot of NICUs have too many nurses with type A anal personalities. It's refreshing to work with more relaxed, go with the flow type nurses :D. I'm anal in my personal life, but not at work...

BittyBabyGrower, MSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, educator.

I'd say the majority of us are the Type A ones lol We are pretty particular about keeping the beds clean, etc, you have to be particular about labeling things, being uber organized with the sickest kids. Guess sometimes you have to be that type because these little ones can't speak for themselves.

Get in there and give it a whirl!

Shanlee79

Specializes in NICU & OB/GYN. Has 2 years experience.

I'd say the majority of us are the Type A ones lol We are pretty particular about keeping the beds clean, etc, you have to be particular about labeling things, being uber organized with the sickest kids. Guess sometimes you have to be that type because these little ones can't speak for themselves.

Get in there and give it a whirl!

Thanks for your reply! You're right...I just gotta get in there and give it a whirl, no looking back now! I know that I am capable of demonstrating some of these traits given the right moment. Years ago, when I worked for a major airline and the 'you know what' hit the fan, a little type A came out in me in order to manage an organized chaos. Been awhile though, so hoping in time...that'll come out if needed.

aerorunner80, ADN, BSN, MSN, APRN

Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC. Has 8 years experience.

You will never know until you get there. It takes all different personalities to to make any unit work well.

I am a type A personality but I'm not a constant in-your-face-waiting-for-the-next-crisis type.

I'm very calm but at the same time I'm also ready if something happens. It's not worth getting yourself all worked up every time you come into work. One can't live under stress like that. It's not needed and it's healthy. You have to realize what area you are in and be extra careful in your assessment.

I think what it takes is someone who is not afraid to speak up for themselves and their patients no matter what kind of attitude comes at them. You have to keep in mind that at the end of the day, it's not about if you and so-and-so had a run in with each other, it's about if the right thing was done for your patient. If people get upset along the way, it happens. I have made it a point that even if someone is yelling, I will not yell back and I will stay professional. If you stay calm, that will get their attention a lot quicker than if you are yelling back at them.

Staying calm also makes it easier to think on your feet and if something is going on and everyone calmly talks to each other, that is when some pretty awesome teamwork gets done as well.

It also takes someone who is quick to think on their feet in a crisis. ----- To me this probably the most important thing to remember.

Kiddos are in the NICU for a reason and they can go bad at any moment.

It may seem like an insurmountable idea when you first get there. It did to me. But after being there a while (the time is different for everyone) you start to get to know the order sets and can anticipate what the docs are going to order and if they don't say it very soon you can "suggest" it to them. That happens a lot with our residents.

For example, when we get admissions, the fluids normally ordered are D10 with 4.5% AA (amino acids) if we are not going to be feeding right away. This is special order from the pharmacy and I will ask, most of the time before the baby even gets to the floor, if this is what they are going to order and then I go tell pharmacy that we are having a baby come up who is going to need it so that they can get working on it and our fluids come up sonner. Same thing with abx.

Shanlee79

Specializes in NICU & OB/GYN. Has 2 years experience.

You will never know until you get there. It takes all different personalities to to make any unit work well.

I am a type A personality but I'm not a constant in-your-face-waiting-for-the-next-crisis type.

I'm very calm but at the same time I'm also ready if something happens. It's not worth getting yourself all worked up every time you come into work. One can't live under stress like that. It's not needed and it's healthy. You have to realize what area you are in and be extra careful in your assessment.

I think what it takes is someone who is not afraid to speak up for themselves and their patients no matter what kind of attitude comes at them. You have to keep in mind that at the end of the day, it's not about if you and so-and-so had a run in with each other, it's about if the right thing was done for your patient. If people get upset along the way, it happens. I have made it a point that even if someone is yelling, I will not yell back and I will stay professional. If you stay calm, that will get their attention a lot quicker than if you are yelling back at them.

Staying calm also makes it easier to think on your feet and if something is going on and everyone calmly talks to each other, that is when some pretty awesome teamwork gets done as well.

It also takes someone who is quick to think on their feet in a crisis. ----- To me this probably the most important thing to remember.

Kiddos are in the NICU for a reason and they can go bad at any moment.

It may seem like an insurmountable idea when you first get there. It did to me. But after being there a while (the time is different for everyone) you start to get to know the order sets and can anticipate what the docs are going to order and if they don't say it very soon you can "suggest" it to them. That happens a lot with our residents.

For example, when we get admissions, the fluids normally ordered are D10 with 4.5% AA (amino acids) if we are not going to be feeding right away. This is special order from the pharmacy and I will ask, most of the time before the baby even gets to the floor, if this is what they are going to order and then I go tell pharmacy that we are having a baby come up who is going to need it so that they can get working on it and our fluids come up sonner. Same thing with abx.

Thanks for your reply! When my practicum advisor asked why I wanted the NICU, I told her that I wanna be kept on my toes and I wanna deal with "actual sick patients". lol. You see, I found in school, we were always assigned the most stable patients on the unit (understandably so) and so I found that I didn't get to apply alot of the theory we learned. Luckily, at 31 this will not be my first career.. I have the emergency response training and lots of experience dealing with stress (situations and people), so as I told my advisor, I am hoping this will help me survive NICU (as she says she is always hesitant about placing students in specialty areas for practicum). But what you mentioned is what I loved about both my med/surg pediatric rotations...so resilient, yet can turn on a drop of a dime. I found I learned the most during these rotations!

Oh and being able to use my big mouth for some good is also something I am looking forward to!! I have heard this about the NICU and that is an attraction for me as I found during school, standing up for my patients often labelled me a "troublemaker" and I quickly learned that even though we are taught to advocate...on many units it's more of a 'keep quiet and do what you're told' atmosphere.

NeoNurseTX, RN

Specializes in NICU Level III.

I am NOT type A and I'd rather NOT move around an unstable baby just to change the sheets.

I'm clean but I'm by no means anal.

NICU_babyRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU.

I've done ER and I LOVED IT. I also LOVE the NICU. I think you'll be just fine!

Shanlee79

Specializes in NICU & OB/GYN. Has 2 years experience.

I've done ER and I LOVED IT. I also LOVE the NICU. I think you'll be just fine!

Thanks for your reply! Interestingly, I have followed many threads on here where many have dabbled in both ER and ICU. Originally I was told that you are meant to be one or the other based on personality but it's reasurring to learn that isn't necessarily the case. I have always thought that I had strengths that could work well in either area, I guess I will find out soon enough..:D

aerorunner80, ADN, BSN, MSN, APRN

Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC. Has 8 years experience.

I am NOT type A and I'd rather NOT move around an unstable baby just to change the sheets.

I'm clean but I'm by no means anal.

Agreed!!!!!!!!!! If they are that sick, I'm not going to do that either!

BittyBabyGrower, MSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, educator.

Never said to move an unstable kid to clean up the bed, but when they are stable, a neat and clean bed goes a long way to make the family happy. There is a lot they can't control and it is a lot of years of experience that have shown if the baby looks clean and neat, the parents are a lot calmer. Same for the bedside.

The number one complaint I get as a charge nurse, besides parents telling me that the nurses tell them not to touch their kids (ok..so the kid sats like 10 when you get near the bed, but I digress) is that the baby looks awful when X nurse takes care of their baby. Translation...the bed and the baby are a mess.

littleneoRN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

I would not consider myself a total type A in my life in general. I am fairly flexible and willing to go with the flow in a lot of ways, which is actually very important in any area of nursing because things are always changing and sometimes you have to think outside the box to meet your patient's needs. So far flung Type As also struggle even environments that you think need to be very type A.

On the other hand, the longer I work in NICU, the more the anal I have become about certain things at work. I find my abilities to be flexible and go with the flow very important, but I've also learned to be quite anal with things like tangled lines, breast milk storage, etc. I've learned to be anal about these things because you don't want a line accidentally pulled out when you turn a patient...and if your baby goes sour you want to be able to easily identify what is where and where you can put in meds quickly. You have learn to be anal enough to care about things like being exact with small volumes or noticing small changes in your assessment. BUT...I developed all these things when I entered the nursing profession.

If you think you're completely incapable of being anal where you need to, then maybe ICU isn't for you. But then you have to think about where it's ok for a nurse to not deal with any details. (I propose nowhere?) If you think you tend to be flexible and go with the flow but can be detail-oriented when you need to...then welcome to NICU.

Shanlee79

Specializes in NICU & OB/GYN. Has 2 years experience.

I would not consider myself a total type A in my life in general. I am fairly flexible and willing to go with the flow in a lot of ways, which is actually very important in any area of nursing because things are always changing and sometimes you have to think outside the box to meet your patient's needs. So far flung Type As also struggle even environments that you think need to be very type A.

On the other hand, the longer I work in NICU, the more the anal I have become about certain things at work. I find my abilities to be flexible and go with the flow very important, but I've also learned to be quite anal with things like tangled lines, breast milk storage, etc. I've learned to be anal about these things because you don't want a line accidentally pulled out when you turn a patient...and if your baby goes sour you want to be able to easily identify what is where and where you can put in meds quickly. You have learn to be anal enough to care about things like being exact with small volumes or noticing small changes in your assessment. BUT...I developed all these things when I entered the nursing profession.

If you think you're completely incapable of being anal where you need to, then maybe ICU isn't for you. But then you have to think about where it's ok for a nurse to not deal with any details. (I propose nowhere?) If you think you tend to be flexible and go with the flow but can be detail-oriented when you need to...then welcome to NICU.

Thankyou...and nicely put! I think when the comment was said to me by my mother-in-law, I didn't know quite what to say as I was caught off gaurd. But the way you explained it was perfect! I am the type of person who is typically 'go with the flow', I never noticed this until an instructor complimented me on my adaptability and ability to remain composed under stress. I thought it was no biggie, but then again I didn't have many chances to compare myself to other students. I believe these traits are due to the maturity I bring with me.

Anywho...as I was saying, I am flexible but in a given situation, I enjoy being in control & on-top of things. I guess that's why I really enjoyed being a student--having only 1-2 patients, allowing the time to learn every detail and pick-up on things immediately. I think that is what drew me to the ICU, I couldn't see myself running around with 6-7 patients....so my hats off to floor nurses for sure!!

I think I was a little extra sensitive with my MIL's comment due to the natural jitters I am feeing, but I am feeling much more reassured that I may just be A-Okay afterall. Thanks again for your reply!