A NICU or neonatal nurse is trained to provide Nursing care to newborns who are either normal or suffering from cases ranging from prematurity to birth defects.
They also provide additional assistance to mothers during delivery and breastfeeding. And because newborn babies aren’t capable of telling how they feel, NICU nurses are responsible for honing their observational as well as critical thinking skills.
If you want to specialize in NICU Nursing, there are some things you need to know before embarking on the training process. Just like any other Nursing specialty, neonatal Nursing has its good and bad sides.
Remember, you’re caring for newborn babies who are one of the most unstable patients you’ll ever come across, so proper training and conditioning are crucial.
If you think you have what it takes to become a NICU nurse, then learn the pros and c0ns of taking this very demanding role. Here are some of them:
Less Physical Stress
Compared to others, NICU Nursing tend to be less physically demanding. This is because as a neonatal nurse, you’ll be dealing with newborn babies who are significantly lighter than adult patients.
In other words, you’re going to spend less time lifting and transferring patients and more time standing and carefully observing babies inside the incubators.
Job Stability and Satisfaction
Job outlook for nurses, including NICU nurses, has always been very positive. In fact, average annual growth for registered nurses has been projected to be 23% from 2006 to 2016.
Opportunities for career growth also await neonatal nurses who can take additional training, education,and experience to earn higher positions ranging from unit manager to chief nurse.
Although the critical demands of NICU Nursing can sometimes be emotionally taxing, nurses in this specialty can also enjoy emotional fulfillment, especially when they see newborn babies transform from very ill patients to healthy ones because of their own efforts.
Overwhelming Pressure At Work
Nurses who struggle to show grace under pressure will find NICU Nursing too demanding of a career. Again, newborn babies are one of the most unstable patients and if you’re caring for someone who is critically ill, round-the-clock monitoring can be very physically demanding.
Requires Mental Agility
As a NICU nurse, you must ensure accurate medical dosage and calculations at ALL times.
Infants can also develop complications without warning and they solely rely on your skills and judgment to recover quickly.
As a nurse who has all these babies’ lives on your hands, you’re responsible to think quickly but accurately, and regularly assess your patients for any warning signs of complications.
It’s Emotionally Stressful
NICU nurses face a lot of emotional stresses during their shifts. For example, a baby you once thought was stable could collapse into a coma and die without any warning. You will also be dealing with family members who are just as stressed out as your patients.
If you can’t handle all these pressures at work, then you can try other options like working in a nursery for normal infants or other Nursing fields.
Nursing ethics is always at work when you’re a NICU nurse. More often than not, you’ll face ethical dilemmas that you can’t easily settle by just relying on Nursing books.
Unclear ethical issues like deciding when to let go a critically ill patient often start conflicts between nurses and the patient’s family. If you can’t stand dealing with these type of ethical issues at work, then better find another Nursing field that suits your expectations.