Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
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The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) specialty attracts clinicians who are both compassionate, and dedicated to caring for our most vulnerable humans, babies. This specialty requires an emotional strength and focus to provide care for babies who are born preterm, babies born with defects, or babies born with infections or heart and lung issues.
What is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)?
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is part of the maternity ward in a hospital. The word neonatal is defined as the first month of a baby’s life. However, that doesn’t mean a NICU nurse’s duties stop once the infant has reached one month. A baby in the NICU is cared for until he or she can be safely discharged.
What Do RNs, LPNs, and CNAs Do in a NICU?
Nurses and nursing assistants are vital to a high functioning NICU. They must be able to provide support and answer questions of new parents. NICU nurses additionally will administer necessary medications to their patients, collaborate with other healthcare professionals, document meticulously progress gained or lost, and utilize cutting edge technology. Moreover, they will assist new mothers with breastfeeding, guide parents in caring for their baby’s unique needs, and educate parents in providing care in their own homes once their infant is discharged.
Where Can You Find NICU Jobs?
Most NICU nurses will find positions in hospitals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, while some NICU nurses find jobs in the maternity ward. Nurses and nursing assistants specializing in neonatal care can also find positions caring for discharged infants in homes, assisting parents, by working with in home health services. Occasionally, positions for NICU nurses are found on emergency transport teams.
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Recommended or Required Certifications
Supplementary certifications are often recommended and sometimes required by hospitals for this specialization:
- CCRN (Neonatal)
- RNC Certification for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC)
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
Characteristics of a Good Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse
If the idea of working with babies fills you with delight, then considering the NICU specialty certainly fits. Be that as it may, the emotional fortitude and variety of qualities and skills a NICU nurse must possess is no small matter.
The NICU can be a fast-paced environment because difficult decisions and complex assessments often must be made quickly to save lives. An interest in continued learning is a necessary quality; to stay up to date with progress and changes made in treatments, and technologies. Keen observation skills are especially important in this setting because all the patients are nonverbal. A nurse must have good dexterity with the small instruments and technology, and utilize gentle caution.
Additionally, a professional compassion is necessary to build a rapport and trust with understandably worried or afraid parents. With this in mind, it should be no surprise that nurses are the most-trusted profession and have been for almost two decades.