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Is being a level 3 Neonatal Nurse emotionally draining?

I am a sophomore thinking about becoming a Neonatal Nurse rather than an OBGYN. I think working with sick babies would be really sad for me, but it is something I would love to do. Is it still a job that I should pursue? #medicine #nurse #healthcare #neonatal #emotional

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Here are some experiences from NICU nurses (from here):


"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. "


"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."


"I love the fact that every single thing that I do for that baby matters.... I love the hi tech atmosphere... I love being respected and made to feel necessary by the docs...I love being actually asked by the docs "what do you think we should do for this kid?" and them actually take my advice.... I love making a scared parent feel more at ease with just looking at their frail infant.......I love when a tiny microchip that I helped care for, is a chubby lil one, on full feeds, going home to their family......I love working alongside some of the best docs in neonatal medicine in the country...I also dont mind not ever being allowed to float (we can NEVER spare nurses).... I love telling people what I do, and really sensing their admiration.....I love the overtime in my paycheck, which there is plenty of........I love having a doc around 24/7 365, (not so in so many areas of nsg).I love having just 2 pts to focus on.......I also love going to the feeder grower room sometimes where I can wrap a baby like a burrito and feed her a bottle... and think... "I get paid for this, it doesnt get any better"......I love that I am entrusted with caring for these babies, I truely feel priveleged. I love that my borderline OCD is actually a good thing at work!!!:chuckle ..........I love that I never have to work adult med/surg....I love that I love it so much!!!!! Almost everybody I ask, knew right away this is where they wanted to be. NICU isnt a place that can "grow" on you....I believe its a calling. It's scary, and if your not scared, then watch out... you -dont- know- what- you -dont- know!!!! "


"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 experience. 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 ) Again.....I couldn't work anywhere else!!!"

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Thank you comment icon thank you ! DejaCodman2
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