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Pro/con of becoming a neonatal nurse

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Evan’s Answer

Pros of neonatal nursing:
• I love babies! And patients are all babies :)
• Generally happier specialty. There are deaths, but for the most part, majority of patients will be discharged home
• Less risk for workplace injuries (patients are almost always under 10 pounds!)
• Great if you like primary nursing (caring for patient for duration of hospitalization) - some of our babies are in the NICU for months. You really get to know your babies & their families. You get to watch them overcome illness, reach developmental milestones
• Schedule - only 3 12 hours shifts per week!
• Patient ratios - as an ICU, nurse:patient ratio is generally 1:1-3. For comparison, med/surg floors can be 1:5-7.
Cons:
• Very specialized skill set - much of what we do here cannot be translated to other specialties, even other pediatric specialties. This can be a problem when looking for a job.
• Steep learning curve - there is so much to learn and it will feel like nothing you learned in nursing school/other job experiences will apply.
• High stress - it is an ICU, so the patients can be very sick. Unlike adults or even older children, babies can't tell you what is wrong. You need to have excellent physical assessment and critical thinking skills to keep your babies safe.
• A lot of math involved - everything in the NICU is weight-based. We don't have standard doses for anything. Every medication, IVF fluid, & feeding you give will involve doing math.
Other things that aren't necessarily pros or cons:
• NICU nursing requires precision; there is a small margin of error. A seemingly small mistake in a baby can have devastating consequences.
• Care of the baby involves care of the family. This is a very stressful time for the parents. NICU nurses must educate & support families. Often families lash out and take it out on the nurse. It's all part of the job.
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Eldredge, Bethany’s Answer

It is a roller coaster environment. The highs are great and the lows can be very rough. The outcomes are not always good but for most of them, they are amazing little people and you get to be a part of that.
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