The 411 on Neonatal Nursing
Renee Berg | Monster Contributing Writer
Special Appeal for Younger Nurses
Nurses with a maternal instinct, meticulous nature and an interest in education are drawn to neonatal nursing. But the specialty also holds appeal for young nurses seeking to work with technology. NICUs are usually stocked with the latest high tech equipment, giving preemies and ill newborns who may not have survived a generation or two ago a chance at life.
Cathy Quinn, RN, landed a position as a neonatal nurse at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona 10 years ago as a new graduate — uncommon for a new nurse at the time, but more common now.
Quinn views her job as being a liaison between the medical staff and patients’ families. It’s especially important for neonatal nurses to foster strong ties with physicians, while helping the families cope with the trying experience of having an ill child.
“[Neonatal nurses] have to care about the babies and realize the families aren’t just people,” Quinn says. “The people who stay NICU nurses are people who care about the family as a whole.”
Nurturing Long-Term Relationships
Typically, neonatal nurses work 12-hour shifts, caring for as many as three babies. Patients born slightly premature but otherwise healthy may stay in the NICU for just a few days, whereas those born with more complicated health problems may stay several months.
Developing long-term relationships with their patients is common for neonatal nurses, who often receive cards and photos of their former patients’ birthdays and holidays and even college-graduation announcements. It’s those relationships that make neonatal nursing so fulfilling, Quinn says, and the specialty one that engenders loyalty. In fact, some Tucson Medical Center nurses spend their entire careers in the NICU.
A patient’s death and seeing families in distress are the job’s biggest challenges, she says, but those experiences are rare. When a baby goes home, it’s a bright day on the NICU floor.
“You never know what the outcome will be, [but] most of us think it will be a good outcome, because that’s what we’ve seen,” Quinn says.
This article originally appeared on Monster Career Advice.