With an increase in the number of premature babies requiring acute hospital care, new and experienced nurses are finding more career opportunities in neonatal nursing.
Neonatal nurses work in general maternity wards and in neonatal intensive-care units (NICUs). Those caring for premature and critically ill babies spend their shifts diapering and feeding the infants, checking vital signs, administering medications and tests, and teaching families how to care for their children properly.“For parents, having a baby is one of the best times of their life,” says Lori Loan, PhD, a former NICU charge nurse. “To share that with so many people every week is really exciting. And even when you have really sick babies, there’s personal reward from taking care of them as if they were your own.”They have the ability to discern when a little 1-pound person just doesn’t seem like herself from a mile away. They will do everything in their power to convince the docs of this and will likely not let them leave for the day unless they get what they want for that baby.NICU nurses have known forever that these babies feel pain, even though it was difficult to ‘prove’.
They think about the babies on their days off, come in from home if they are dying. They provide a baby with lots of love one minute, and run to code another one the next.They are expert at what they do.Now that I’ve been working with them for well over a decade and they trust me not to do anything too stupid, I must say I understand them. This little world in the NICU is unique. It is at once a place of celebrating new life and the grasping for it. It has been noted to be a place of intense parental love or at times abandonment; parents sometimes lost in their own set of horrible circumstances.
It is mostly happy. It is mostly positive. It can be devastating.We tuck years of that pain into a place we pretend doesn’t exist in healthcare. We go home and kiss our children.I can’t say enough about the dedication of this group of people. They make me laugh hysterically with the sarcasm and humor that comes with the territory. They stun me with the level of skill they take for granted and the patience with which they teach the unending line of new doctors, new nurses, and people like me.
It is an immense responsibility to dedicate your work to a place that never closes, which needs you for its smooth and competent running, where fragile babies living and dying can just be part of your day’s work. All of that for a six figure salary If you’ve never seen a NICU nurse work it’s quite amazing. They can bundle a baby as tight as any burrito in 3 seconds flat, especially if showing a new resident how to properly perform this task. Seemingly regardless of their age and/or eyesight they can start an I.V.
in a vein that’s no wider than a thread or fishing line while blocking out all surrounding distractions.And don’t kid yourself if you’re a friend of one of these nurses and you visit her with your new baby. You may think she’s just admiring his adorable face when really she’s trying to control her excitement about how good his scalp veins look in case he ever needs an I.V. in his noggin.I’m telling you, they’re just not right.
They are meticulous about the state of the baby’s bedside and the baby himself, and are so anal that they typically revamp the entire area when they come on shift because the nurse before them wasn’t quite anal enough. This is all in the best interest of the baby of course, and for that nurse’s state of mind for the rest of the shift.