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Am I cut out to be a neonatal nurse?

(38 Posts)
RinMyBell Wed 11-Oct-17 20:35:14

Currently studying nursing. Have always been drawn to neonatal. I find it fascinating, it's fast paced, challenging and unpredictable.
To become a neonatal nurse, I will have to do another year on top of the degree, which isn't a problem.
I've been watching an American programme about NICU recently, and I've realised that I'm finding the episodes seriously heartwrenching. I remember all the babies names, conditions and the sad stories. I am constantly thinking about the ones who survived and the parents of both the angels and survivors.
Can I do this?
I am drawn to this because I want to be there for the babies, but also the parents, obviously emotional support is so important in this role.
If TV is affecting me this much, do you think I'll struggle? I'd hate to be unhelpful to the patients and parents.

Anxioustabbycat Wed 11-Oct-17 20:37:06

Are you training to be a paediatric nurse?

ShimmeringBollox Wed 11-Oct-17 20:38:28

When my dts were in NICU there were nurses who only worked in the Hidep and scbu wards. Would that be an option for you?

blondielocks29 Wed 11-Oct-17 20:43:10

Can you get a placement in NICU or SCBU? I know when my best friend was training her final placement in her third year was essentially her choice (she decided to work in a burns unit somewhere I think).
Would requesting a placement like this be possible for you?

Threeboysandus Wed 11-Oct-17 20:44:24

Im a midwife and when I watch birthing programmes, im always so emotional. Whereas when I am in the moment, I am always very calm and controlled. I feel am when I have a role to play and a job to do I am much more disconnected from it.

TheColdDoesBotherMeAnyway Wed 11-Oct-17 20:46:03

I used to be a NICU nurse. It was very emotional at times, and there are many babies and families that I still remember over 10 years later, the ones with happy and sad outcomes. I worked within a very supportive team which helped. It always felt like a privilege to be part of such an emotional journey, and provide comfort in even horrific situations. I loved the adrenaline of working within such a busy, intense environment, and there really is nothing like when a baby who was so poorly comes toddling up the ward a few years later to say hello.
Will you get the chance to do a student placement on a NICU? That will give you the best idea whether or not it’s for you. I loved it from my first student placement and ended up working there for 10 years and did 2 postgrad modules, in the end though I felt it was time to move on and left 4 years ago now.
Good luck with the rest of your training smile

scaredofthecity Wed 11-Oct-17 20:55:38

Empathy is never a bad thing but I'm not sure its helpful to be so emotionally involved.
Personally I find Neuro equally fascinating and heart breaking and for me it means it is somewhere I have actively avoided. I found myself taking my patients stories home with me and it definately wasn't healthy. I think to be able to work well in an intensive environment you do have to be able to detach yourself.
I found myself drawn to another speciality that was equally challenging but one where I didn't feel quite so emotionally involved.
From speaking to my colleagues I think everyone has a speciality that 'gets them ' and it's whether your strong enough to embrace it, or decide it's better to stay away.
I hope that makes sense!

RinMyBell Wed 11-Oct-17 21:05:51

Yes anxioustabby I am doing paediatric, but to do neonatal I believe you can do your degree in paediatric, adult and midwifery.

Definitely will be looking to do a placement in NICU, but they are few and far between.

cold so glad you have posted, I have never met a Neonatal nurse so interesting to get your view on it. Obviously all programmes are heavily edited, and gloss over a lot of the nitty gritty.

FlakeBook Wed 11-Oct-17 21:11:27

I had a friend who moved from paediatric oncology ward to NICU. She moved back pretty quickly as it wasn't for her. She said she felt like a technician rather than a nurse with all the machines and missed the relationships she built up with the families. Obviously that's only her perspective. But she had "always wanted" to work on SCBU but didn't enjoy it in reality, so definitely do a placement if you get the opportunity.

katiegg Wed 11-Oct-17 21:15:33

I remember all the babies names, conditions and the sad stories. I am constantly thinking about the ones who survived and the parents of both the angels and survivors.

This sentence tells me that you would be great at it! Very few people get to met and hold an infant in need of neonatal care, as a neonatal nurse you'd get to be one of those people and parents take great comfort in knowing someone else remembers and cares about their baby.

I am in awe of my friends and colleagues who work in neonatal, they are definitely a very special bunch! Yes, the sad stories will upset you and stay with you - but apparently the thrill of seeing parents walk into the unit with a car seat ready to bring their baby home for the first time never gets old!

Good luck!

Magicmonster Wed 11-Oct-17 21:20:30

I have just spent 2 months in NICU followed by a month in SCBU with my sick baby. Firstly, I second what the poster above said about SCBU being a very different environment to NICU - and so if you want to do that kind of work but with slightly less heartache then maybe you could be a SCBU/HDU nurse? Secondly, whatever type of neonatal nurse you become (if you decide to go down that path) I agree that it is as much about looking after the parents as the babies. The nurses we came across during our stay were absolutely amazing and made a horrible experience as bearable as possible for us in so many different ways. It is such a worthwhile job, and I am sure with your empathy you would be a great neonatal nurse.

LumpySpaceCow Wed 11-Oct-17 21:21:38

Are you in UK? Why would you need to do another year after qualifying? If you mean the post reg courses (specific neonatal courses e.g. intensive care module) then you generally don't do them for a little bit after starting the job (varying between months and years depending on neonatal unit) and in all areas of nursing there are courses and modules that you have to do post reg.
I've worked in NICU for ten years and love it. There are different levels of unit from level 3 (most intensive) to level 1 (just special care but not very many of these, lots of level 2 which do have some short term intensive care but mainly high dependency and special). On our level 3 unit we rotate and look after all babies.
Neonates is like marmite, you either love it or hate it so I would have an elective there before qualifying. It is very different from paediatric nursing (I qualified as a children's nurse).

LumpySpaceCow Wed 11-Oct-17 21:27:11

And of course you have sad days, but the vast majority of babies go home with loving families. You need to be able to work well under pressure for resus situations, looking after extremely sick babies etc.
Worst case scenario, you get a job on NICU, don't like it so you find something else (this often happens with newly qualified, especially on a busy tertiary unit).

Sooooooooooooooooooooo Wed 11-Oct-17 21:33:59

I don't think you have to do an extra year, only if you want to become a specialised NICU nurse.

You'll qualify, get a job and if you don't like it then move elsewhere. Unless where you get a job has the opportunity to do a rotation which is a really good way of finding out what you enjoy.

RinMyBell Wed 11-Oct-17 21:35:05

LumpySpaceCow hello! I have spoken to my tutor and that was what she has told me. I didn't realise this was incorrect! There is actually very little information available - I have found - about getting into neonatal. Everyone I speak to seems to just pass me on to someone else!
I didn't particularly want to do paediatric. I did it because the uni advised it as the best route for going into neonatal and I knew I didn't want to do midwifery.

PickettBowtruckles Wed 11-Oct-17 21:37:45

I worked in a NICU for just over a year. I still remember some of the babies and their stories, and their families. Funny enough I actually bumped into a Dad when I was on a night out recently, we recognised each other straight away and was lovely to catch up on how his baby was doing!

It is a lovely job and the work you do is amazing, but you will have horrendous, heartbreaking days. There were often students on our unit so definitely try and get a placement on a unit to see how you find it.

LumpySpaceCow Wed 11-Oct-17 21:42:32

We get loads of paediatric/adult student nurses who are in the same boat as you so arrange their own placement with us. Is there a large unit near you (a level 3)? If so, try to arrange a placement with them or even some spoke days. If you get a job on a level 3, then you would be expected to become qualified in speciality, but the courses are enjoyable and you learn a lot doing them. If you got a job on a level 2 then there wouldn't be as much of an urgency and probably less of an opportunity as the courses are expensive!

Sooooooooooooooooooooo Wed 11-Oct-17 21:44:54

Can you not request your elective at nicu?

Ohyesiam Wed 11-Oct-17 21:45:44

When I s a nurse, I found that being so engaged with the job on shift, I was able to handle all those big emotions. You are there, making a difference, doing something that matters.
Watching documentaries you have no involvement, can't put your all into it. So all you are left with is the enormity and helplessness of it.

Ohyesiam Wed 11-Oct-17 21:48:04

Posted too soon
Not saying there aren't heart breaking moments. But it's much more doable IRL.
Also you have management and peer support at work.

BlueCows Wed 11-Oct-17 21:53:24

I now work as a midwife but have worked as a neonatal nurse before. You do get used to it. But yes I can still remember names/babies of babies who I looked after and died over 10 years ago.

I'm still sad at times but not in a way where it's affecting my mood after I come home. Obviously in midwifery we still care for women and babies where there are poor outcomes.

I think it's totally true what someone said earlier, that at work you have to be the professional and you have to keep it together. I'm actually quite squeamish outside of work, but in work I can suture vaginal walls, I can manage large haemorrhages and not bat an eyelid. I can't watch any sort of medical procedure on TV and can't cope with looking at the kids wobbly teeth! I'm a different person out of work to in work.

Nobody wants a cold, uncaring person as a nurse or midwife. We're all human, showing empathy is good. But falling apart isn't good, certainly not in front of the parents. And if a job depresses you so much it affects you out of work it's not good for you.

BlueCows Wed 11-Oct-17 21:54:54

Oh and I never did an extra year training.

ShapelyBingoWing Wed 11-Oct-17 21:57:16

Spoke out for a taster...if you explain it's a special area of interest for you and I find most places try hard to accommodate.

I wouldn't put too much stock in how the programs make you feel. I can't watch lumbar punctures or cannulas being put in (also children's specialty). It makes me feel really ill. But if I am actively helping I'm completely fine.

Lozmatoz Thu 12-Oct-17 11:20:30

You just need to focus on your own resilience, is there training available? Think about how you’d like to manage things, take advantage of your supervision session or any free counselling services that might be provided to you.

Hopefully the moments of utter joy will outweigh sad and difficult times.

KarateKitten Thu 12-Oct-17 11:23:36

I'm sure as part of your training you would learn how to be professional and handle your work in a way that enables you to do it to the best of your ability. Humans have infinite capacity to learn and adapt.

If you're interested and want it, then go for it.

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