If you enjoy being around small infants, you may want to become a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse. NICU nurses provide care for newborn infants who are pre-term (neonates) and for newborns who undergo complications when they are born or have serious issues after birth.
More than 5,500 babies in the United States are born weighing less than one pound. Many thousands of other infants are born early, with underdeveloped lungs, organs that are external, and other issues. Less than fifty years ago, infants like these would probably not survive more than a few days. However, thanks to modern medical science and technology, these extremely vulnerable infants have a good chance of surviving and growing to become strong, healthy children.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nursing can be one of the most emotionally challenging RN jobs. On the other hand, many NICU nurses find it to be incredibly rewarding and would not choose any other profession. NICU nurses have the opportunity to watch extremely tiny, underweight infants gain weight, develop, and gain strength, until they can finally be sent home with their parents.
While it is obvious that NICU nurses provide care for babies, they must also offer support and information for the child’s parents. As such, NICU nurses must be extremely compassionate and empathetic. The NICU nurse must possess highly-specialized skills and knowledge in order to analyze the issues a neonate or ill infant is undergoing and provide the best possible care. These infants may require surgery or round-the-clock technological intervention. NICU nurses must constantly educate themselves on the latest procedures in the care of neonates and ill newborns.
The field of NICU nursing is highly competitive. Generally, NICU nursing positions are filled by registered nurses who have demonstrated skills and aptitude in other nursing areas. Medical facilities usually provide the additional training and education that is needed to become an NICU nurse.