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Is it a crazy idea to be a NICU nurse as a new grad?

July 9th, 2023

Not crazy at all. Start in your specialty. Don’t let these old school nurses tell you that you HAVE to start out in med-surg to gain “foundational skills”
Strive for what you want. You earned your degree. You have an idea of what you want. Do it. This career has it’s challenges as is. You’re going to go through your own trials and tribulations as a new graduate. You’ll need your “why” to come back to and if NICU is something you think you’ll have a strong “why” to help pull you out of those low spots as a new nurse, I 100% support your decision.
Additionally, nursing is such a versatile field. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of it. If NICU isn’t for you, then fine!!! Transition to something else :)

September 4th, 2022

A lot of people will say follow your heart and if NICU is what you want then go for it. While I can see some wisdom in that because who doesn't like to do what they think they'd love to do, I think it's much more important to invest in the foundation of your career as a whole for the first 1-2 years. Given the instability in the profession right now, and the practice of floating nurses because of staffing issues, I think you would be much smarter to start say in either pediatrics or Labor and Delivery. Get a strong foundation in practice, understand the protocols, and gain some context for what you were taught in school (as reality and school don't always mesh well). Investing time like this can help you learn things that you can use for the rest of your career that you have not even thought of. Priority setting is just one thing that will be super valuable. Also, gaining hands-on experience with how kids deal with illness physically, emotionally, and mentally is invaluable experience from a pediatrics point of view. Having experience in L&D can give you insight into the types of births that would require a NICU stay and also be invaluable. It's much easier to go from a patient load of say 4-5 to 1-2, then be forced to develop skills that will help you adapt to a much larger assignment should you ever have to float.

The purpose of investing in the foundation is to help you become the strongest clinician possible and keep your experience more marketable for the future too. I was fortunate to have gone to a nursing program with a Co-operative education program, and then with the Army which had us start on another unit and then orient to our home units. Getting a broader view that allows you to gain hands-on experience to be able to put context to what you've learned is in my opinion, the best investment in your career you could make. What if you go to the NICU and a year later you decide it's just not for you? Having this other experience helps you to have more options. The other thing to consider too is, that you are a novice only once. You can be new to another place, but you will not likely ever again be seen as a total novice again. This will change the way you are oriented to another area, and you will not likely be able to have as much time as a brand new nurse would.

I have been a nurse for 31 years. I have been an Educator, Manager, and Clinician. I have looked at any job I've ever gotten with the idea of "What can I learn? What can I contribute?" Not every job has been as well-paying as the last. I have sought to build my toolbox over time, and it has served me well throughout my career. It has also helped me to pivot when needed too. I encourage you to do the same. There really is so much opportunity in this profession, don't pigeonhole yourself.

August 18th, 2022

I went straight into NICU. They had a fellowship for new grads. Loved it! The only reason I left was because I became an NP. Definitely recommend for a new grad. You learn from the start how to be meticulous. There is no room for error or neglect. Starting in the NiCU made me the nurse that I am today!

September 8th, 2022

It’s easier to go straight to NICU. It’s a hard unit to get into after. They will train you and they have great programs for new grads. I went right into NICU and have been there for 10 years

November 7th, 2022

The idea that you have to start out on med surg to gain experience as a nurse before specializing is inaccurate and incredibly outdated. Having gone from a neurosurgery ICU to NICU, you have to completely retrain your brain. The experience I had with adult patients was not entirely helpful. Most NICUs like to hire new grads so they can train you before you develop bad habits. If NICU is your passion, I say go for it and don’t look back. The NICU is one of the hardest, most rewarding places to work.

October 3rd, 2022

Why is that crazy? There are NICU internships for new grads. The idea that going into med-surg floor nursing after graduation to do your time, will somehow help you, your patients or your career is an outdated idea. I went straight into surgery, the ICU, and never spent a day on a med-surg floor. I've an NP now, and can tell you without a doubt that med surg floor nursing is for a"type" juat like surgical nursing, and every other specialty. Never listen to old nurses who tell you what you have to do. YOU decide who you are, what you want, and how you want it. Network, be willing to learn, be willing to take an internship, and get to know the physicians and nurses in the NICU. Get a mentor, and never listen to anyone who says you can't do something.

April 17th, 2023

I don't think it's a crazy idea at all! I worked for 1.5 months on an adult floor because our NICU in the area wasn't hiring, but when they were I interviewed and left my other job. The NICU is so specialized that the percentage of nursing school that applies is very small. NICUs train their new hires for roughly the same amount of time, a few months, regardless of whether you're a new grad or not because of this (at least my NICU does). So if you want to jump right in I say 200% go for it! No point in wasting time somewhere you hate 🤷🏼‍♀️

December 14th, 2022

Precepting new grads in the NICU for 20 years and watching the journey from novice nurse to expert neonatal critical nurse is amazing. I was a new grad and went straight to NICU 30 years ago as a male nurse. First off there is the fact of getting an interview and being accepted. Neonatal nursing leadership throughout the years has vacillated from loving new grads and avoiding them for a season. The upside in hiring new grads is that they are moldable and can easily be indoctrinated into the organizational culture, policies, and practices. The success rate for longevity is quite high. The likelihood of new grads staying as NEO nurse and making it as a career is around 70%. The downside of hiring a new grad and training them which takes 8 months in the facility I work at is that usually after 2-3 years nurses move on and can easily be hired in another facility’s NICU. The downside, however, is not the nurse's problem it's the organization's implied risk and that's the trend.

I always advice student nurses who rotate through the NICU and find it as their preferred field in nursing to look for and apply for new grad programs which a lot of NICUs in the southern California provide.

August 18th, 2022

No it’s not! Friends I’ve graduated with went right into NICU or L&D because they knew that’s absolutely what they wanted to do and they loved it! You’ll be taught everything and be on orientation for a few months, you will learn so much.

August 4th, 2023

I was a brand new grad hired in the NICU, 20 years later ….. I am still there. It’s not a crazy idea. You can do it- go for it!

August 1st, 2023

Please please don't listen to these people telling you not to pursue a NICU career. I will make 20 years as a NICU nurse next year. I have never worked in a med-surg or adult care setting and it's the best decision I made! It's old-school thinking to suggest to a new grad that they should start off their career in med-surg for a better foundation - especially if that new grad knows they don't want to care for the adult population. Nurses are always going to be in demand so if you decide the NICU isn't for you - guess what? - no harm no foul. If you decided to make a pivot you'd still be a fairly fresh graduate that still has retained information from your med-surg courses and clinicals. You'd still be marketable because the employer knows you came from an ICU setting and that tells them that you're a critical thinker. It's not difficult to obtain a med-surg position, especially if you're in or near a big city. If NICU is what you desire, go for it!

September 28th, 2022

No, I started in the NICU as a new grad. It made me the nurse I am today. I only recently left because I’m in school and needed better work life balance. Go for it! I loved it!

September 9th, 2022

No, I went straight to a level 3 NICU out of school as a graduate nurse. I retired from the very same unit 39 1/2 years later. As with any unit (job) you will experience the ups and downs. You will learn so much and yours will soar. Go for where your passions leads you!

August 19th, 2022

I went to the NICU as a graduate nurse before I even passed the Nclex. Great experience. They mentor you and train you before you get bad habits. If you have the opportunity, go for it!!! You will learn so much!!!

August 18th, 2022

Don’t rush your life or career. The more experience you have the more you will be noticed when applying for positions. NICU nursing is a highly skilled area. Get some basic nursing first- med surg is a great place to start. Then perhaps move on to a more specialized area such as an ICU. Then you will be sought after for your dream of being a NICU nurse.

September 8th, 2022

I believe a new nurse should start off on a med/surg tele unit for at least 6 months. You can build a foundational skill set that you can take anywhere, making you more marketable.
You will be an asset to the organization that hires you.

August 2nd, 2023

It depends on what your looking for in terms of what long term goals are, what type of nursing you like and the quality of the NICU. If you have always wanted to work in a NICU, have shadowed in a NICU and it feels right, and you have a strange fascination with babies you should be just fine in a NICU as a new grad. If you are looking for an ICU setting to prepare you for application to CRNA school you probably shouldn’t go NICU. NICU is an area that has a narrow scope that runs deep as opposed to a more shallow (not shallow but more shallow) but broader ranging knowledge base in other areas. It is a less beneficial environment for someone who wants to go on to FNP or PNP but those goals are still achievable via the NICU. If your goal is to be a bedside RN for a sustained period of time, which is true for many of us, then to is easier to start in NICU if that is where you want to be. Joining a level III or IV will give you more options within the MICU nursing world long term. Univ of Iowa is hiring if you are interested!

October 3rd, 2022

If that is where your passions are, jump in with both feet.

July 31st, 2023

No, but as someone who did it the wrong way (followed shortly thereafter by the right way) please learn from me. NICU is a specialty area and it isn’t really taught in nursing school. There is a steep learning curve. If you want to be a NICU nurse as a new grad it is important to go somewhere with a solid history of training new grads. I first went to a unit that only took occasional new grads and it was a tough few months until I was able to transfer to a different site within the same hospital system. My current unit runs multiple large new grad cohorts every year. It was great training and really made me love the job! So please look for those RN residency programs :)

November 18th, 2023

Not crazy. You will learn a lot, but it's a niche that will not necessarily carry over to other areas of nursing. I enjoyed NICU. TRY TO GET ON AT A CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL. or one associated with a nursing school. A teaching hospital.

November 17th, 2023

Some of us old school nurses do the hiring. Keep that in mind

October 11th, 2023

Absolutely not, if it's your true dream to be a NICU nurse as a new grad it's totally fine. What is important is making sure there is an opportunity to get trained and oriented to the unit. A 12 week + residency /orientation should help you get adjusted for this specialty. Asking appropriate questions to your preceptor being patient with yourself, and keeping and open mind to learning about neonatal disease process goes a long way. All the best on your endeavors 😊

August 7th, 2023

That was my first job after I graduated: It's less scary because you are fresh out of school. Go for it!

August 7th, 2023

I’ve been a nicu nurse for 1.5 years and I started as a new grad. I have absolutely no regrets. I started out at a large level IV NICU so I saw everything from the start. Nicu is so different from adult nursing and people I know who came to nicu after a year or 2 in other specialties said they felt like a new grad anyway. Nicu is a tough specialty. There’s little room for error and it’s definitely challenging for a new grad BUT if you know you want to do nicu and you can find a hospital who will train you, GO FOR IT!

August 6th, 2023

I started in nicu as a new grad in SATX and I’m 1.5 years in and I love it. They’re going to prepare you and just be sure to learn at your pace, when you get launched on your own be an advocate for yourself on what kind of assignments you need if you’re trying to learn, get a routine or just try out some high acuity babies. The only downside IMO is that you’re highly specialized so it’s hard to just trade to any other unit other than a picu/imc
If you love it, do it!!

August 1st, 2023

I started my career in the ICU. I also started in a whole nee state, from Virginia to New York City!! I was ready for a new beginning. No matter where you start as a new graduate you are learning. No matter the day, as a great nurse, you seek to learn. Never stop listening, asking questions, admitting mistakes, and remember that everyone makes mistakes. Its so normal and honorable to admit fault so you can learn, keep our patients safe, and avoid the same mistake from occurring again. As a new nurse you feel nervous about everything. Every nurse has been there. Find the kind people because there will be people who don’t want to help, want to watch you fail, and are simply jerks. Kill them with kindness. If you are going to do something, do it the right way the FIRST TIME. DONT cut corners.

July 19th, 2023

It is not crazy. Being on another floor may make you feel secure. I worked in a level 4 NICU for 17 years, almost nothing from adult/pediatric is ever useful, NICU is a different skill set. Some NICU’s may prefer having a new grad, they do not need to unlearn pediatric/adult medicine.

July 17th, 2023

As someone who was lucky enough to graduate during an extreme nursing shortage, I was accepted into a NICU training program as a new grad. The training was rigorous and the other established nurses were mean to me. There is no sugar coating, they seemed determined to see me fail and complained to the charge nurse about miniscule "infractions" that they themselves and other nurses did on an ongoing basis. An example would be they always took 15 to 20 minute morning breaks together (we were allowed 10 min). But if I inadvertently was away for 11 min, it was made into a big deal. I wanted to quit but I had signed a contract agreeing that the value of the training was $8k and I had to pay it back if I did not remain for 2 years. There was no penalty if they fired me, but I guess I wasn't lucky enough to be fired, lol. I swore to myself that I would quit after my two years, but around that time, things got easier and I was better accepted and felt like I had some friends there. I say this not to discourage you, as I later felt blessed to end up as a NICU nurse. I only want to share my experience so you can consider it. I should mention that there are times I regret not having other experience as I can only work NICU. I feel unqualified for any other work, having only done NICU for twenty years. Best of luck to you!

I say all this not to discourage you. As it turned out to be a great decision

April 23rd, 2023

I went to the NICU after about a year being in a step-down ICU for adults. Honestly, I followed the “do med-surg” route first and I regretted it. Only thing it helped me with was time management skills and communication skills-which in any new job you will learn. Neonates are a whole different skill set when it comes to care and assessment. Just go straight for it.

February 8th, 2023

I definitely say you do you but I believe you learn so much on a med surg unit
First like how to prioritize,organizational skills, lab values, medications ect. I was an LPN on med surg/oncology first and believe that made me a better nurse (RN) working med surg (me only and just my opinion). Went to surgery and spent 33 years there but feel now like I could not go back unless I did that first. Nursing now is so specialized that if you don’t have that background and go into a speciality it is hard to do any other speciality. As I said to each their own just my opinion 🤷🏻‍♀️

January 30th, 2023

no as long as you have a great preceptor to teach
you and be patient with you. you will have to learn all drug conventions

January 25th, 2023

no because babies do need caregiving and mediation remedy

January 3rd, 2023

If you have the passion, and motivation and you love babies that would be sufficient. You will learn skills as you go along. You have all the resources you need , your colleagues, managers, and Doctors.

September 5th, 2022

I did just that 33 years ago and don’t regret it for a second. I’ve learned so much and continue learning. Follow your passion and don’t let nobody stop you

August 23rd, 2022

No. As long as you have a good orientation stint and have the initiative to help others, you will be a great asset to a greatly needed position to save the lives of others. Go and work hard. God speed.

September 3rd, 2022

Need to experience nurse

November 6th, 2022

I would suggest you start out as a medical surgical nursing. medical surgical nursing is the same as an anatomy and Physiology to to MICU