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It takes a special person to be a NICU nurse since the things seen in the NICU everyday can be heartbreaking for most people. The NICU is the neonatal intensive care unit where premature and unhealthy babies remain from the time they are born until they are healthy enough to go home. Some of these babies are born so early that they require the special devices found only in the NICU to stay alive. One of these devices is an incubator, which is a small box type device that simulates the mothers’ womb to promote proper growth for those newborns who have been born way too early. Sometimes before the third trimester begins, some can weigh as little as one pound. They are able to remain in the incubator until their initial due date, and since the prognosis is much more than it was just a few years ago, these babies are living happy, healthy lives thanks largely to the NICU nurse.
Anyone who desires to become a NICU nurse must first go back to college to earn a degree in nursing. This can either be a two year Associate of Science in nursing, although a four year Bachelors of Science in nursing is generally preferred. There is no additional degrees that are required, however; the NICU nurse must be qualified in neonatal resuscitation including chest compressions and devices used to resuscitate a baby who has stopped breathing. Any additional requirements as far as experience will depend on the facility in which you work. While some require extensive experience in the nursing field, others prefer nurses fresh out of nursing school in an effort to give them on the job training so they learn one way, the way of the NICU. In addition, your state or facility may also require you to take various continuing education courses that pertain to developments in the care and treatment of premature babies so you are completely up to date on all types of treatments.
The daily duties of the NICU nurse vary all the time. One day, the nurse may be administering IV medications and performing various tests on the babies already in the NICU and the next day, they may be helping a doctor deliver a baby who is not quite ready to join the world. The biggest duty of the NICU nurse is that they must have extraordinary bedside manners to not only help the children, but to help the parents as well because the parents must be educated on how to handle their baby. Premature babies are much different than those who are born healthy and on-time. The premature baby has special needs, including different types of formulas and feeding schedules as well as diapering using smaller diapers to fit their little bodies. In addition, anyone who visits the baby must wear protective clothing at all times in an effort to create a sterile environment similar to that of an operating room in an effort to prevent any infection to the fragile newborn.