As we know, being a Nurse in any healthcare facility is a tough job, but being a Neonatal Nurse is even tougher.
It requires a lot of skills, training, and education, and in this article, we are going to discuss NICU Nurse skills.
In this article, you will learn in detail about the following:
- Introduction – NICU Nurse
- What skills are required by a NICU Nurse
- Qualification required to become a NICU Nurse
- Importance of certification to become a NICU Nurse
Let’s get down to real business!
Once you are a Nurse or an RN, you have to specialize in pediatric care or any other critical care department to be able to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
NICU is a department that deals with newborn babies who have gone through surgery, have congenital anomalies, or are born prematurely.
The Nurse’s job is to be vigilant and take great care to make these babies healthy and thriving.
NICU Nurses are in high demand in the US as there are almost 40,000 babies born with low birth weight each year.
To deal with a sick baby means you have to console and empathize with the worried and exhausted new parents and family members of the baby.
The NICU Nurses are required 24/7, and most of them work 12 hours shifts.
BLS reported an increase of 7% in the growth of the nursing sector, which is higher than the average growth rate for any other industry.
There are all types of Nurses included in this.
Pediatric Nurses are also moving towards growth as an occupation and an adequately paid job.
“Empathy and communication skills are the two best friends that a NICU Nurse can have”
When is a Neonatal Nurse Needed?
A Nurse who has done Bachelor of Science in Nursing knows how to take care of ill patients, and they have nursing skills to cater to the critical thinking required to perform treatment for their patients.
Neonatal care is different as it involves little human beings, who at times are not even more than a few hours old.
In addition, the nursing skills are different based on the type of illness the newborn has and the type of treatment the pediatric patients need.
Medically these treatments are categorized to know the severity of the condition.
Patient care varies at all these levels as the neonatal can be in a fatal condition and need a specific treatment, etc.
Neonatal Nurses are usually required for level ii, level iii, and IV patients.
The patients at these levels may need to be kept in incubators or ventilators to survive.
Nurses require medical skills they’ve learned through their associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.
The Nurses in the NICU do everything for the babies under their observation, from changing their diapers to feeding them milk.
Some patients are breastfeeding, so the NICU Nurse would make the schedule for the mother to Nurse the baby.
Or, if the baby is very sick, the Nurse would feed the baby with the expressed breastmilk provided by the mother.
Some patients need CPAP procedures, which are different from the adult CPAP treatment as the babies are too small to have an unadministered treatment for the entire night.
In addition, some treatments are life support treatments and can not be left unsupervised, and this is why the Neonatal Nurse needs a few skills specifically.
NICU Nurse Skills
Neonatal Nurses work tirelessly to make their neonatal patients gain health and live a happy life.
They also take care of the traumatized new parents by giving them all the emotional support they need.
Certain skills are required by all types of Nurses.
However, for NICU Nurses, there are some additional skills.
These skills affect the competency of the Nurse and their nursing career.
These skills are not specifically medical-related; they can be general skills but play important roles in neonatal care.
A Nurse’s job is crucial to perform for such fragile and non-communicative patients.
These Nurses have practiced somewhere else before coming to the NICU.
Mostly they’ve practiced as a CCRN or in the pediatric care unit.
They have appropriate licensure and certification to practice in this field, as this specific department requires a lot of undiverted attention.
- Assessing the patients: The patients in this department can gain or lose health sooner than one can think
Therefore, it is of optimum importance for the Nurses giving the care to have the ability to assess the patient’s condition.
They can assess the condition through vital signs and other signs of the patient’s physical condition.
In addition, alerting the Doctor and family members at the right time is important.
- Decision-making: While assessing the condition, at times, the Nurse will also have to make immediate decisions for the betterment of ill infants, so the decision-making skill is also vital
The specialized care will entitle the Nurse to make a quick decision with or without a Doctor’s involvement.
At times, there is a lack of time, making it even more important for the Nurse to have decision-making ability based on their clinical experience.
- Communication skills: These are super important
Their job description requires them to be vocal instantly if they feel there is a change in the condition.
Neonatal Nurses need to keep the family members, new parents, and all colleagues in the loop if there are any important changes in the baby’s health.
Neonatal intensive care nursing is for ill infants who cannot communicate with themselves, so it is also said that Neonatal Nurses work as the source of communication for those babies.
- Critical thinking: The Nurse needs to be able to assess the situation and act accordingly
To act fast and do the right thing, they need to analyze the whole situation and critically work accordingly.
This also includes responsiveness to the needs of the patients.
The infant’s needs can change rapidly, and this leaves no room for waiting to decide to stabilize the patient’s condition.
- Ability to nurture: As the patients are very small and fragile, it is the responsibility of the NICU Nurse to treat them with love and affection along with the medical and food requirements
Babies are known to blossom with love, so the Nurse needs to give plenty of individual attention for the patient to nurture properly.
- Teach family members: The parents may be new parents and may have no prior experience caring for a child
Some mothers also struggle with breastfeeding the neonatal care baby.
The Nurse can guide them through all the stages, from life support to feeding the baby correctly.
This type of communication between the parents and the NICU Nurse makes the parents feel comfortable in their new roles as fathers or mothers.
This is also a helpful gesture on behalf of the Nurse.
Neonatal Nurses are known to become a part of the families of their pediatric patients.
- Gel in with the NICU team: The care at NICU is critical, so there is almost no room for work politics
Nurses with an optimistic attitude are preferred in such departments.
The Nurses need to have a formal yet friendly attitude to provide the best neonatal care possible to their team.
- Understand the developmental needs of the patients. As the infants are at a growing age, it is the Nurse’s responsibility to consider how the baby is doing compared to their age and what is expected of them
Whether the baby is achieving their health milestones on time or not.
These things will be noted by the Nurse and notified to the parents.
- Prepare for the uncertain: The cases can be critical, and not all patients survive
Therefore, Nurses have to be prepared for such situations.
The family members will need to be consoled, and they can even be a bit aggressive in their pain.
The Nurses caring for the neonate should know how to deal with such situations without breaking down in an emotional state themselves.
The Nurses have training that they receive through nursing programs and their BSN program.
But most of the skills required are built through years of clinical experience in various health-related departments.
Qualification and Training Are Required to Become a NICU Nurse
NICU Nurses are required at any hospital who have a NICU.
Mostly, they are in demand in various children’s hospitals as children of different ages with different diseases are treated.
If you are a Nurse, how can you become a NICU Nurse? We will tell you the proper procedure through which you can become a NICU Nurse in the US.
- Get a BSN degree: This is the first step to becoming a Nurse, and things will go further from here
- Sit for the NCLEX-RN exam: The Nurses need to sit and clear this state exam to become an RN
- Gain clinical experience in pediatric and neonatal care
- Sit for the national neonatal certification exam from the national certification corporation – this will certify you to be able to work in the neonatal department of any healthcare facility in the US
- You are now eligible to start working as a Neonatal Nurse and provide service at any neonatal care facility
Importance of Certification to Become a NICU Nurse
The certification serves as proof of the Nurse’s qualification and capabilities to perform as a Neonatal Nurse.
As a result, the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner or NNP has all the necessary certifications, degrees, and clinical experience.
These degrees and certifications ensure that the Nurses are equipped with up-to-date information and techniques to take care of ill infants.
The NICU Nurses feel the joy and accomplishment of helping a young life thrive and survive.
They are a huge reason for the infant to be able to grow and blossom.
Being a Neonatal Care Nurse is an exhausting job, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
However, NICU Nurses are trained through experience and cannot lag in the skill-set required by their profession.
Do Neonatal Nurses deliver babies?
Yes. Neonatal Nurses have a lot of responsibilities stated in their job description. It includes helping deliver the baby, taking care of the baby from changing diapers to feeding them, etc.
What are the requirements to become a NICU Nurse?
NICU Nurse needs a lot of experience in critical care departments like CCRN, pediatric wards, ICUs, etc., before they can sit for the exam to be a NICU Nurse. However, the experience will be sufficient to prepare them to become Neonatal Nurses.
What are the responsibilities of a Neonatal Nurse?
The Neonatal Nurse has many responsibilities similar to the RN. For example, the Neonatal Nurse helps the baby gain health at the very starting stage of their life, so the Nurse is required to be more loving and affectionate towards their patient. Also, their responsibilities differ from patient to patient.
How much does a Neonatal Nurse earn?
A Neonatal Nurse is a high in-demand Nurse in the US. According to the bureau of labor statistics, Nurses earn more than $100k yearly in California. However, the average salary varies from state to state. The salary also depends on the Nurse’s experience, nursing degree, and nursing program.
Should a Nurse strive to become a Neonatal Nurse?
First, you need to ask yourself whether you are ready to give your patients this type of attention and care? The life of a NICU Nurse changes greatly with each patient. It always feels like the emotional attachment has taken a toll on the emotional wellness of the Nurse.