My Education: AS, Laboure Junior College BSN, UMass-Boston
My Prior Experience: When I first got out of school there was an abundance of nurses so I took a job on a dialysis unit. I did this for nine months until I got a job in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital of my choice. I worked there for 8 years until the hospital closed and they moved us to another hospital, where I worked per diem on the dialysis unit for three years. I then took a job at the hospital that had merged with ours and worked there for 8 years before taking a job closer to home. These days I work in the special care nursery at a hospital near my home and continue to work per diem in the NICU in Boston.
My Company: I work in a neonatal intensive care unit taking care of premature babies and sick full-term babies. I go to baby deliveries where they anticipate that the baby could have a problem. I educate families on how to take care of their babies.
Job/Career Overview: I work as a registered nurse on a neonatal intensive care unit. Sometimes I'm the charge nurse and oversee all the nurses. I take care of premature babies and full-term babies who are sick. Most of them have IV's and are on numerous medications.
On a typical day I arrive at work and take a report from the nurse I'm replacing. I get the status of the baby I'll be nursing and find out how old it is gestation-wise and what the its needs are. I also find out about its social history. First I go and check the chart and make sure that the orders are all accounted for. I do a lot of computer work as I have to input the data I obtain. I get vital signs on my baby to make sure that they are normal, and if they are not, I have to let the doctors know that there is a problem. If the baby does not eat well or does not eat at all I have an intravenous line I need to take care of. I need to draw blood from the baby's foot to be sure that his blood sugars are okay. Many of the babies I take care of are on ventilators, so I also work side by side with the respiratory therapists. We work as a team in the neonatal ICU, just like they do on TV.
While taking care of the babies I am sometimes assigned to "admissions". If a woman is about to deliver and will have to be admitted, I observe the delivery and help with the baby and bring it to the NICU. These newborns quite often aren't breathing and we need to do infant CPR on them, and it's important therefore that I keep my Neonatal Resuscitation certificate current and take the course every two years. We often have to test for blood gases after doing CPR, which involves drawing blood from a vein or even an artery. Inserting an IV in a baby can be hard because their veins are so small. Most people do not know that at times we need to put IV's in the babies scalp veins.
I report to the nurse manager for any problems I have that can't be solved by anyone else. I get excellent job benefits and working overtime as I do means a lot of extra money. During the day many of the babies are able to eat and if they are too small to eat because they can't suck, I feed them with a feeding tube hooked up to a pump. If they have an infection I give them antibiotics by IV and if they forget to breathe we give them medicine for that too.
Being a nurse is wonderful because you can do so many types of nursing. Operating room, geriatrics, pediatrics, neonatology, doctor's office, school nurse, dialysis, adult intensive care, transplant team, etc. So many things to choose from. I have to get continuing education credits every 3 years. I need 45 because I am neonatal intensive care certified, but for a nurse who doesn't have a specialty it is 15 credits every 2 years to maintain her registered nurse's license. It is a good feeling knowing that you helped a baby and it is very rewarding. I really feel like I make a difference. Every day is different.
More Insights: I love being a nurse and I can't see myself ever doing anything else. It is a very respectable career. It is wonderful to help people.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
Best part of the job is working with the babies who are wonderful. And it doesn't hurt you to lift them either. Advances in neonatology are constantly being made, which keeps the field fresh and interesting. Another bonus is that the work pays very well.
The worst part of the job is having to work on major holidays and having your kids miss you! But another down side is being exposed to possibly dangerous body fluids. It is difficult to go to work if you are sick because you are expected to stay home but they give you a hard time if you do stay home because they need you! Also, if it is bad weather out you still have to somehow get there!
A lot of people think that they don't have the time to go to college. But in the scheme of things, the investment that I made in education was well worth it. I have a job that I love that pays very well. Nursing opens you up to a world of opportunities. Science is a wonderful and exciting field. They always have patients in hospitals so they will always need healthcare providers. It is a field that will always be active and I can't see it going out of business.