A NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurse is a special breed of nurse. We care for the tiniest population on the planet. Our babies are the most fragile patients. One tiny baby can challenge us most intensively in one shift. So what does it take to be a NICU nurse? A careful ear, meticulous eye, and gentle hand are just a few key ingredients.
A Careful Ear
A NICU nurse can detect even the faintest murmur on auscultation. We recognize every desaturation, apneic episode, or bradycardia signaled by a patient and know if and when to intervene.
A Meticulous Eye
Superhuman eyesight is required of all nurses working within the NICU. It takes careful and meticulous assessment to access even the tiniest of veins. The slightest color change in our tiny patients never goes unnoticed.
A Gentle Hand
We know a rushed hand will adversely affect our babies, so we learn early on to approach every patient gently. We reassure, comfort, and quiet our babes through gentle touch. We handle, move, and reposition each patient with the utmost of care.
Memory of an Elephant
A premature baby can spend as long as the first many months of life in the NICU. A NICU nurse can recall every procedure, diagnosis, and treatment the tiny patient has received. We can recite the baby’s weight, age, medications, and history on the spot.
A Watchful Guard
We guard our patients as if they are our own. We remind each and every person that interacts with the baby to wash their hands, speak softly, and approach gently. We interpret our patient’s subtle signs and teach their loved ones to interpret them as well.
A Sympathetic Shoulder
We care for the family of our patient as well. We comfort them, listen to them, and give them a shoulder to cry on. We know the roller coaster ride that is neonatal intensive care takes its toll on them and are sympathetic to their every turn on this journey.
Being a NICU nurse is all of the above and more. The most important ingredient of all is a strong heart. When we lose a patient, it affects us. We learn with time, however, to care for the next baby and family while never forgetting those lost. We care for each baby with the same love and attention as any other. All this and more makes this most honorable profession certainly a labor of love.
Lori is a travel nurse that has made her way to Sweden. She is also a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.