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About Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing

NICU nurse

Neonatal intensive care nursing is another specialty within the area of pediatric nursing.

The NICU nurse works with infants that are generally admitted during the neonatal period. The neonatal period is an infant during the first 28 days of life.

Neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are generally separated into level 2, 3 and 4 nurseries.  The level 2 NICU is often called the intermediate care nursing, step down NICU, or the transitional care nursery. The level 2 should be your more stable babies such as preemies that require temperature control assistance and tube feedings to allow then to grow. The level 4 NICU is your very critical infants which may include micro-preemies, congenital heart disease and congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and many other newborn issues. 

All hospitals that have a labor and delivery area will have a minimum of a normal newborn nursery. Some will also have a level 2 nursery and some will have all 4 levels of newborn care nurseries.

Children's hospitals generally have larger NICU's. They receive infants that are premature, have congenital anomalies, or respiratory and other newborn related issues from the smaller hospitals on a regular basis.

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The infants cared for in the NICU include:

  • extreme prematurity, as low as 22 -23 weeks gestation
  • premature infants that may have a wide range of diagnoses
  • term infants born with a variety of medical problems from mild respiratory distress to complex congenital heart disease and many others
  • multiple births
NICU nurse gifts

This amazing NICU T-shirt about neonatal intensive care nursing is too cute not to share. 

The NICU nurse: Special nurses

As with most nursing specialties, it takes a special nurse to care for these special babies and their families.  Working together with the families is very important in pediatric nursing or neonatal nursing.  Caring for these often critically ill infants may be stressful and may lead to nurse burnout.  It is important that you take care of yourself, and maintain a healthy physical, emotional and spiritual lifestyle so that you can continue to provide quality nursing care to your special patients.

A NICU nurse may pursue certification when they have met the qualifications outlined in the certification process. After passing the certification exam and receiving your certification your skills and knowledge for this specialty will be known by your employer and your coworkers.  Specialty certification in neonatal ICU nursing is encouraged and is a valuable tool to verify your knowledge in this area.

NICU nurse mug

Celebrate that special NICU nurse in your life with an awesome gift such as this pretty NICU nurse coffee cup.  If you are a family member or parent of a NICU baby keep in mind most facilities do not allow the nurses to accept gifts.

September 15, 2017 - Celebrate National Neonatal Nurses Day

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