Life as a Neonatal Nurse – What to Expect

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In healthcare, you have so many options to choose from when deciding which path to go down. Despite how rewarding all of these careers are, there’s truly something rewarding about becoming a neonatal nurse and being able to help infants at the very beginning of their life, giving them and their parents a new found hope as they venture into their new lives. If you’re looking to find out more about what a day in the life of a neonatal nurse is like, we’ve got you covered!

Feeling Prepared

Becoming a neonatal nurse isn’t a simple journey, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at the nature of the job. After all, you’re dealing with some of the most vulnerable lives in the world! It’s quite a daunting task. However, it’s worth remembering that everyone feels this way, especially if you haven’t had much experience in this area, and a lot of what you’ll need to know will be learnt right there on the job. You won’t be left alone – there’ll be plenty of friendly staff to help guide you and give you some advice, and you’ll learn from those who’ve been doing this job for a long time.

Saying that, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared! And of course, with such an important job, it’s important to be qualified. Getting a qualification in nursing is important, the most basic of which being a one year Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse training program, but having an associate’s degree will give you many more opportunities in the general nursing department and allow you to become a registered nurse.

If you’ve done these already, or are already a nurse, you’re already halfway there! But to become a neonatal nurse, it can help to take further qualifications, like this Doctor of Nursing Practice for Neonatal Nurses from Baylor University Online–online universities are recommended since they fit around your lifestyle much more easily. Getting further qualifications not only improves your chances at better jobs automatically, but gives you the key knowledge you need to approach this rewarding job as prepared as you can.

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The Downsides

Being a neonatal nurse, though rewarding, isn’t always an easy job though. As with many healthcare professions, there will be some long shifts that you’ll need to be ready for, which can be incredibly tiring and draining, especially if you end up with a few challenges to work through. These shifts might even fall on holidays, so it’s worth remembering that you might have to give up some of your more special free time.

There’s also a lot of responsibility that comes with being a neonatal nurse. You have incredibly delicate lives on your hands and you have to make sure that, as much as you can, you have everything under control. This means making sure you’re organized at all times, and making sure that you don’t forget important events. It also means, however, that you’ll need to be flexible to things changing at the last minute and willing to adapt to difficult situations. You’ll also need an attention to detail – it’s much easier to be a good nurse when you can remember certain things about patients without having to sift through paperwork. Finally, a positive attitude is necessary in order to keep positive amongst even the worst of situations, both for your own mental health and the parents you’ll most likely have to communicate with.

Though this job is demanding of you at times, if you already have a knack for these things, then you’ll find this job only improves your control and expression of these skills! If you do find something you think you’ll struggle with, however, there are plenty of self-improvement materials online you can access to help you. After all, these skills can be useful in everyday life, too!

However, the biggest demand of this job is the situations you will face. Unfortunately, not every problem can be solved, and you may be faced with some incredibly challenging cases where an infant may not make it. This is not only difficult enough in itself, but it’s difficult to then communicate with the parents and close family of the infant, as well as to have to carry on with your day. It’s important to look after your mental health in these cases, and prepare yourself for these morbid moments. However, it’s worth remembering these are rare, and you should have adequate support provided by your supervisors. As long as you bare this in mind, and have support in place for when you find these moments overwhelming, you will be able to work through this.

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The Positives

Despite the difficulties you will face, there’s a reason why this job is so sought after, and you’ll find that the positives far outweigh any of the negatives. The most obvious positive is, of course, that you’ll be saving so many lives! You’ll be able to not just improve the lives of so many people, but be able to give it to those who would otherwise have never had the chance. You may find some days to be hard, but when you see the smiles on the faces of parents who know their babies are going to be okay, it’s a feeling like no other.

You’ll also find you get so much out of it for yourself, too. Not only do you improve the lives of others, but you improve your own life. You’ll build the resilience that comes with the difficult moments, and you’ll develop an appreciation for the beautiful moments and joy that there is in life. You’ll develop skills that will help you move through your own life – organization, empathy, and quick-thinking to name a few – and you’ll be able to find incredible fulfilment in doing something truly rewarding.

There’s a lot of things to consider when asking yourself if becoming a neonatal nurse is the right path for you. But you’ll find that, despite how challenging the job can be at times, life for a neonatal nurse is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling one, and we’re sure you won’t look back.

Author: Maggie Hammond, Passionate about alternative medicine, education, the great outdoors and animal welfare.

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