So You Want to be a Neonatal Nurse?

5 Things you must know as you begin your career


Are you a new nursing school graduate looking to start your career in neonatal nursing? Here are the five must knows as you begin your RN journey.

1. You don’t know what you don’t know. Keep learning, keep growing, and never feel too comfortable in any situation.

This statement cannot be any truer. As you graduate from nursing school, you feel you have conquered the world. That if you can make it through the grueling adventures of being a nursing student that you can do anything!

  It’s a great feat, and certainly not one that just anybody can do; so pat yourself on the back for that. But the knowledge that you get in nursing school only skims the surface. It gives you a sense of what nursing is all about and the skills necessary for critical thinking, but most of what you will learn will be on the job. Be open to that. Don’t shy away from new and sometimes scary situations. This is when you will grow. When you are uncertain about something, ask questions. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Empower yourself and never stop learning.

2. Nurses can, and will eat their young.

Being a nurse can be very intimidating and often trying. A new job is stressful in itself but being a new nurse in new and scary situations brings this statement to a whole new level. Nursing units have a set of social rules that aren’t written down anywhere and sometimes they are so hard to figure out.

Don’t give up. If you want it I mean really want it, you will survive. Find a mentor on the unit, someone you can look up to and trust. Someone you will have your back in any situation. Keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t get too comfortable too fast. It takes a long time to develop trust but if you are patient and willing to stick with it, it will come, I promise.

Just remember, in 10-20 years from now how you felt as a new grad, and treat your young the same way you wanted to be treated. We need to stick together. Strong relationships make strong teams.

3. Teamwork is essential for survival.

It takes immense responsibility and commitment to dedicate yourself to a place that never closes, where fragile lives hang on the line, where you can celebrate life and grasp for it all on the same day. But you cannot do it all alone. Don’t try and be a soul hero. It takes a team to have things run smoothly, and it’s essential to have each other's back in every situation. Never shy away from another nurse or co-worker who is overwhelmed with a sick patient. You will be that nurse one day, and you would want others to have your back too. It takes courage to conquer fear. Do it early and often in your career, and you will grow to be everything you wanted, imagined and dreamed you’d be as a nurse.

4. Take time to be a nurse.

As nurses, we get caught up in numbers, statistics, and pathophysiology.

We are often so focused on the medical aspects of our job that we overlook the actual experience of being a nurse, the moments that can only be claimed by nurses. Step back and pause for a minute and put these moments into perspective. Take the time to focus on the now and be clear and present in your specific task. I promise you there can be peace found in even the most hectic of days, the kind of peace that can’t be seen by the naked eye, but felt by the heart. Look for these moments and celebrate them. They exist in every day.

5. Nobody cares how much you know until you show you care.

You WILL leave an impact that can last for years to come. Decide whether you want this to be negative or positive. It really is a choice. Remember why you wanted to be a nurse to begin with. Ask yourself this question; if everyone I work with interacted with patients and family member the way I did today, would it be a better or worse unit? Answer it, and if it isn’t the impression you want to leave then make sure you make an effort to change it. Stay grounded and keep asking yourself this question. Remember being perfect is never the goal, but being aware of your attitude and your interactions is. Never lose site of its importance.

Being a nurse you have the insight and opportunity to see change in people. But more importantly these same people will change you. Your career will have moments of intense happiness coupled with moments of sorrow, love, and sometimes loss.  Celebrate and acknowledge all these moments, learn from them, tuck them away in your heart, and refer to them often. They are what will make you a great nurse.

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