There’s nothing easy about being a nurse – you knew that going into nursing school, or you learned it quickly when you had your first practical experience. And while being a nurse in any capacity has its challenges, being a NICU, or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse may be one of the hardest subsets of nursing there is.
We don’t say that to discourage you – fifteen percent of the people you know were NICU babies, and would not be here today without the help of NICU nurses.
Here’s what to expect, both realistically and emotionally, when signing up to be a NICU travel nurse.
NICU Nurse Hours
When it comes to shifts and work schedules, NICU nurses are not unique. They have the same long hours as other nursing sub-specialties, and often have to work nights, holidays, and weekends.
With that said, those long shifts allow you to really get to know each (tiny!) patient, their families and provide the level of care that parents of NICU babies remember for a lifetime to come.
Salaries depend on where you are, what hospital you work at, what you’re willing to do as a nurse (like travel!), and state taxes. That said, the average salary estimate for a NICU nurse is between $50,000 – $80,000 a year.
That’s more than enough to pay off your nursing school loans if you budget well – and that doesn’t include the benefits.
Essentially your job is to provide hope and save lives, which in the end, is priceless.
While being a nurse will always involve some level of grief, including coaching your patients through their own, being a NICU nurse has a higher level of emotional turmoil than say, a general clinic nurse does.
Not only will you have to see the suffering and illness of tiny babies, but as one nurse says, you have to watch every parent grieve the idea that they’re not going to have the quick delivery and coming-home experience they were imagining with their baby.
It can also be harder to see those infant patients pass away, as they had such a short and unlived life. Each day is truly an emotional roller coaster.
You’ll Be a Ray of Hope
Not all NICU journeys are bad. Yes, no parent wants their child to have to be in the NICU, but there are plenty of happy stories – even miracles – that you’ll get to experience alongside your patients. Many NICU parents remember their nurse’s names for the rest of their lives, which shows that you can truly make a difference in the world!
Finding the Perfect NICU Nurse Position
If none of that scares you, but rather excites you, then you’re the perfect fit to become a NICU nurse. Want to still keep a sense of adventure while being a nurse, providing for yourself, and paying off student loans?
Look into travel nursing! Our agency will work with you from step one (learning what travel nursing is), to finding you a job, to making sure you get paid what you deserve.
Search our site to take the next step in your nursing career, today!