SusAnne didn’t always want to be a NICU nurse – in fact, she vehemently wanted to stay far away from this specialty. But fate brought her to the NICU. In her interview with us, she openly describes the rewards, the heartaches and the joys accompanied by spending her days with premature babies and their families. Grab your tissues!
Why did you choose to specialize in NICU?
I honestly cannot remember not wanting to be a nurse. But, the idea of becoming a NICU nurse or anything to do with newborns, or children, was completely out of the question! Of course, as luck would have it, my six days of preceptorship in nursing school was assigned to the NICU! I was absolutely scared to death.
My first day took me to levels of horror, excitement, joy, sadness and contentment, just to name a few, all rolled up into one! On top of my initial fear of this specialty, somehow water got into the oxygen delivery system, so all ten of our infants had to be shipped out to area facilities. It was quite the exhausting day.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I absolutely love being a part of these little miracles’ lives. Knowing that I’ve had their life literally in my hands, watching their every move, knowing when that little burrito bundle of joy just isn’t acting quite right, trying to convince the team that my suggestion(s) are warranted, and not letting them leave until I get what I want. I love watching them grow, thrive, and struggle to overcome their debilitations – this makes it all worth it!
What is the most difficult part of your job?
While the NICU can be very rewarding, it can also be extremely heart wrenching. Having to sit
by the parents’ side while the Neonatologist, or another member of the team, tells them that their seemingly perfect, long-awaited newborn, has some congenital defect, and he/she will not grow up as normally as they had prepared for. Or worse, not going to be able to grow up at all, but only have a few days or weeks. You become an extended part of these families, where you laugh, and cry with them, feeling joy, feeling sadness, and feeling all of the emotions that they feel. Then you go home and kiss your own children, and thank God for their health.
Why would you encourage other nurses/nursing students to specialize in NICU?
It is such a rewarding career. When you make the decision to become a NICU nurse, it is the scariest, yet most comforting, feeling ever. Knowing that with any avenue of nursing, you typically hold life in your hands, the NICU is quite different. You literally hold life in your hands, and it’s absolutely amazing! You will eat, sleep, and breathe NICU nursing.
Describe a typical day in the life of a NICU travel nurse.
The NICU is a very unique place; it is the only area in the hospital where you are celebrating new life, or saying goodbye at the same time. I am meticulous about the state of the baby’s bedside and the baby himself, so I typically revamp the entire area when I come on shift if the nurse before me wasn’t quite thorough enough. This is all in the best interest of the baby, of course, and for my state of mind for the rest of my shift! The rest of the day is spent carrying out different orders from rounds, repositioning the infant, feeding, changing, and holding them for comfort.
Do any particular patient stories come to mind that continue to inspire you to keep doing the important work you’ve chosen?
Every day that I am able to be a part of the NICU community is my inspiration. I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else with my life.
How has working with Cirrus enriched your experience as a traveler/nurse?
Cirrus Medical Staffing has been very in tune with my needs and wants as a travel nurse. My recruiter, Heather Fortman, has been there with me every step of the way. She’s listened to my concerns, anger, laughter, requests, and needs, all while maintaining her professionalism. Being a part of a company that appreciates their employees is very rare, and I am glad to be a part of the Cirrus Medical family.
Are you inspired by SusAnne’s story? We place nurses in NICU specialties like it’s our job (because it is), and it would be our pleasure to find your next travel assignment in the NICU. Search our jobs or contact us!