Q: How is a NICU nurse different from a regular maternity-ward nurse?
A: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses receive several months of intensive classroom and hands-on training, where they learn specialized cardiac and respiratory care; how to work the various machines, such as respirators; how to evaluate monitor readings; and how to administer emergency care. The only nurses who can work in the NICU are those who have this special training. The other job requirements -- calmness, compassion, good communication skills, and a love for helping children in crisis -- can't be learned in a classroom. For nurses who choose to work in the NICU, it's all about loving the babies, giving them the best care possible, and doing everything you can to make sure they have a good outcome.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006. Updated 2009