Career Story: Nursing Specialist In A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Nursing Specialist In A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Job Title: Newborn Hearing Screening Nurse

Type of Company: I work for a major hospital system, which is comprised of hospitals, emergency care centers, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.

Education: BS, Nursing, Georgetown University

Previous Experience: I worked as a nursing student in a neonatal intensive care unit while at Georgetown. I also worked in a nursing home as an aide and in a doctor's office as a "girl Friday," answering phones, scheduling appointments and so forth. My first real nursing job was in a Level II neonatal ICU, which was an excellent place to develop vital skills. After about eight years, I moved to a Level IV neonatal ICU where surgeries were performed.

Job Tasks: As the Newborn Hearing Screening Nurse, I'm responsible for assuring that every baby discharged from the neonatal ICU receives the appropriate hearing screening. (There are two different kinds.) To do this properly I have to screen the babies for diagnosis, gestational age and general health. After choosing the correct test and discussing it with the doctor, I direct the technicians and audiologists and assist with the testing. I also act as liaison between the testing facility and the state department of Health and ensure that we observe all state requirements.

After the parents have been notified of the test results, I explain them and make appropriate recommendations. A large part of my job is working with parents to arrange for follow-up testing.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working with parents. Urging them to be advocates for their children is extremely fulfilling and getting them over the bad news, when there is any, always leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.

The worst part of the job is the documentation. Every contact with a parent has to be documented, so the hospital will have a written record of when we met and what I said. This can be a drag.

Job Tips:
1.) Take as many computer courses as you can. Most of data is now being collected and charted in a database.

2.) While you're in school, get as much experience as you can. The more you see and try out, the easier it will be to decide what really interests you.

3.) Take courses in research. Most nursing practices have a researcher backing them up. If you want to change something, you need good research to make your appeal.

Additional Thoughts: Nursing is not like the drivel you see on TV. Nurses are an integral part of the care team. No matter which area you are in, the nursing assessments of the patient are critical to the physician's decisions. Your opinion counts! Sometimes, however, you must be strong enough to advocate for your patient.

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