NICU or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse is a specialized nursing field that works with newborns who require special attention 24 hours a day.
These babies are often born premature or were born with an illness, drug addiction, or other congenital disabilities.
Because of the work’s delicacy, being a NICU nurse requires strong emotional development, emotional stability, and the ability to remain optimistic in the face of setbacks or lack of development.
NICU nurses are the front line defenders in helping a newborn overcoming a struggle and going home. It requires a strong heart and expert knowledge.
The NICU is a competitive position for many nurses. It requires specialized training, licensure, and experience. Most people do not start their careers in the NICU but work their way there through other nursing posts.
Resume objective for a NICU nurse
Given the delicate and fragile state of NICU nurses’ patients, it probably comes as no surprise that a NICU nurse needs to have a track record of being compassionate, quick on their feet, and the ability to handle stress.
You will also need to be compassionate as you deal with family members of the babies in your care. NICU nurses often have to play the role of counselor, friend, and medical professional all at once.
NICU nurses work as part of a team and for long hours. A demonstration of team-work in your objective is a typical line we saw as we read through resumes; however, RealNurseGuide.com suggests avoiding generics.
They suggest using real examples to show how you are a team-player, fast-thinker and compassionate, etc.
Skilled and Experienced Nurse with 5+ of NICU experience. Worked side by side with the pediatric neonatal team and provided an optimal survival chance for infants in our care. Possess a strong ability to make decisions quickly and under pressure and made life-saving decisions related to administering therapeutic hypothermia, intestinal emergencies, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and heart disease.
Resume skills for a NICU nurse
The skills required for a NICU nurse include a long list of technical skills in addition to the soft skills that have been discussed so far.
NICU nurses require specialized training and education in order to learn about the technical equipment, procedures, and situations they will find themselves in.
RegisteredNursing.com provides excellent information on what a typical day is like and what challenges may present themselves when working in the NICU.
Technical skills include bottle feeding, blood product administration, Naso or orogastric feeding, IV insertion, and intubation.
Your skills section shouldn’t be overly long, so use this opportunity to list any specialized skills you have related to the field. If you are just starting in the NICU, list the most critical applicable skills you possess.
Advanced pulmonary skills | ICP monitoring | Reflex Assessment | IV medication administration, insertion, and removal | Newborn through 1-year-old care | Compassionate | Emotional Stability
NICU nursing work experience
Sample Work Experience
Lehigh Medical Center
Special Care Nursery, 2011-2019
I provided care for newborns and infants born at or after 32 weeks who required specialized care and those who had moved up from the NICU and needed additional care before release.
- Used apnea monitors, mechanical ventilators, oxygen hoods, CPAP, & endotracheal tubes
- Placed umbilical and urinary catheters
- Communicated with parents the purpose of treatments and equipment used
- Collaborated on a team of doctors, special care nurses, and NICU nurses
Lehigh Medical Center
Wellborn Nursery, 2007-2011
Cared for newborns born 35-40 weeks old in stable condition. Provided appropriate care for babies born sick or before 35 weeks of care until they could be moved to a nursery with a higher care level.
- Operated ventilators and CPAP machines
- Strong attention to details and changes in patients
- Demonstrated positive outlook and optimism
- Excellent verbal communication skills with doctors and family
Labor and Delivery Nurse, 2000 – 2006
Cared for women in labor from admittance up through delivery and assisted in the successful birth of over 1,200 babies. Monitored mother and baby’s vitals leading up to and through delivery and administered IVs and other medications per physicians’ orders.
- Skilled patient advocate
- Ability to work with a diverse population of patients
- Skilled in end-of-life issues and concerns
- Building strong connections with patients
NICU nursing education
Becoming a nurse requires special schooling and a license. People wishing to become a nurse can obtain an associates or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
According to RegisteredNursing.com, those seeking a career in the NICU should plan on obtaining a 4-year degree. While it is not always necessary hospitals, tend to favor them in NICU over a 2-year degree.
Advanced degrees are also an option for someone hoping to start their career at an advanced practice level. A neonatal-nurse practitioner is one advanced degree option.
Capella University lists fifteen advanced nursing degrees. If you seek work in the NICU, your best option is a master’s in neonatal nursing.
Other options could include certified nurse-midwife, critical care curse, perinatal nurse.
According to the dozens of sources we read through, hospitals tend to look for applicants who have experience in pediatrics or other related care areas.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 2000 – 2004
- Minor Human Development & Family Studies
- College of Health and Sciences Summer Internship Australia, 2003
If your school offers any specialized courses that you took or there are courses from your minor you feel would apply to the job posting, you can list them in a separate section.
Since most BSN programs are very similar, this section may not be necessary.
Another great reason to list courses is if your undergraduate degree is in a different field, and you have courses that relate to your job search for nursing.
Consider skills such as management, communications, psychology, etc.
- Child Development Birth-5
- Counseling Grief
- Parent-Child Relationships
Becoming a registered nurse in the United States requires a license. To obtain your license, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN or The National Council Licensure Examination.
After passing the NCLEX-RN you will need to become licensed in your state. Nurse Journal neatly outlines all the steps to becoming a nurse and positively reports that 92% of BSN graduates pass the exam.
You are able to take the exam eight times with a 45-day waiting period between each exam.
Being a nurse also requires continuing education. Once you are licensed and hired, it is best to discuss with your place of employment where and how you can obtain your CEUs.
There is a specialized certification for neonatal nurses that cannot be earned until you have worked for two years in the field or achieved 2,000 hours of work in the neonatal field.
You can specialize your neonatal certification by selecting a subspecialty certification.
Options are Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM), Neonatal Pediatric Transport (C-NPT), Care of the Extremely Low Birth Weight Neonate (C-ELBW), Neonatal Neuro-Intensive Care (C-NNIC), Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety (C-ONQS)
- RN State of Virginia
- Neonatal Neuro-Intensive Care
Complete NICU nursing resume sample
Below is a current job posting for a NICU nursing position. We will discuss a few elements of this posting and follow it with a complete sample resume for a NICU nurse.
The very first thing that caught my eye was that they will only accept applicants with a 4-year degree and that you are willing to obtain specialty certification once eligible.
They are also very honest about what it is like working in a NICU, siting possible exposure to disease and unpleasant conditions while caring for the sick.
Experienced CPN with 10+ years of pediatric and newborn nursing care seeking a NICU position to use the skills I’ve learned to treat infants in need of specialized care. Demonstrated ability to work in high-stress and faced paced environments while working in the pediatric ER.
Expert in Breastfeeding | Experience with infants 32 weeks to 2-years | Able to lift 35 lbs | Experienced in modes of ventilation | IV Therapy and medication administration | Excellent communication skills | Experience in grief
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s hospital
Emergency Pediatric Nurse, 2015-2020
Provided care for pediatric emergency room patients. Delivered patient care in line with neonatal, pediatric, and adolescent patients’ needs regarding their growth and development process.
- Related information to parents/guardians in a calm, informative way
- Maintained up to date nursing licensure through continuing ed.
- Performed nursing assessments
- Able to calm children when scared or nervous
NorthShore University Health System
Pediatric Nurse, 2010-2015
Provided safe, effective, and compassionate nursing care for patients and communicated with parents throughout treatment. Worked with children newborn through eighteen years old.
- Communicated and collaborated with members of the healthcare team to achieve optimal results
- Assessed patient conditions
- Maintained detailed records on paper and electronically
- Administered vaccinations, medications and performed diagnostic tests
Nurse Intern, 2009-2010
Participated in the 8-week nursing internship program working as a nursing assistant and shadowing on-call nurses.
- Measured and recorded patient vital signs
- Prepared meals and helped patients eat
- Cleaned equipment and sanitized tools
- Listened to and recorded patient health concerns
- RN State of Illinois
- Certified Pediatric Nurse CPN
- Certified Lactation Counselor CLC
- AHA CPR – exp 9/2022
University of Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 2005-2009
- Minor in Public Health
- Member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing
The path to becoming a NICU nurse can be a lengthy one, but for those with the drive and dedication to get there, they will ultimately change many individuals’ lives.
- Find work or specialize in pediatrics or neonatal to give you a boost
- A 4-year degree is more likely to get you hired in the NICU
- Continuing education and certifications are required in this field
Tips from Experts
“The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe.” – Florence Nightingale, Founder of Modern Nursing
“You don’t ask for praise or for recognition but instead unwaveringly continue your amazing work bringing new life into our world. You continue to demonstrate that despite your technical mastery and the advancement of modern medicine, it is the human to human relationships and simple acts of kindness that sometimes mean the most.” – HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in her letter to Midwives for the Year of the Nurse
“Nurses are the heart of healthcare.” – Donna Wilk Cardillo, RN & Keynote Speaker
Whether you are new to nursing or looking for a career change, those who wish to work in the NICU are dedicated and strong individuals.
It takes a quick thinker, a large heart, and the ability to show compassion to work with the youngest and most fragile patients.