Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses care for the smallest, most vulnerable patient population — infants. Let's find out more about what they do and what the NICU travel nursing job outlook is for the next decade.
- Where do NICU nurses work?
- What does a NICU nurse do?
- How much does a NICU nurse make?
- What is the job outlook for a NICU nurse?
The Job Outlook for NICU Nurses in 2023
Where do NICU nurses work?
One popular question about NICU nurses is where do they work? Spoiler: NICU travel nursing jobs are typically available in the NICU in a hospital. But these nurses may work in other healthcare settings, too!
Within the NICU, there are three levels of the unit that these healthcare professionals may spend time in.
Level II NICU
Care for infants born at 32 weeks gestation and above or full-term babies in need of close observation due to things like birth defects. This level includes close monitoring of vital signs, weight, and fluid status. Nurses on this level often administer IV fluids and medications.
Level III NICU
Care for infants born before 32 weeks gestation weighing under 1,500 grams, or any gestation considered critically ill. Typical care at this level includes close observation, use of ventilators, and care of infants needing surgery.
Level IV NICU
What does a NICU nurse do?
NICU RNs provide care for high-risk infants with a variety of medical and surgical conditions. This care can range from daily care like feeding, bathing, and changing diapers, to comprehensive assessments like checking oxygen levels, vital signs, fluid intake, and waste output.
More specific tasks depend on the patient care plan but can include providing tube feedings, administering medication, or giving IV fluids and blood transfusions. Other duties include:
- Attending high-risk deliveries and responding to neonatal emergencies in labor and delivery units.
- Conducting screening tests such as hearing and vision tests, and evaluating results.
- Updating and counseling families regarding medical problems and proper health care methods for their infant.
- Providing nursing care for neonatal heart transplant patients and infants on extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation.
- Performing advanced practice procedures such as endotracheal intubation, intraosseous vascular access, and needle thoracostomy.
Because you work with the tiniest of patients, neonatal nurses need advanced certifications if you want to accept travel nursing jobs. Along with things like basic life support, NICU travel nurses must be well versed and certified in things like the Neonatal Resuscitation Program to be able to perform life-saving procedures on infants in the neonatal ICU.
How much does a NICU travel nurse make?
According to Ziprecruiter, the average salary for a NICU registered nurse is $97,000 a year. This rate fluctuates depending on location, seasonality, experience, and more. And not to brag but, NICU travel nurse jobs have the potential to earn more due to the specialized care they provide as well as the demand for this type of travel nurse.
What is the job outlook for a NICU nurse?
Good news: NICU travel nursing professionals are currently in demand! Analysts predict that the job market for NICU RNs will grow 12% from 2018 to 2028.
In general, the employment for RNs is projected to increase 6% from 2021 to 2031. That breaks down to about 203,200 job openings for RNs every year, on average, over the decade. These openings are expected as the result of the growth of the aging population as well as the need to replace nurses who have left the field.
This means there's never been a better time to become a NICU nurse or for registered nurses to specialize in the NICU. It also means it’s a great time to become a travel neonatal intensive care nurse! With a higher demand for the job comes more assignments to choose from all over the country, competitive salaries, and career development opportunities. Win-win-win.
Ready to take the leap as a travel NICU nurse? Browse travel NICU nurse jobs that allow you to continue to perform life saving work with patients who need you.