As a NICU nurse, you’re oftentimes required to maintain multiple certifications. Usually, it’s a combination of basic life support (BLS), neonatal resuscitation program (NRP), and sugar, temperature, airway, blood pressure, lab work, emotional support (S.T.A.B.L.E.). But what about receiving your pediatric advanced life support (PALS)?
I truly believe that as a nurse, especially in the intensive care setting, it’s important to go above and beyond what is required of you. This shows management that you’re interested in advancing your career, this shows other providers and nurses that you’re eager to learn and want to know and understand what’s going on with your patients. And it truly gives you a leg up whether you’re applying for other jobs, going back to school, or even being paired with a sick patient.
As a NICU nurse, in most cases, you aren’t required to obtain your PALS certification. However, I believe that to thrive, we should always be pushing ourselves to learn more, do better, and be more competent when caring for the world’s most vulnerable patients. Below you’ll find out why I believe that all NICU nurses should obtain their PALS certification.
Why You Should Receive Your PALS Certification As a NICU Nurse
Before reading further, or getting stressed about having to take another test… remember that this is only to expand your knowledge base. Try not to place too much pressure on yourself and instead – have fun with it. If you’re a new nurse working in the NICU, unless it’s required, I wouldn’t recommend striving for PALS until you’ve worked for at least a year in the NICU and have gotten your footing with basic resuscitation and NRP. And remember, always ask your hospital (or recruiter if you’re a travel nurse) if they will reimburse you for your certification.
If you do plan to take PALS, make sure to read: How to Study for the NCLEX, PALS, NRP, and Other Certifications You Need As a Nurse
Some Hospitals Require it
Some hospitals do require that nurses working in the NICU have their PALS certification. I find that this is usually at children’s hospitals where the patient population is older than your typical preemie or newborn. (In fact, I’ve worked in some NICUs that require PALS and not NRP). Remember, if the hospital does require it then they should be footing the bill.
You’re Prepared if You Have to Float
If you work at a hospital with a PICU, usually nurses are required to float between the two units if there are staffing shortages. (This can apply to pediatric floors as well). If you float, you’ll more than likely be paired with an appropriate assignment, but it’s important that you’re always prepared. Even if your hospital requires floating but doesn’t require PALS, it’s a good idea to obtain it so that you can be the best nurse that you can be.
I worked in a hospital that did not require NICU nurses to obtain their PALS certification but they did require floating between the NICU and the PICU. On my first night orienting to the PICU, my patient coded. At the time I did not have my PALS certification and although there was adequate help on the unit and amazing nurses who knew what to do, I felt pretty lost. After that incident, I realized the importance of keeping my license safe and patients safe regardless of whether or not the hospital required that I have PALS.
Read more: Tips for Nurses Who Have to Float
If You Want to Be a Travel Nurse
Sure, your hospital may not require that you obtain your PALS certification… but what if you want to be a travel nurse? Travel nurses are always required to float and if you already have your PALS you’ll stand out amongst the other NICU nurses who are applying for jobs. Even if you don’t end up floating, this still sends a good message to management that you’ve gone above and beyond to learn what may be outside of your scope of practice.
If you do want to be a travel nurse, I have tons of information on travel nursing here. And if you’re serious about making the leap from staff nurse to travel nurse, I urge you to purchase The Ultimate Travel Nurse Bundle. This is an in-depth guide to everything you need to know about travel nursing and is the perfect place to start whether you’re a new grad or seasoned nurse.
To Expand Your Knowledge
The final reason you should get PALS as a NICU nurse is simply to – expand your knowledge! As a nurse, it’s important to never stop learning, to strive to keep up with relevant research and up-to-date guidelines and to stay hungry for knowledge and opportunities. Things in medicine are always changing and there is always new and fascinating research out there.
If you’re a NICU nurse reading this, do you plan to get your PALS certification? Why? Let me know in the comments below!