Life Past and Present
The sound of monitors beeping fills your ears and then in an instant it’s silent. Newborn infants in the NICU, some are struggling to survive and you are the one who saves them. A body lying on a cold, metal table, it is your duty to figure out what caused this death. All around you is life, whether it is past or present. These jobs aren’t for the faint of heart. You are saving lives or figuring out what destroyed one. Although a NICU nurse and medical examiner involve the medical field, that is nearly the only thing they have in common; these careers will be linked on their education requirements, salary, and the job description.
In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit you will find sickly, premature, or near death babies, and it is your one and only goal to save them. It is your initiative to save these tiny beings that have only just begun their lives here on Earth. Education is a key component in this job. Knowing how to treat your patients is of upmost importance. There are different levels in education you can achieve and work in the NICU. Your most basic level would be a baccalaureate degree that can be obtained from a four-year university. Next step up would be an associate degree, which can be obtained in two to three years from a junior or community college. If aiming for a more advanced position, you must go for a master’s or doctorate degree. Your level of education determines your salary. Basic nurse’s starting hourly rate is $22.33 with an additional $11.66 of overtime added to every hour making your total yearly income roughly $52,706. As you move up in education, your pay increases as well. For example, if you have a masters degree and are either a Registered Nurse or a Nurse Practioner you will make upwards of $42.26 with an overtime rate of $64.94 making up an annual salary of roughly $121, 059.
Not only is your education a requirement but also the ability to cope with every day challenges. An enormous part of your daily tasks are to reassure these tiny humans’ parents that they will make it another minute, hour, day, week, or year. Knowing how to cope with a loss of a baby doesn’t come natural to most people. You will grieve, but that process normally taking months needs to be gone through and out of your head in about two minutes. At that moment in time, it isn’t about you anymore, you did exactly what needed to be done to attempt to save a child. Obtaining the gift of communication is crucial; you as the nurse have to be able to calm the parents down. Reassure them that everything is going to be all right and never make promises you can’t keep.
In this career path, stress level on a scale of one to ten is about a fifteen, but you can’t let that break you. Day in and day out you will walk into a giant room filled with premature and sick babies in what resembles a clear tube connected to wires that are subsequently keeping them alive. In some cases, people find the NICU to be a scary place, and it is. You don’t want to end up there on any circumstances, but not every baby is born full term or without birth defects or even without complications. It’s a fact of life. For the special few who ever so chose to work in this environment don’t see it as a death sentence but rather as, “is that all you got?”.
Morgue, what is the first thought that pops to your head when you hear that word; metal, shiny, cold, eerie, death? For some those words are intriguing, they pull them in, like a tantalizing affair. Just like a NICU nurse you must have an education to become a Medical Examiner. You must obtain your MD with complete undergrad in addition to pre-med in chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, physics, and math. Typically this means fours years of college, four years of medical school and a residency. Much like the NICU there are different levels and forms of this job. On the base level, you start out as a forensics pathologist; with this you must pass the American