Becoming A Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nursing is a field within nursing that involves caring for the newborns and premature babies. Nurses with neonatal specialty work as primary caregivers for babies that need special care. Depending on their own choice, aspiring neonatal nurses can practice in Levels I, II, and III neonatal centers. Level I includes Newborn Nursery, Level II involves Intermediate Care Nursery and Level III entails Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery.

Numerous newborns require special care as they are born with certain abnormalities and disorders. Neonatal nurses are trained to provide medical care to these babies and ensure they get healthy. They may also take the baby's temperature, change diapers, feed milk and administer medicines. These nurses may also keep a record of the health details of the patients which is useful for doctors to detect the changes and do a diagnosis. Other responsibilities of neonatal nurses may include contacting the parents of the baby in emergency situations and sending e-mails to the doctors.
These nurses can work in a variety of settings such as hospital neonatal intensive care units, specialty practices and more. To become a nurse with this specialty, students need to fulfill the neonatal nurse education and licensing requirements.
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
If you are interested in pursuing a career in neonatal nursing, you must obtain an RN degree. You can enroll in an associate or bachelor’s program that takes 2 years and 4 years to complete respectively. The coursework in RN programs includes topics such as pharmacology, human anatomy, and more. In addition to classroom learning, students also need to complete a clinical practicum that allows them to get a hands-on training in nursing. Aspiring neonatal nurses need to get an RN license as well.
A master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in neonatal nursing is also an option. Students can earn this advanced degree in 1-3 years and learn neonatal pharmacotherapeutics, advanced neonatal assessment, and developmental physiology. Those who hold a graduate degree can opt for post-grad neonatal nurse certification.
Career Prospects for Neonatal Nurses
Just as other RNs, the demand for nurses with neonatal nursing education is rising. Students with degrees in neonatal nursing can pursue promising career opportunities and earn competitive salaries. On average, neonatal nurses can earn from $39,000 to $113,000 per year. The income of these nurses may vary by state, and job experience.
Online Nursing Degrees
Working nurses seeking a career in Neonatal nursing can enroll in online nursing degree and improve their career prospects. The online programs in nursing make a great learning option because of their flexibility and affordability. Students can enroll in online classes from any location and study at their own pace. Keeping in view that busy professionals cannot make it to regular classes offered at traditional schools, online degrees have emerged as learning solutions of the day. As these programs are also more cost effective than regular degrees, they can make a suitable option for those who have limited financial means.

Neonatal nursing involves working with newborn babies, especially those with problems ranging from premature birth to birth defects. Neonatal nurses evaluate patients, interpret labs, and monitor infants to ensure best chances of recovery.

There are three levels of neonatal nursing based on the condition of the babies:

  • Level I: Caring for healthy infants
  • Level II: Caring for premature and sick babies
  • Level II: Caring for seriously ill and premature babies who need constant attention while on life support systems

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse

To become a neonatal nurse, first you need to have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or a master of science in nursing (MSN) from an institution accredited by The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). After these qualifications, you will become a registered nurse. Following this, you should work for at least two years in a neonatal unit before taking up graduate courses which can help you specialize in neonatal nursing.

Neonatal nursing programs are offered as part of continuing professional education and consist of modules which focus on different aspects of neonatal nursing. Most programs are delivered through collaboration between higher education institutions and health care trusts and many of them have the option of online learning. Financial aid may also be available.

If you hold a valid license as a registered nurse and have a master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in neonatal care, the next step is to pass the National Certification as a Neonatal Nursing Practitioner. The examination is conducted by the National Certification Corporation and is available on specific dates as a paper and pencil test or year round as a computer test. You may also choose to get certification in either neonatal resuscitation or neonatal intensive care.

Other than the education and certification, the job also demands you to have some personal skills such as good interpersonal skills, empathy for the children and their families, and ability to function under extremely stressful situations. You should also have sound knowledge of the psychology and physiology of newborn babies and most of all, you should love working with babies.

Ask an Expert

Q:Can you please tell me how to become a neonatal nurse?

A:To become a neonatal nurse, you must have a nursing degree at bachelor level with specialization in this field. Apart from the degree, it is recommended that you also earn a certification from a recognized association. You will have to acquire at least 2 or 3 years of experience in a healthcare setting. Browse through our page for more information.

Q:While searching for neonatal nurse salary figures, I came across the basic job duties of these nurses. Can you tell me about them?

A:Neonatal nurses are medical professionals who provide healthcare services to infants and newborn babies. The job description usually includes the following: monitor babies for medical complications, administer medication, diagnose health issues and complications, and educate mothers regarding care of babies. Take a look at our page for more information about neonatal nursing.

Q:How to become a neonatal nurse?

A:To become a neonatal nurse, you must have a RN degree. This is a nursing degree that will equip you with basic nursing skills and also qualify you for a license. The next step is to acquire training as a nurse and plenty of work experience. You can then enroll in bachelor and masters degree in nursing and specialize in neonatal nursing. There are also a number of certification programs available in neonatal nursing.

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