What is a Neonatal Nurse and How Do I Become One?
Happy National Neonatal Nurses Week (September 11th-17th)
National neonatal nurses week (September 11th-17th) is upon us and it is time to pay appreciation to those who take care of our littlest ones. Neonatal nurses are tasked with the important job of implementing care for healthy and critical newborns. In honor of them, let’s take a look at what you can expect in the field of neonatal nursing and how to become a neonatal nurse.
What is Neonatal Nursing?
Neonatal nursing is a specialty of nursing that cares for newborns, which is typically considered the first month of life. These nurses care for healthy newborns and those with a variety of health complications. They have many responsibilities like any other nursing specialties, but they are a bit different.
Job Responsibilities of Neonatal Nurses
Because neonatal nurses are dealing with tiny humans who can’t express their needs quite yet, their job responsibilities are different. Here are just some of the job responsibilities of neonatal nurses:
- Be a patient advocate
- Educator to parents
- Detailed charting
- Identifying signs of trouble
- Assist in procedures
- Administer medications
- Patient care like diapering
- Performing CPR if needed
- Implementing treatment plans
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
The main difference in becoming a neonatal nurse versus a generalized nurse is in the certifications and experience you need not necessarily the education.
As far as education goes, neonatal nurses will need to complete an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass the NCLEX for RN licensure. Keep in mind that a lot of hospitals are starting to prefer a BSN. After licensure, you should try to build infant care experience in units like Pediatrics or Mother/Baby to make the transition to Neonatal much easier.
There are a lot of certifications that neonatal nurses can get including:
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program
- National Certification Corporation: Low-Risk Neonatal Nursing (RNC-LRN) and National Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC)
- Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM)
- Neonatal Pediatric Transport (C-NPT)
- American Association of Critical Care Nursing: CCRN for Neonates)
It is recommended that neonatal nurses at least have the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, and Electronic Fetal Monitoring certifications. Every position could require different certifications depending on the hospital and level of care.
Where Do Neonatal Nurses Work?
Unlike some other nursing specialties which have a variety of places that they can work, neonatal nurses only have a couple of places they can work. Most positions will be in a hospital in a level 2 or 3 nurseries. However, you might also come across some in-home neonatal nursing for neonates and infants with more chronic conditions.
Neonatal Nurse Salary and Growth
Salaries always depend on location, level of care, experience, and other key factors. However, according to ZipRecruiter, the average yearly salary for neonatal nurses is about $101,727. There is also a good future in neonatal nursing with an estimated 31% growth by 2024.
Is Neonatal Nursing for You?
Does neonatal nursing sound like something you would be interested in? Neonatal nursing is a vital specialty that could always use more passionate, caring nurses. Ask around and you will find some wonderful neonatal nurses. Talk to them about their experience! And for all of the current neonatal nurses out there, thank you for all you do!
Do you know a neonatal nurse or do you have some tips for becoming a neonatal nurse? Shout them out in the comments below!