Neonatal nurses are nurse practitioner professionals who provide care for infants that are born prematurely. They specialize in acute care for babies and premature infants born with health problems such as infections, birth defects, or heart deformities. They usually work with infants but can also work with young children. They are trained to deal with infants and in taking care of them while also knowing procedures such as blood drawing, intravenous infusions, and administering oxygen.
The Career of Neonatal Nurses
Neonatal nurses have numerous different tasks from changing diapers to medication administration. They work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Neonatal care usually involves monitoring up to four infants at a time in intensive care. They work with the infant in the intensive care unit until they are discharged; however, if they need home care then they are authorized to provide that also. As well as gaining clinical experience in nursing, neonatal nurses can obtain additional certification to allow them to work with surgical teams or even provide assistance during delivery situations that are at high risk.
Becoming a Neonatal Nurse
In order to become a neonatal nurse and take care of sick babies who may be critically ill, students must first become a registered nurse and work toward a degree and other certification. You have the following continuing education to becoming a RN:
- Diploma from a hospital-based school of nursing (or college of nursing)
- Associate’s degree
- Neonatal nurse practitioner certification
- Bachelor’s degree at a 4-year college
- Master’s degree (not necessarily needed)
Once you complete the education, you will need to become licensed by sitting and passing the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
After becoming a registered nurse, you can take up internship working in NICU to get a bit of experience. The number of years of experience varies but the more experience you have the better chances of becoming a neonatal nurse. You can gain certification in this period also through the National Certification Corporation (NCC) for various neonatal credentials. After your RN credentials, it usually takes another 2–3 years to perfect the neonatal skills required and become an actual neonatal nurse.