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How Long do You have to go to School to Become a Neonatal Nurse?

A neonatal nurse is an individual who has received specialized training in the care of newborn infants. These individuals may be responsible for the care of healthy infants as well as those that are premature or ill. Some neonatal nurses work exclusively with newborns that are seriously ill in specialized neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs. Becoming a neonatal nurse requires a person to be a registered nurse with at least a BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. In addition to the joy of caring for newborns, a neonatal nurse can expect to earn an average annual salary of about $80,000 a year.

The amount of time it will take to earn certification to become a neonatal nurse will depend on the specialty that individual is interested in pursuing. There are generally three levels in this particular specialty. Level I neonatal nurses are tasked with caring for healthy infants. The demand for individuals with this particular specialty is on the rise as newborn babies and their mothers often stay in the same room after birth. Level II nurses are in even higher demand because of the constant attention that premature and sick infants need.

Level III neonatal nurses have the greatest responsibility of all because they are responsible for constantly monitoring premature and seriously ill infants in neonatal intensive care units. They monitor incubators and ventilators and monitor the babies around the clock as well as instructing parents in the proper way to care for their infants. Neonatal nurses of all levels generally work closely with other nurses, neonatologists and parents in order to provide the highest level of care possible for their patients. Individuals with this specialty can find employment in hospitals, clinics and even in community-based facilities.

Because of the high level of specialization and education required to become a neonatal nurse, it can take substantially longer to earn this particular training. The length of time will vary depending on the institution that an individual chooses to enroll in and the level of training that they are interested in receiving. On average, a person can become a neonatal nurse in approximately 3 to 5 years. Some schools may offer accelerated programs that allow person to earn their education in a shorter amount of time, but this often requires exceptional study habits. Because the demand for qualified individuals with this specialty is expected to increase, qualified neonatal nurses will not likely have difficulty finding employment.