Neonatal nursing is best thought of as the offering of healthcare nursing to newborn infants. These newborn infants, as students in nursing programs will learn, have to be no older than 28 days old. The word “neonatal” itself comes from the word “neo,” which itself comes from “natal” and “new,” meaning a reference to either origin or birth. Nurses who work in neonatal nursing occupations are an integral part of the neonatal care team. Possessing a good nursing education is a hallmark of neonatal nurses, since they work in a specialized field.
People can get hired for nurse jobs in this specialized field of nursing after they complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. After a nurse has obtained his or her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, the next step for the nurse is to apply to gain entry into a formal training program that is found inside of a clinic or hospital. While said training program is ongoing, a nurse can even opt to take a written exam in order to obtain registered nurse credentials, which would allow him or her to actually work without a supervisor micromanaging. Even after a nurse has completed an LPN program or online LPN programs, he or she may still have to be trained further at a hospital or clinic before he or she is given clearance to work in the neonatal intensive care department.
Further Education Requirements
Someone who wants to pursue a real nursing career in this specialty is going to need to pursue a Master’s Degree through online nursing programs or programs at a traditional university. Getting a Master’s Degree allows a nurse to not only get the necessary qualifications for this specialty, but also to advance up the career ladder. After taking online RN programs or a traditional RN program and getting a Master’s Degree, a nurse can then pursue the next highest career position, which is that of the nurse practitioner. If a nurse wants to become a head nurse, administrative professional or a supervisor inside of an intensive care unit, he or she needs to obtain a special license for that purpose. A final career path option for the neonatal nurse is to go on to become an obstetrician by attending medical school.
The daily routine for a neonatal nurse revolves mainly around babies and newborns. For example, a neonatal nurse can specialize in looking after healthy newborns as well as helping to monitor and treat both premature and sick babies. The daily routine for a neonatal nurse can also require him or her to deal with parents in a caring, counseling way, as well as to interact with physicians who are providing treatment and diagnostic procedures. A neonatal nurse can also be exclusively involved in helping physicians deliver healthy babies and ensuring that new moms are kept as steady and healthy as possible. Post-delivery, a neonatal nurse can then monitor the all-important vital signs of a newborn baby, while checking to see if the child is responsive. Finally, the neonatal nurse turns their attention to the parents, promoting interaction between the new mother and her child and teaching her how to feed, care and hold the newborn.
The work environment of a neonatal nurse can be varied. In the aforementioned example, the neonatal nurse would be working primarily in delivery rooms, checking on and dealing with the newborn babies. If a neonatal nurse works inside an intensive care unit, the nurse’s job is to assist physicians and surgeons who need to address babies who have either serious illnesses or congenital defects. In an intensive care unit, the duties of a neonatal nurse include establishing breathing tubes and administering feeding tubes, helping with delicate surgical operations, and checking vital signs.
The nurse specialty of neonatal nursing is a pretty high-in-demand nursing specialty, which brings with it higher pay as a consequence of the laws of supply and demand. In the U.S. alone, a nurse working in this specialty can expect to make an average, yearly salary of about $74,000, but the range for this type of nursing specialty is $50,000 to around $90,000. Some neonatal nurses will make a salary that is towards the lower end of this pay scale, and some neonatal nurses will make a salary that is towards the higher end of the pay scale. The neonatal nurses with the higher type of degree, longer work experience and geographic location that is closer to a big, metropolitan area can expect to make closer to $90,000, while those neonatal nurses who are new to the field and have no Master’s Degree yet make closer to about $50,000 a year. The job outlook for the field of neonatal nursing is very good, with the number of job openings only expected to grow even more in the coming years. The reason for this has to do with the demand and supply laws, which relate to the fact that the birth of babies is a consistent reality, meaning that the need for neonatal nurses is also indefinite for the future.
Nursing schools turn out some competent neonatal nurses these days, and the neonatal nurse spends the vast majority of their daily routine with newborn babies, both sick ones as well as healthy ones. Aside from dealing directly with newborn babies, a neonatal nurse also has to deal with parents, with whom he or she will have to be extra patient and attentive to, as well as physicians and surgeons who are treating the newborn arrivals. The educational demands of a neonatal nurse are, like many other nursing specialties, quite rigorous; neonatal nurses have some career mobility options ahead of them if they decide to pursue a Master’s Degree and seek licensing along with specific training that deals with newborns. A neonatal nurse works in either the intensive care unit (if the newborn baby is somehow born sick) and in the delivery room, where he or she helps physicians who deliver the newborn.
To learn more about neonatal nursing, see these links.
- NICU Nurse
- What is a Neonatal Nurse?
- Facts on Neonatal Nursing
- Profile on Neonatal Nursing
- NANN Website
- Description of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Neonatal Journal Nursing Website
- Academy of Neonatal Nursing Website
- AWHONN Website