Understanding how to become a neonatal nurse is crucial if you are aspiring to become one. The good thing is, this article will treat that fully.
However, becoming a neonatal nurse is a selfless act of empathy and compassion. It requires self-assurance, dedication, and advanced nursing skills. It can also provide a meaningful and rewarding job for the proper people.
In the United States, there are more than 205,000 nurse practitioners, with neonatal nurse practitioners accounting for about 3% of the total. Increased participation in future surveys will aid in the development of long-term solutions to the profession’s personnel dilemma.
Keep reading as we help you with how to become a neonatal nurse.
Who is a Neonatal Nurse?
Before we look into how to become a neonatal nurse, let’s look at who a neonatal nurse is.
A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). This nurse has worked as a bedside registered nurse in a level III NICU for at least two years.
Also, the nurse is qualified to provide primary, acute, chronic, and critical care to neonates, babies, and toddlers up to the age of two.
NNPs select and perform clinically recommended advanced diagnostic and therapeutic invasive procedures in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) settings.
In the United States, a board-certified neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP-BC) is an APRN. But an APRN with a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing and board certification in neonatology.
The National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NANNP) is a national organization in the United States. This organization represents neonatal nurse practitioners.
The National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing Specialties oversee certification (NCC).
Why Become a Neonatal Nurse
Here are the benefits of becoming a neonatal nurse;
1. Providing the greatest possible environment for babies
A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse provides specialised care for premature babies. These babies may be suffering from respiratory sickness, heart issues, infections, or other life-threatening disorders.
Additionally, neonatal nurses work as part of a team to help small infants. They help infants overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, nursing them until they’re strong enough to go home.
Infant survival rates are improving thanks to medical advancements and the efforts of doctors, neonatal nurses, and other NICU staff. One of the most important neonatal nurse advantages is the ability to make a difference.
2. Being a dependable source of support for families
Fear, melancholy, worry, and guilt sometimes overwhelm parents as they adjust to having a child in the NICU.
Families who are struggling to cope need someone to lean on. A neonatal nurse works closely with parents. They offer assistance to families whose kids may be in neonatal intensive care for weeks or months.
3. Educating parents on specific caregiving techniques
Neonatal nurses prepare families to take their kids home as babies begin to grow weight, breathe, and eat on their own.
However, parents are pleased about this prospect. But they are also concerned about being totally responsible for a newborn. A newborn who has been under the cautious eye of NICU professionals since birth, according to the journal Neonatal Network.
Furthermore, neonatal nurses educate parents on basic infant care. They also educate on how to provide medicine, oxygen, tube feedings, and other therapies if necessary, during this crucial transition period.
Also, helping parents acquire confidence in their ability to care for their newborns on their own may be quite rewarding.
Before thinking about how to become a neonatal nurse, why not ponder on these benefits first.
Other Reasons to Become a Neonatal Nurse
Below are the other importance of being a neonatal nurse;
- 1. Taking your career to the next level
Your career path might lead to leadership and mentorship possibilities as your expertise and knowledge improve.
The National Association of Neonatal Nurses lists various opportunities for neonatal nurses to advance, including:
- A nurse manager will be in charge of the NICU’s personnel and administration.
- Staff will receive educational support from a clinical nurse specialist.
- A developmental care specialist will assist in meeting the developmental needs of babies.
- The role of the neonatal nurse practitioner in critical care will be expanded.
- 2. Possibilities for a long-term work
A NICU nurse’s specialized talents are in high demand in increasingly congested newborn critical care units. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics in 2015 found a six-year increase in NICU admissions.
In addition, many NICU newborns are premature or have a low birth weight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the preterm birth rate climbed for the fourth year in a row in 2018. With one out of every ten babies born before their due date (CDC).
Premature babies require special medical attention in about half of the cases.
According to the CDC, the number of newborns born with low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) climbed for the third year in a row to 8.3 percent in 2017. Since 2006, this is the highest rate.
- 3. Finding a way to combine a fulfilling job with thrilling travel
Neonatal nurses are in high demand around the country. They offer you the option to work in a variety of desirable places on short-term NICU travel nursing assignments.
Ultimately, while working in the city of your choice, you can typically earn better rates than permanent RN employment.
Also, you may receive additional non-taxable benefits to cover food, transportation, and accommodation.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Neonatal Nurse?
Knowing how long it takes to become a neonatal nurse answers one of the ‘how to become a neonatal nurse’ questions.
A nursing degree is required for neonatal nurses. An associate degree takes around two years to complete whereas a BSN takes four years if you study full-time. At a top nursing school, a nursing degree can cost up to $60,000 per year.
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
Below is a list of how to become a neonatal nurse;
- Recognize the unique job of a neonatal nurse
Neonatal nurses have the knowledge and training in neonatology. That is, to care for babies from the time they are born until they leave the hospital.
Additionally, survival rates for babies born prematurely or who become ill after birth are now 10 times better than. Better than they were 15 years ago, according to the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN).
All thanks to medical advances and the efforts of the doctors, surgeons, and NICU nurses who care for them.
- Is a career as a neonatal nurse the best fit for you?
You might be an ideal candidate for being a difference-maker for infants and their families if you have a soft spot for babies and a calm, confident demeanour.
You can become a variety of nurses, including those who work with children. This includes; a pediatric nurse or a labor and delivery nurse. You may find out what type of nursing is right for you by taking our nursing personality test.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN)
It’s no secret that the more knowledge you have, the further you may advance in practically any subject. But this is especially true in nursing.
According to the Institute of Medicine, by 2020, 80 percent of all nurses should have earned a bachelor’s degree. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree are sought by hospitals seeking “Magnet” designation.
Furthermore, fragile neonates are only cared for by experienced, qualified nurses. To work as a neonatal nurse, you must first obtain a CCNE-accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Obtain a degree from a reputable university.
There is a path to follow to gain the certifications you need to pursue a career as a neonatal nurse. No matter where you are on the nursing continuum.
- Become a Registered Nurse by passing the NCLEX-RN exam (RN)
Every registered nurse in the United States must take (and pass) the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The test is designed to assess your knowledge in four areas of nursing, including:
- Environments of care that are both safe and effective
- Promotion and maintenance of good health
- How to maintain psychosocial integrity and cope with the pressures of being a nurse
- Your physical well-being and your capacity to provide excellent nursing care
However, it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience to study for and pass the NCLEX.
In fact, as a future neonatal nurse, you’ll do well to listen to RNs who share their success tips.
- Work in a neonatal facility to gain clinical experience
To become a neonatal nurse, you’ll need to start gaining relevant specialty experience after becoming a practicing RN. That means working in a NICU for at least two years (experience requirements vary by employer).
Also, you will be providing care to acutely and critically ill neonatal patients and their families.
As your career as a neonatal nurse takes shape, you’ll notice that it’s a specialty that can lead you in a variety of directions.
According to NANN, you could concentrate your efforts on becoming a:
- Technical care for acutely ill infants or supportive care for convalescent or mildly ill newborns is provided by a neonatal staff nurse.
- A neonatal nurse manager is in charge of the NICU’s personnel and administration.
- Neonatal clinical nurse specialist who provides current education. Also provide support to nursing and ancillary personnel developing clinical skills.
- Neonatal developmental care professional who offers direct care to unwell and premature infants. Also assisting colleagues in addressing their developmental needs.
- Neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) who collaborates with doctors and nurses to offer comprehensive critical care to infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
- Take a national newborn certification exam and pass it
Most neonatal nurses choose to take one or more certification examinations. This is done to prove their expertise and develop their careers after obtaining experience in the NICU.
Furthermore, several certification organizations provide a variety of tests related to neonatal nursing. Also, many of them allow you to demonstrate your skill in a specific area of neonatal nursing.
Nursinglicensure.org, for example, provides the following information:
- For neonatal nurses, certification in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) is a must.
- The National Certification Corporation (NCC) offers Low Risk Neonatal Nursing (RNC-LRN) and National Intensive Care Nursing (NICN) certificates (RNC-NIC).
- RNs and other healthcare professionals, like paramedics and physician assistants, can earn sub-specialty certificates in Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM).Also, neonatal Pediatric Transport (C-NPT).
- Nurses who give direct care to acutely/critically sick neonatal infants can earn CCRN® certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nursing.
Regardless of the sub-specializations you choose, all neonatal nurses should be qualified in the following areas:
- Basic Life Assistance (BLS)
- Life Support for Advanced Cardiovascular Patients (ACLS)
- Program for Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP)
- Get your certification as a neonatal nurse and start working!
It is not for the faint of heart to become a neonatal nurse.
However, if you have the expertise, compassion, and critical thinking skills to care for severely ill children, it may be a very gratifying career choice.
It might be demanding and emotionally draining at times. But the comfort and care you give will give you the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping new individuals into the world healthy and happy.
Conclusion on the How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
Finally, knowing how to become a neonatal nurse will help your career in pediatrics. Follow the instructions above and increase your chances of becoming a neonatal nurse good luck!
Since your opinion counts on our platform, kindly air your view in the comment box.
FAQs about How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
See below for the answers to the most asked questions about how to become a neonatal nurse;
- What options are there for neonatal nurses to develop their careers?
Neonatal nurses that pursue advanced practice nursing jobs and qualifications will have the highest career progression chances.
These include neonatal care, women’s health, midwifery, and critical care nurse practitioner specialties.
Furthermore, clinical nurse specialists, nurse educators, and nurse managers with graduate training can advance into administration positions.
- How difficult is it to train as a neonatal nurse?
Neonatal nursing necessitates a high level of education, sophisticated abilities, and the capacity to work in high-stress situations.
While not as physically demanding as some nursing positions, these nurses must be able to work with critically ill infants in high-pressure situations.
- What makes a neonatal nurse different from a pediatric nurse?
Neonatal nurses are commonly found in hospital NICUs and delivery rooms, caring for infants with major health problems.
They normally work with infants until they are discharged. This duration can be up to two months, although it varies depending on the case.
Additionally, pediatric nurses care for children from birth to adolescence in a range of settings, including hospitals and doctors’ offices.
Their education focuses on the stages of child development as well as a thorough understanding of children’s disorders.