Parents of newborns rely on neonatal nurses to provide care for their infants. Neonatal nurses assist other members of the medical staff including doctors in ensuring the good health of newborns. To this end, they perform tests, record vital information and administer medications. Prerequisites to becoming a neonatal nurse include the completion of postsecondary nursing educational courses and licensure requirements to operate as a nurse.
Educational Prerequisites for a Neonatal Nurse
Nursing programs regardless of the levels are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) (www.nlnac.org). Both the U.S. Department of Education and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) recognize the accrediting organization (source: www.ncsbn.org). Licensed nurses are required in all states to have graduated through a NLNAC-accredited course (source: www.bls.gov).
Bachelor Degree Courses for Neonatal Nurses
The primary educational step neonatal nurses need to complete is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Students seeking enrollment to a BSN program are required to satisfy non-nursing prerequisites during the first two years. Apart from general education coursework, students are required to study science and math topics including physiology, anatomy, microbiology and statistics. The nursing track is a combination of classroom based lectures and hands-on experience. Coursework includes healthcare delivery, human responses and pharmacology.
Apart from nursing concepts and techniques, coursework of BSN graduate courses includes specialized nursing training such as administration of care to infants and families. Students are given considerable hands-on experience in clinical settings under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional such as a licensed nurse. To satisfy licensure norms to practice as registered nurses (RNs), BSN graduates are required to take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN), which is conducted by the NCSBN (National Council for State Boards of Nursing). Syllabi of the NCLEX-RN tests covers a broad range of topics including pharmacological therapies, infection control and health maintenance. Different prerequisite conditions have to be satisfied by prospective test takers depending on the state in which the examination is being held. Students need to check with the appropriate state nursing boards to find out about the eligibility requirements.
Master Degree Courses
After completing the BSN, RNs may continue with their education by pursuing a master degree that will enable them to practice as neonatal nurses. Students in the master programs learn to work in delivery rooms and care for neonates. Coursework includes standard neonatal ailments and treatments; students are required to participate in clinical rotations in neonatal care facilities. The training prepares students to perform in an intensive care unit or family practice. After completion of the master degree program, nurses can look for trainers’ assignments in certificate programs where they can teach aspiring nurses to provide treatment to neonates in critically ill condition. Apart from the master degree, prospective trainers must have relevant experience in working with critically ill newborns. The National certification Corporation issues certificates to nurse practitioners graduating from a neonatal program; graduates can seek certification by taking a state certification examination.