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Major Overview: Neonatal Nursing Program

Majors Overview March 27, 2015

Get information about master’s degree programs in neonatal nursing and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education choices.

Neonatal Nursing Majors

Few schools, if any, offer neonatal nursing programs at the bachelor’s degree level. Hence, those interested in neonatal nursing education must earn a master’s degree in the field. Registered nurses who already hold bachelor’s degrees can seek admittance to master’s degree programs in neonatal nursing to learn about how to care for infants and newborns. These nurses can expect to become adept at working with critically ill, recurrently ill, or high-risk babies.

Certain business topics pertinent to the health care industry, including finance and economics, are also covered in the coursework. Those who successfully graduate from these programs can seek occupations as nurse practitioners.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria in a neonatal nursing program require incoming students to be licensed registered nurses with one to two years of work experience in a third-level neonatal intensive care unit. Schools may prefer nurses that have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and hold a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nursing.

Prerequisite courses in statistics and health assessment must also be completed, in addition to submission of Graduate Record Examination or Miller Analogies Test scores along with recommendation letters, a resume, and a writing sample.

Coursework

About 600 hours of hands-on education must typically be completed by neonatal nursing students; coursework comprises four clinical practicums. Students also learn about strategies and topic areas such as:

•Fetal and infant growth and development
•Detection and treatment of infant diseases
•Assessing a newborn’s health
•Heredity factors and DNA
•Drug therapies and medications for infants

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 19% has been predicted for registered nurses in general over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The exceptionally high demand for clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners drives this growth. In 2012, nurse practitioners brought in an average annual wage of $96,460 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Those who complete a master’s degree program in neonatal nursing may opt for continuing education by earning a Ph.D. in Nursing that would be useful for those seeking jobs in academia or research. Schools also offer more clinically oriented Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) programs.

The National Certification Corporation offers professional certifications to nurse practitioners and neonatal nurses. Depending on the desired credential, licensed registered nurses who meet experience or education requirements are allowed to take the exam. Certification, which is valid for three years, can be maintained through retesting or participation in continuing education.

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In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
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*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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