If you have compassion for newborn babies, neonatal nursing could be the perfect career. This is a specialized profession dealing with the care of neonates. Individuals seeking jobs in this advanced practice area are usually required to have completed a master degree program in neonatal nursing and must have documented nursing experience. In this article, we will look at the requirements needed in order to follow a successful career path as a neonatal nurse.
Full-term and premature newborns that have critical medical problems or considered high-risk will be taken care of by neonatal nurses. While the newborns undergo treatment, these professionals also work with the patients’ families. Neonatal nurses are usually employed in health care facilities such as women and children’s clinics, and hospitals, among others. They may provide assistance in many ways: they deliver and transport patients, resuscitate newborns, and teach family members on the care of high-risk neonates.
Individuals who want to be employed in this advanced nurse practice position will need to complete a bachelor degree program in nursing and have a registered nurse designation, besides having two years’ experience before being admitted to a majority of graduate programs. A master degree is a mandatory requirement for those seeking employment to any advanced practice position. Many schools offer nursing master degree programs with a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner concentration. Coursework in these programs focuses on subject areas such as transitions to advanced nursing practice, pediatric pharmacology, neonatal health assessment, research methods and foundations of neonatal care. A majority of programs also include a practical component, which students gain hands on experience in nursery facilities among other settings. A thesis option is included in some programs. Licensure norms are required to be satisfied in all states. Once they complete a nursing program, graduates are required to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before they are allowed to practice. Each state has its own eligibility for licensure.
Job growth for neonatal nurses has been projected at a faster-than-average rate of twenty-two percent during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)). The demand for nurses in advanced practice specializations is expected to be extremely high. In 2010, registered nurses earned an average annual salary of $64,690 (source: BLS). In August 2011, neonatal nurse practitioners earned an average annual salary of $100,695 (source: Salary.com).