Parents of neonates that are prematurely born or ill count on newborns’ care from neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) working in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs); such NNPs can be employed with developmental pediatric clinics or specialty practices. In this article, we will look at the potential career path of NNPs who usually have a registered nurse (RN) license.
Job Profile of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal nurse practitioners provide primary care to neonates including premature babies who need specific care due to a diverse range of disorders and abnormalities including congenital heart ailments, respiratory ailments and low weight at birth, among others. NNPs can be relied on for the assessment, supervision and management of their patients’ progress. NNPs are typically employed in intensive care units, or emergency and delivery rooms, in hospitals and pediatric clinics. They are required to utilize ventilators and incubators and monitor the use of the equipment. Families rely on neonatal nurse practitioners to educate them on medical matter relating to their newborn; neonatal nurse practitioners perform this function in consultation and collaboration with neonatologists. Some neonatal nurse practitioners pursue a career path in the field of education and offer classes to aspiring nurse practitioners in areas such as infant care, pregnancy and birth control.
Wage and Job Potential
While specific information for neonatal nurse practitioners is not available, job growth of twenty-two percent is projected for registered nurses in general (source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)). Neonatal nurse practitioners are among the highest paid professionals in the nursing field. In August 2011, neonatal nurse practitioners earned an annual average salary ranging between $39,078 and $113,714 (source: Payscale.com).
Job responsibilities of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal nurse practitioners are required to satisfy licensure norms from the appropriate state board of nursing in order to be able to practice their profession in a particular state. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is mandatory for registered nurses who aspire to become nurse practitioners. Coursework includes pharmacology, human anatomy and nursing skills. Students are required to gain experience (via a clinical practicum) working with patients in a clinic or other healthcare facility. Once they have completed training, the students must satisfy licensure norms by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). In certain states, there may be additional conditions to satisfy in order to get a license. A prospective applicant should contact the appropriate board of the state in which they are located to find out particulars.
Master of Science Degree Program in Nursing (MSN)
Prospective neonatal nurse practitioners can continue their education with a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN), with a specialized focus on neonatal nursing. To satisfy the eligibility criteria for enrollment, prospective candidates may be required to have one year of previous nursing experience. Coursework covers topics such as neonatal pharmacotherapeutics, advanced neonatal assessment, and developmental physiology; students are required to gain experience (hands on exercises in clinical settings) working with newborns in a clinic or other healthcare facility under the supervision of medical professionals. Registered nurses holding a degree in advanced nursing can aspire to earn post-master neonatal nurse practitioners certification. Over and above the required academic qualifications, additional credentials from a professional organization with certification in neonatal resuscitation may be required of aspiring neonatal nurse practitioners by employers.
Diligence and speed are sought after characteristics in neonatal nurse practitioners because their response can depend on the life of a neonate. Neonatal nurse practitioners are required to have exceptional communication skills since they have to inform families about postpartum, intensive and neonatal care. Emotional resoluteness is another valuable characteristic in a job in which neonatal nurse practitioners may have to address negative effects on the occurrence of death of patients under their care.