A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) or specialist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the caring of newborn infants. Though a neonatal nurse is qualified to provide care to all babies, she typically serves as a primary caregiver for premature babies and for infants born with disorders. Newborns with respiratory, heart, and other complex conditions are provided care by neonatal nurses.
Neonatal nurses have to be very diligent because they have to care for a newborn with problems. Such newborns require extra special care from extra special professional hands. Neonatal nurses work alongside with doctors, patients and other nurses while providing care to sick newborn babies. These professionals work in a variety of settings like hospitals and pediatric clinics. They are mostly busy in delivery rooms, emergency rooms and in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Some neonatal nurse practitioners also take up faculty jobs and teach their art to students.
Neonatal Nurse Education
Every neonatal nurse practitioner is required to successfully complete the 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) courses. The practitioner also must be a RN (Registered Nurse). She must have certification in Neonatal Resuscitation or in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing.
A practitioner is also required to complete clinical work for a specified number of years in a hospital setting. After successful completion of nursing school, the practitioner must obtain a certificate from the State Board of Nursing or obtain national certification from an organization like the National Certification Corporation.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Career
Neonatal nurses work in hospitals, clinics, community centers, educational institutions, research institutes, and intensive care units. They can choose to practice and become consultants. A neonatal nurse can have different levels of expertise, which are:
- A Level 1 neonatal nurse practitioner can only care for healthy infants. Such nurses are not in demand because healthy infants stay in their mother’s room after birth and all mothers of healthy infants prefer to administer care with their own hands.
- A Level 2 neonatal practitioner is trained to administer care to sick infants and premature babies.
- A Level 3 nurse can deliver care to infants suffering from complex and serious medical conditions. Such nurses are trained to work on special Neonatal ICU equipment.
Level 2 and Level 3 nurse practitioners are in demand.
All practitioners must have excellent communication skills. They have to communicate with doctors in a business-like manner and with parents in a gentle, tender manner, and therefore their communication abilities must be versatile as well. The lives of little babies depend on their actions and therefore all practitioners must be very diligent and proactive. They also must have a very mature and emotionally-stable attitude. This is because some losing parents may think that it is the practitioner who is to blame for their infant’s death. Practitioners must take such emotional shocks in their stride in a professional manner.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary and Job Outlook
As per Indeed.com, the average Neonatal practitioner salary is $90,000. Fresh graduates who specialize in level 3 caregiving can expect to start their career at $55,000/year. Highly experienced practitioners can earn $190,000/year. Salary levels differ from state to state.
Neonatal nurse practitioners will remain in demand. There are 40,000 low-weight infants born in America every year and each infant needs many months of care. Plus, such care must be administered by professional hands. Even though medical advances have increased the survival chances of low-weight-at-birth babies, such babies do need care by neonatal nurse practitioners. If such practitioners hone their skills and fortify themselves with certifications, they will always remain in demand.
Miscellaneous facts about the career
- Neonatal nurse practitioners registered with an agency may be required to travel to different hospitals in other states or counties.
- All practitioners must keep themselves up-to-speed with the latest trends and advances in the profession. Neonatal equipment and techniques keep getting updated regularly and all practitioners must update their knowledge and skills.
- It has been forecast that 2012 will witness a shortage of practitioners.
- All neonatal practitioners must achieve a universal PCP (Primary Care Nurse Practitioner) status to get the best job offers.
- Practitioners must ensure that they are recognized on provider panels for all managed care organizations.
- Nurse practitioners should strive to administer care in all American states and even internationally.
- Practitioners must be registered with the State Board of Nursing. Their license must be current and active.
- These practitioners also get an opportunity to become legislators in local or state government.
- Neonatal nurse practitioners can also get scholarships or grants to fund their nursing school fees. Attending nursing school can be expensive and qualified and hard-working students can get scholarships and grants quite easily.
The neonatal nurse practitioner career is a very noble and skilled career that treats sick and premature babies back to health and go on to become productive and healthy American citizens. It is a rewarding and fulfilling career – one that is highly in demand and will remain in demand over the next decade.