What does a neonatal nurse do?
Neonatal nurses focus on providing medical care to newborn infants. There are three levels that neonatal nurses perform care, level 1, level 2, and level 3. Level 1 is providing care to healthy infants. Level 2 is proving care to premature and sick infants. Level 3 is proving specialized care to infants that are severely premature or very ill that are unlikely to survive without technical procedures. Neonatal nurses perform and interpret tests, examine medical histories, providing a variety of care procedures, and administer medications. They also provide education to parents and caregivers on how to properly care for infants. Many neonatal nurses conduct research to gain a better understanding of caring for very young patients and assist in developing better treatment methods.
What kind of training does a neonatal nurse need?
Neonatal nurses typically need at least a bachelor degree in nursing and a current registered nurse license. Many employers prefer applicants with at least 3 years of clinical experience in a hospital setting. Many prospective neonatal nurses concentrate on infant care while completing their education. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Neonatal nurses must also become certified as a Neonatal Resuscitation Provider and/or obtain the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing certification. They must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills current, and stay abreast on the advancements in the field.
What are the prospects for a career as a neonatal nurse?
Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and medical advances to provide specialized care to infants will drive job growth of neonatal nurses.
Job prospects should be excellent especially for neonatal nurses with professional certification and extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace neonatal nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do neonatal nurses make?
As of December 2009, the average annual salary for neonatal nurses is $54,000; average annual neonatal nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).
A career as a neonatal nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care to newborn babies. Neonatal nurses must have a solid understanding of the care of newborn patients with a variety of conditions. Patience, compassion, emotional stability, and critical thinking are essential characteristics. Neonatal nurses must have excellent communication and ability to work as part of a team. They must be quick on their feet and make effective decisions in emergency situations.