Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP) are professionals who work mostly in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) providing healthcare to neonates who are ill or prematurely born. These nurses are among the highest paid in the field owing to the complex nature of their job and the level of expertise that they possess. If you are interested in a career in this field, continue reading to find out what some neonatal nurse requirements are.
What type of nursing degree do I need?
Becoming a NNP is challenging and requires a lot of hard work. The specific skills needed to become a neonatal nurse practitioner are taught at the graduate level, which means that you must have an undergraduate degree to enroll in any graduate nursing program. The most preferred route is to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This is a four year long program which covers topics in healthcare and the humanities, with the aim of grooming you to become an effective nurse and a well-rounded professional.
The undergraduate degree will provide you with the basis on which you can further specialize to become a NNP. Many universities across the US have nursing programs for students who would like to enter this profession. Students who find it difficult to enroll in campus-based programs are able to enroll in online neonatal nurse practitioner programs, which allow them to cover the coursework through the internet and still obtain full credit and a degree. Online students are able to manage their studies with other professional or personal commitments.
Once you finish your degree, you have the necessary requirements to be a registered nurse (RN). You will have to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN) to be authorized to practice within the US.
The next step to becoming a NNP is you will have to enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with an emphasis in neonatal care. These programs will add on to your existing nursing knowledge with the specific training you need to become a professional neonatal nurse practitioner. You will learn how to diagnose and assess the health of newborns. You will also take courses in embryology and pharmacology in a context relevant to neonates.
Following your training as a NNP, you may enter employment in a NICU or similar facility in a hospital. You will not only be responsible for providing health assessments, but also provide advice to doctors and families on the best course of action for the neonate. As a NNP, you are required to be diligent in your work and possess good communication skills. In addition to this, you are expected to have high emotional resoluteness, since families are counting on your strength to see them through their newborns' illness. You must also be efficient, because a delayed response can severely negatively impact the newborn's life. If you feel you have what it takes, you should get information about nursing programs so that you can begin your way towards this career.