Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Get a neonatal nursing career overview with education, salary and career outlook information.

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premature baby in incubator

Neonatal nurse specialists focus on the care of newborn infants. They may care for healthy infants, provide focused care for premature or ill newborns, or work exclusively with seriously ill newborns in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This nursing career requires a high level of diligence and teamwork. You will work closely with parents, neonatologists and other nurse specialists to achieve optimal results for your tiny patients.

But first, you'll need to complete your nurse training at the best nursing school for you.

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Neonatal Nurse Specialist Career Overview

Neonatal nurses (RNs) and neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) may work in clinics, community-based settings, hospitals or neonatal intensive care units. They may also conduct research, act as consultants or provide education to staff and family members.

There are three levels in the neonatal nursing specialty:

  • Level I care for healthy infants. The demand for this level of neonatal nursing is decreasing because mothers and newborn babies are now more likely to stay in the same room together after birth.
  • Level II nurses are much more in demand because premature and sick babies need constant attention.
  • Level III nurses have the most intensive responsibilities, working in the NICU and monitoring seriously ill or premature infants around the clock. They check ventilators and incubators, make sure babies are responding well, and teach parents how to care for their infants properly.

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Neonatal Nurse Specialist Education

Entry-level requirements vary by location. At a minimum, you need to meet these requirements:

Once you have completed your nursing school training, you must also become certified by your State Board of Nursing or receive a national certification from an agency such as the National Certification Corporation.

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Neonatal Nurse Specialist Salary

According to Salary.com, the median salary for a nurse practitioner in the United States is $80,414. The middle 50 percent earned between $73,840 and $87,008. Nurse practitioners typically make about $20,000 more per year in base salary than RNs.

Another source, the Council of International Neonatal Nurses reports that a neonatal nurse practitioner or teacher may make from $56,000 to $190,000 per year, depending on the country and/or job responsibilities.

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Neonatal Nurse Specialist Career Outlook

Approximately 40,000 low birth weight infants are born annually in the United States. These infants often need many months of care, but survival rates are now 10 times better than they were 15 years ago because of great medical advances and the growing skill of physician and nurse specialists.

As with all nursing careers, the demand for neonatal nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners is expected to increase significantly over the next ten years (see information about the current nursing shortage). In general, the more training, certifications and experience a nurse has, the more demand there will be for his or her skill set.

Job demand positively affects salaries, schedules, job openings and the availability of training institutions and government grants for education. These reasons, coupled with the fact that nursing is a rewarding profession, make today a great time to become a neonatal nurse specialist.

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Sources:
National Association of Neonatal Nurses, 2008
Wikipedia, 2008

NNP Career at a Glance


Travel is an option!

Do you desire adventure? Once registered, neonatal nurses can work as a travel or agency nurse for short periods of time in different hospitals. There can be different professional requirements, so you have to research the country's requirements for the country you're interested in working in before you apply.


Low Birth Weight Infants
Survival Rates Are Getting Better!

Approximately 40,000 low birth weight infants are born annually in the United States. These infants often need many months of care, but survival rates are now 10 times better than they were 15 years ago because of great medical advances and the growing skill of physician and nurse specialists. Advances in neonatal nurse education can help prepare you for this challenging and rewarding profession.


An In-Demand Job

The demand for neonatal nurse specialists is expected to increase significantly over the next ten years (see our information on the current 2012 nursing shortage). In general, the more training, certifications and experience a neonatal nurse has, the more demand there will be for his or her skill set.

Source:
Council of International Neonatal Nurses, Inc. 2008

Spotlight School

rush university

Rush University offers a neonatal nurse practitioner program with the convenience of either online or on-campus programs.

The neonatal nurse practitioner program emphasizes advanced nursing care of high-risk infants from birth through the first two years of life. The spectrum of health from promoting wellness to the management of acute and chronic illness in a variety of settings is incorporated into this effective curriculum.

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