Neonatal nursing is a specialty in nursing that focuses on the care of premature and sick newborn infants. Neonatal nurses care for infants that are born early, or have illnesses, diseases, or conditions that require intensive care. Neonatal nurses are found in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit.Many healthcare institutions, such as hospitals, have different requirements for hiring neonatal nurses. Many, if not all, require that a neonatal nurse must first be a registered nurse (RN), therefore having a registered nurse license.
After being hired into the neonatal intensive care unit, neonatal nurses must then go through an internship that can last a varying amount of time, averaging out at around three months, to acclimate the nurse to specialized neonatal nursing. Certain neonatal nursing certifications must also be obtained, within a certain period of time from the date of hire.
A nurse specializing in neonatal nursing can expect his or her duties to include the care for premature infants, sick infants, attending high-risk deliveries, and assisting in minor and major surgical procedures. They also are advocates for the parents of the infant(s), helping them cope and adjust to having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit. This can include emotional support, breastfeeding help, and education on the care of neonatal infants during and after the hospital stay.
Neonatal nurses work very closely with their fellow nurses, and other staff that includes: neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, pediatricians, and other maternity hospital staff. Other staff can include respiratory therapists, speech and physical therapists, and social workers.
Neonatal Nursing is in high demand, and neonatal nurses are needed across the country. Because this type of nursing is so specialized, most adult and pediatric nurses cannot work in the neonatal intensive care unit. Therefore, neonatal nurses are highly sought after, and can earn very competitive salaries.
Neonatal nurses must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a two-year associate’s degree in nursing.