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Neonatal Nurse Job Description, Career as a Neonatal Nurse, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in nursing and certification

Salary Median: $100,904 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Neonatal nurses care for newborns for the first 28 days of the babies’ lives, the children’s most vulnerable stage. Nurses specialized in this field are required to focus not just on healthy infants, but also on ill or premature babies. They monitor the condition of babies, check for signs of distress, and administer medication when necessary. Neonatal nurses are also responsible for providing all kinds of basic care, like changing diapers and feeding babies. They act as a support system for the parents and family of the newborn.

There are three different levels at which neonatal nurses work. Level 1 comprises those who take care of healthy infants, while those in Level 2 care for ill or premature newborns. Neonatal nurses responsible for treating severely ill babies work at Level 3. They work in the intensive care unit and look after infants in incubators or on ventilators.

Another important part of working as a neonatal nurse is communication, interacting with parents. Neonatal nurses need to understand the concerns of the parents and keep them well informed of their child’s condition. They may also be required to teach new parents the basics of child care.

Education and Training Requirements

The first step toward becoming a neonatal nurse is getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This qualifies one as a registered nurse, or RN. Candidates must then get certification in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing or Neonatal Resuscitation. In addition to this, it is essential to have at least three years of clinical experience. Candidates wishing to become neonatal nurse practitioners need to have a master’s degree in nursing. Students should opt for courses from institutes accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Following completion of nursing school training, candidates need to be certified by the state nursing board. It might also be beneficial to obtain a national certification from the National Certification Corporation.

Getting the Job

When it comes to looking for a neonatal nursing job, the best place is the Internet. A lot of large organizations, such as hospitals, advertise openings through online career sites. Classified sections of newspapers, too, offer information regarding job opportunities. Nursing schools often provide placement services to their graduates. Additionally, interested neonatal nurses can approach hospitals and clinics directly for suitable positions. Professional associations for neonatal nurses can be another source of information.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Like all professionals in nursing or other medical professions, neonatal nurses begin by working under the supervision of experienced medical personnel. With this experience, neonatal nurses can advance to more responsible positions, like that of head nurse or assistant unit manager. Those interested in the management aspect can take on the role of chief nurse, director, or vice president. However, these are extremely senior-level positions, and it may take several years of hard work and experience to get such roles. Neonatal nurses can also shift to academics and work in the teaching or research departments of colleges and universities. Other career options include involvement in consulting, quality assurance, marketing, and health planning and development.

The job market for neonatal nurses is predicted to experience a huge growth in the next few years. This growth can be attributed to various reasons. Modern fertility treatments have made it possible for many people previously unable to have babies to do so now. Also, since a large number of health care facilities have been established in recent years, there is a shortage of qualified neonatal nurses. On the whole, employment opportunities are likely to increase by more than 20 percent. Those working in Cincinnati, New York City, and Philadelphia are expected to have the best prospects.

Working Conditions

Neonatal nurses work in clean, sterilized, and well-lit environments. Work hours are regular for those employed in offices of physicians. However, those working in the intensive care units of health care facilities need to be available around the clock in cases of emergency. They may even be required to work during weekends and on holidays. Due to the nature of the job, neonatal nurses need to be extra careful about observing safety procedures.

The work of neonatal nurses can be both rewarding and stressful at the same time. Taking care of newborn children is fulfilling, but nurses often have to witness traumatic situations. The emotional strain can take a toll on the personal lives of neonatal nurses and their own families.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association of Neonatal Nurses
4700 W. Lake Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025

The Academy of Neonatal Nursing
2220 Northpoint Prkwy
Santa Rosa CA 95407-7398

Neonatal Network: The Journal of Neonatal Nursing

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
2000 L St. NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20036

Council of International Neonatal Nurses, Inc.
708 Capri Pl.
Edmond, OK 73034

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The salary for neonatal nurses in the United States depends on the individual’s experience and education levels. Average annual salaries for entry-level positions are in the range of $49,296 to $68,784, while those neonatal nurses with a few years of nursing experience earn between $67,520 and $84,570 annually. Neonatal nurses with over 10 years of work experience report a median annual salary of $92,607. Some are even known to earn as much as $111,831 per year.

Neonatal nurses enjoy a host of benefits. Apart from sick leaves, vacations, and health insurance, they are often entitled to perks like housing assistance and life insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine