Neonatal nurses focus on providing medical care to newborn babies and instructing parents about caring for their newborn in the first few weeks of life. It is a tremendous responsibility for the neonatal nurse to instruct parents about caring for a newborn, because the parents may have not received information from any other medical or educational sources. Neonatal nurses also have specialized skills that allow them to care for premature newborns suffering from debilitating illnesses. Ensuring that a newborn baby is adapting to ventilators and incubators is another task of the neonatal nurse. If the thought of caring for premature newborns and educating parents appeals to you, then you may be the right candidate for a neonatal nurse career. Perhaps you have thought, “How do I become a neonatal nurse?” To get started in pursuing this fulfilling career, simply take courses in high school and college that expose you to basic human anatomy and medical terms.
What’s it like to be a neonatal nurse?
A neonatal nurse typically works long hours. He or she may need to administer emergency treatment to high-risk premature babies. The neonatal nurse will also work to provide care to other newborn babies for the first 28 days of their lives. To provide care for newborns, a neonatal nurse provides nutrition and any required medications to the babies. He or she constantly checks up on ventilators and incubators to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly. It is the responsibility of a neonatal nurse to alert a staff person if a piece of equipment loses power or stops working. Because some high-risk newborns depend on ventilators and other equipment as life-saving measures, the job of a neonatal nurse is critical in this respect. Overall, neonatal nurses gain deep satisfaction from knowing that their work saves the lives of premature newborns and helps other newborns adapt to their new environment.
The typical neonatal nurse has specialized training and can be distinguished from a “registered nurse.” The neonatal nurse pursues a four-year degree and Master’s of Neonatal Nursing degree program. Hospital administrations want to see that a neonatal nurse has the skills that are required to care for newborn babies and can respond appropriately in emergency situations. After successfully completing a degree program, a person will have to obtain a state license in order to legally practice as a neonatal nurse. Every year, the National Council Licensure Examination is administered for neonatal nursing candidates.
Salary & How to Get a Job
A neonatal nurse earns a salary of about $65,000 a year, and this is comparable to the salary of a general registered nurse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent of neonatal nurses earn about $41,000 a year. The top 10 percent of neonatal nurses earn an average of about $96,000 a year. The best way to enter a career as a neonatal nurse is to apply for a general nursing position in a hospital and make one’s way into the neonatal unit. The competition for nursing jobs in the neonatal unit is quite fierce, so you can stand out by excelling in other nursing positions within a hospital. You can also apply directly for open positions in the neonatal unit if you have completed the educational requirements for this career.