What Is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and What Do They Do?

neonatal nurse practitioner schooling

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Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and they should be lauded for everything they do TBH. When you decide to become a nurse, you will learn that there are lots of different career paths you could follow. All these paths are dictated by the qualifications, degrees, and certifications you have or can attain. One of the most interesting paths a nurse can take is becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner. Below, we will look at what a neonatal practitioner is, what they do, as well as some fun facts about working as one.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

A neonatal nurse practitioner is a nurse who is highly trained and works with infants and their families. Although they can work in other health departments, neonatal nurse practitioners mainly work in a neonatal unit where they focus on diagnosing and developing care plans for babies with serious illnesses. They may encounter NSFW challenges, but the nutrition and care of the baby is of the utmost importance.

In most healthcare institutions, these nurses perform the same tasks as physician assistants and doctors. This is the main reason why neonatal nurses are highly-trained and why it takes so long to become one.

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

At their core, neonatal nurse practitioners are nurses. So, they start by getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Here, they study the fundamentals of nursing and biology and undergo supervised nursing training. After that, they have to take the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX). After passing the examination, they become registered nurses (RN).

With their degree and registered nurse license, they can apply for a master’s degree. There are lots of different neonatal nurse practitioner programs that can prepare registered nurses for a role in neonatal healthcare. As they prepare to become neonatal nurse practitioners, they might also have to complete specialized clinical training in a neonatal department or unit. Some healthcare institutions and states also require that they have board certification.

Such certifications include the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner certification, which you can sit for with your RN license, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree.

Qualities of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

To be effective neonatal nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners must have to have an in-depth understanding of infant illnesses and approved treatment methods and procedures for all these ailments and illnesses.

They must also have an interest in newborns as well as an understanding of their psychological and physiological needs. They have to have well-tuned motherly instincts so that they can care best for babies who are critically ill and who might not be in contact with their parents.

They also need to be empathetic towards parents and family members. Sometimes, they may be called upon to provide emotional support during trying times.

Neonatal nurse practitioners must also be good communicators. They are the bridge between doctors and parents as well as parents and their infants. They must be able to break down complex terminologies and situations in a way that is both clear and empathetic. In addition, they also need to convey parents’ concerns to the doctor in charge as well as instruct new parents on how to take care of their precious babies. To be effective communicators, they have to be patient and be able to cut through stress and anxiety to convey the information they need to.

Neonatal nurse practitioners are always solving problems, so they must be creative problem solvers and critical thinkers. They must be able to assess situations quickly and provide the correct solutions. They must also be able to work through emergencies no matter how much stress and pressure they may be under.

Finally, they should be organized and able to prioritize their duties. This is because they will usually have multiple babies under their care, and they need to provide the best care for each of them.

Where Exactly Does a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Work?

Neonatal nurse practitioners have a lot of options as they can work in almost any healthcare setting. The most obvious option is in neonatal intensive care units, although they do work in clinics, home health services, community-based healthcare institutions, research institutions, public and private hospitals, and medical evacuation units as well.

Since they are qualified and registered nurses already, they can also fall back on nursing positions that do not have anything to do with neonatal care.

What Do They Do?

A neonatal nurse practitioner’s job description includes a lot of roles. They assess vital signs, draw blood for medical tests, distribute and administer medication, prescribe medication in institutions that let them maintain IV lines, and monitor vital specialized equipment like incubators and ventilators.

They also work with doctors and physicians to come up with the best treatment options while also providing basic feeding and protective care. They cooperate and communicate with other professionals to ensure NICUs are running as they should. technology like deep learning and artificial intelligence is also more and more playing a role in this care and treatment.

Salary and Employment

The demand for neonatal nursing practitioners is growing, and this is a nursing role that will always be in demand. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the nursing profession will grow by 26% by 2028. There is also a shortage of nurses in North America, and because of this, their salaries are very competitive. According to the latest statistics, Neonatal Nursing Practitioners earn an average of $123,000 per year.

That said, neonatal nurses with advanced education and qualifications can earn significantly more.

Related Alternate Careers

Nurses who do not want to get on the neonatal nurse practitioner track have other avenues they could follow. They can choose to become nursing practitioners with no specializations where they will handle similar roles to those of neonatal nursing practitioners with some exceptions.

They can also become physician assistants, although they will need a master’s degree for this. If they follow this track, they can diagnose patients, examine them, and prescribe medication. Some universities also provide tracks for nurses to become medical and clinical officers. In this new role, they will operate at a much more advanced level and have responsibilities that have a higher impact on healthcare outcomes.

Becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner is a challenging career path to follow. That said, it is a very fulfilling nursing option.

FAQ

What is a neonatal nurse practitioner?

A neonatal nurse practitioner is a nurse who is highly trained and works with infants and their families. Although they can work in other health departments, neonatal nurse practitioners mainly work in a neonatal unit where they focus on diagnosing and developing care plans for babies with serious illnesses.

Where can a neonatal nurse practitioner work?

Neonatal nurse practitioners have a lot of options as they can work in almost any healthcare setting. The most obvious option is in neonatal intensive care units, although they do work in clinics, home health services, community-based healthcare institutions, research institutions, public and private hospitals, and medical evacuation units as well.

Additional Resources:

Neonatal and Developmental Medicine: Stanford University

Nursing Care In Neonatal Setting

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