What Are the Education Requirements for a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?
Do you want to work with premature or ill newborn infants and their families? Are you a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree, excellent interpersonal communication skills and compassion? You may have what it takes to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Overview of the Role of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who specialize in working with critically ill infants. As a neonatal nurse practitioner, you can expect to perform a variety of tasks, including recording the initial history and physical assessment at birth and assisting specialists who coordinate patient evaluation, monitoring and care. You might educate families and caretakers to help them understand and build required skills needed to care for their infant at home.
You can manage a caseload of infants while working under the guidance and direction of a neonatologist, who is directly responsible for decision making. In addition to attending patient rounds and writing orders, you'll also coordinate consents for and sometimes assist with special procedures. You may accompany newborns on ground and air transportation from smaller hospitals to larger ones that have specialized neonatal intensive care units.
To work as a neonatal nurse practitioner, you must be a registered nurse and complete a master's degree program. Neonatal nurse practitioner master's degree programs are available that can prepare you for certification exams. In these programs you participate in classroom-based and clinical learning experiences that cover care and assessment of high-risk infants. Your coursework includes newborn development, infant pathophysiology, neonatal care theory and health policies.
You can also complete a general nurse practitioner master's degree program and then pursue a post-master's certificate in neonatal nursing. A certificate program's curriculum includes courses in nursing theory and research, pathology, health assessment, pharmacology and the legal and ethical components of nursing.
Both options require clinical practicums throughout the duration of the program. Some schools may require clinical experience in neonatal care prior to being admitted to a master's degree program. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, by 2015, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) will be required before pursuing work as a nurse practitioner (www.aacn.nche.edu).
Master's degree or post-master's certificate programs prepare you to sit for the neonatal nurse practitioner national licensure exam offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC). The NCC certification exam for neonatal nurse practitioners tests your competency in a variety of categories, including neonatal assessment, diagnostic procedures and data interpretation (www.nccwebsite.org).
Employment Outlook and Salary Data
According to Salary.com neonatal nurse practitioners earned annual salaries ranging from $85,166 to $118,057 with a median annual salary of $100,695 reported as of August 2011. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all registered nurses from 2008-2018 was expected to grow by 22% (www.bls.gov).
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: