How do I become a Neonatal Nurse?

If newborn babies are your passion, perhaps a specialization in neonatal healthcare is for you. Neonatal Nurses focus on providing care for infants who are born prematurely or infants born with birth defects, diseases or deformities. Many work in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) by providing specialized care to the precious babies. The satisfaction of assisting infants in becoming strong and healthy children is a very rewarding career.

The Neonatal Nurse must have a genuine love for newborns, with a sympathetic understanding for parents and family members, specific knowledge of the physiological and psychological needs of newborns, as well as, the capability to work efficiently with other medical team members and technical equipment.

Neonatal Nurses work primarily with infants that are born prematurely, however, they sometimes continue their work on until the child reaches toddler age. Nurses also care for healthily-born infants, in addition to, others with special needs by performing procedures such as intravenous infusions, administering oxygen and drawing blood. While being responsible for up to four infants at a time, they also change diapers, give medications and tend to special needs. With advanced certification, a Neonatal Nurse may assist in surgery or high-risk labor and delivery. Additional tasks of a Neonatal Nurse include assisting mothers with birth and after-birth care of their new baby and testing cognitive skills, in addition to, regular nursing care.

The salary of the Neonatal Nurse ranges from between $66,640 – $98,880 annually, depending on experience, educational degree and job location. However, if you become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, your salary could reach upwards of $105,220 per year.

The first step in becoming a Neonatal Nurse is to become a Registered Nurse with an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. And then licensure, through the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), is required. If your desired goal is to become a Neonatal Nurse, then gaining experience in this area is crucial. Most NICUs require nurses to gain valuable experience working with newborns and sick infants through a job opportunity or internship, which may include working in a pediatric clinic or a hospital’s nursery.

Although optional, certification concentrating in neonatal care is available. Completion of the coursework will ensure competence and knowledge regarding infant intensive care, low-risk neonatal nursing and pediatric transporting.

Those looking to further their education and salaries, may opt to obtain their online master’s degree to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in the specialization of neonatal care. After several years of experience with your master’s degree, you may be interested in research or working in the best NICU units within the neonatal field. If so, you may opt to then earn your online doctorate degree.

If flexibility and convenience in earning your degrees are important to you, you may enroll in a neonatal nursing online program. Be sure to choose an accredited school with experienced and highly trained faculty members in neonatal care. At the master’s and doctoral program level, students should be able to locate a program that will give you several electives or specializations to choose from. If neonatal care is your interest, be sure that your online school choice has that option available.

If you are interested in becoming a Neonatal Nurse, we have compiled a list of the Top Online Nursing Degree Programs to help you in your endeavor.