Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) and pediatric advanced practice nurses support not only the child, but the entire family in creating a healthy environment. Much of the focus is on preventive care and educating families on how to keep everyone in good health by preventing injuries and illness. Neonatal nurses specialize in the care of newborn babies, often premature or sick newborns. Some work exclusively with seriously ill newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICU).
Diligence and the ability to work on a team are important for this position, as well as excellent interpersonal skills for working closely with parents, doctors, and other nurses. Neonatal nurses work in many settings: hospitals, intensive care units, or pediatrics offices. Within neonatal care, specialties include caring for healthy infants, caring for premature and sick babies, and working in the NICU with seriously ill infants, all of which require increasing levels of education.
Degree Options and Career Information
Advanced practice neonatal nursing programs are usually two years long and lead to a master of science degree. APNNs and NNPs are not only trained to give care, provide treatment, order X-rays of broken bones and prescribe medications to children; they are also trained to be culturally sensitive. Some programs require the equivalent of one year of full-time practice experience as a registered nurse (RN) caring for critically ill newborns, infants, or children in acute care. All applicants to neonatal nurse practitioner programs should already have their RN, or be enrolled in a dual degree program for RNs to NPs, and have an extensive childcare background.
- NNP Requirements: Requirements for practicing as an NP include being a licensed registered nurse (RN), earning a master’s degree or higher, and passing the necessary certification exam(s). To be an NNP your coursework and exams will be specialized to this field. For NPs interested in specializing in neonatal care, there is additional coursework they can take as well as passing the required exams.
- Work Environment: NNPs can work in a variety of settings: hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, emergency rooms, intensive care units, physicians’ offices, and more, depending on the level of care they provide.