Neonatal nursing is a special type of nursing career that is fit for a unique personality. Those working within the field of neonatal nursing are also known as labor and delivery nurses, as they work with women and babies during birth and in the nursery following delivery.
Educational Requirements for Neonatal Nursing
If you are looking to become a neonatal nurse, you must first start out as a registered nurse (RN). To become a RN, you must earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Following graduation from either program, you must take and pass the NCLEX exam for registered nursing. Nurses who practice in this specialty often advanced their education and earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
Neonatal Nurse Certification
When you are looking to gain a position as a neonatal nurse, most employers will tell you what type of certification and degree level is necessary. There are other certifications that are required, such as pediatric advanced life support (PALS). The National Certification Corporation (NCC) provides the certification for neonatal nurses. The areas of certification require that you hold an active RN license, work for a minimum of 2,000 hours in neonatal nursing, and be employed in this areas during the last two years. These certifications include:
- Registered Nurse Certified – Low Risk Neonatal Nursing (RNC-LRN)
- Registered Nurse Certified – Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC)
- Registered Nurse Certified – Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN)
- Registered Nurse Certified – Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB)>
Neonatal Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries
Because most employers want neonatal nurses who have experience, it is recommended that you work as an RN for at least two years before you apply for a neonatal nursing position. These nurses work in hospital delivery units, neonatal care centers, and neonatal intensive care units.
Salaries for neonatal nurses vary depending on the state, area of practice, years of nursing experience, and degree level. According to most web sources, a neonatal nurse earns anywhere from $51,000 and $82,000 annually.
Job Duties of the Neonatal Nurse
There are typically three levels of neonatal nursing: Level I (infants with no health problems); Level II (sick newborns that need monitoring); and Level III (critically ill infants). Job duties for neonatal nurse include monitoring life support machines, bottle feeding, administering medications, educating parents, and changing diapers.