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What Is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and How to Become One

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

What Is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?

A neonatal nurse practitioner specializes in caring for infants, including premature babies and full-term babies who need to be in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. A neonatal nurse practitioner, or NNP, is usually the leading medical professional providing care for a newborn. An NNP is an expert in infant conditions such as respiratory distress, low birth weight, premature birth, or other abnormalities or congenital diseases. In this career, you may work with a physician, and your responsibilities include assessing and monitoring patients and determining and carrying out treatment.

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

A neonatal nurse practitioner is an advanced professional nursing position. Generally, you start your career as a neonatal nurse practitioner, or NNP, by becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN). After a few years of work experience in a hospital or clinic, you then need to achieve a master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in neonatal care. You may also earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a neonatal specialization. Once you meet these educational qualifications, the last step is to obtain a special NNP license to work as a certified neonatal nurse practitioner in your state.

Where Can Neonatal Nurse Practitioners Work?

Neonatal nurse practitioners can work in a variety of settings. As an NNP, you may work in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a pediatric intensive care unit, or a hospital emergency room. Your duties are similar in all hospital settings. You may also work directly in the delivery room to assess the condition of a newborn and provide emergency care if needed. Neonatal nurse practitioners sometimes provide home health care or work with community clinics or organizations to help care for healthy newborns. At some point in your career, you may participate in research that studies neonatal conditions.

Are Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Jobs In Demand?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners earn more than non-specialist RNs. In both the U.S. and Canada, a shortage of specialist nurses means that infant care jobs and other specialty jobs are often open for nurses with the proper education and qualifications. The BLS projects that nursing careers, in general, will grow more than the national average over the next few years, and the demand for people in neonatal specialties will increase even faster.