How Can I Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Explore the career requirements for labor and delivery nurses. Get the facts about education, certification and licensure requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Labor and delivery nurses care for pregnant women during their delivery. Their primary focus is the health and well-being of the mother and the infant, and during delivery they monitor vital signs, provide appropriate drugs, take steps to induce labor and monitor the mother's contractions. If necessary they assist with caesarian sections. They also provide medical care to the mother and newborn after delivery. Most labor and delivery nurses work in hospitals.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Nursing
Key Responsibilities Monitor mother and child vital signs and progression of labor; assist doctor with delivery; administer medication; record labor and delivery information in patient medical records
Licensure and/or Certification Registered nurse (RN) licensure is required; Basic Life Support certification, Neonatal Resuscitation certification and Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification may be preferred by employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% for all registered nurses*
Median Salary (2015) $67,490 for all registered nurses*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

As an aspiring nurse, you have two options to get an initial nursing degree. You can get your Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Many programs require that you take the Nurse Entrance Test or the General Achievement Profile (GAP) assessment test prior to enrollment. Clinical experience is an important aspect of any nursing degree program, though there are some online degree completion options available for those who qualify.

Associate degree programs last about two years, during which you can study nursing theory and practices and physical sciences. You also participate in clinical skill work. A bachelor's degree in nursing program usually lasts four years, and you can study human anatomy and physiology, individual and family health concepts, statistics, biochemistry, microbiology, illnesses and health. Some bachelor's degree programs require that you already possess your license as a registered nurse (RN) before applying.

What Are the Programs Like?

In some cases, your clinical rotations may include time in labor and delivery departments. You also spend time in geriatrics, pediatrics, surgery, mental health and critical care units. Additionally, you can take courses that help you move from the academic world to the working portion of your career. While they also offer extensive hands-on experience, associate's degree programs in nursing don't give you as much exposure to the various hospital departments.

What Exams Do I Have to Take?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) offers the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN is designed to make sure you are competent in the skills necessary to work as an entry-level nurse. To apply to take the exam, you have to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT ) from a NCSBN member board of nursing. Your RN license will only be good in the state in which you practice.

What Certifications Do I Need?

Most hospitals request that you possess current RN licensing and have current Basic Life Support certification, Neonatal Resuscitation certification, Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification and a National Certification Corporation certification. Many hospitals require that labor and delivery (L&D) nurses have at least one year experience working in the labor and delivery department, while others state that experience is not required but desired.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

EMTs, paramedics and surgical technologists share some aspects of their work with labor and delivery nurses. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency medical situations, so they may be involved in delivering a baby in a situation where an expectant mother can't reach the hospital. They do not need a degree but must complete postsecondary training. Surgical technologists need a certificate or associate's degree. They prepare operating rooms for use for surgeries, prep patients for surgery and may assist the surgeon during the procedure by passing them medical equipment. This is similar to some of the duties a labor and delivery nurse may perform when assisting with a caesarian section.

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:

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