Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Career, Employment and Education Info
Explore the career requirements for neonatal nurse practitioners. Get the facts about job duties, education, salary and licensing and certification requirements to determine if this is the right career for you.
What is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?
Neonatal nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who monitor and treat premature or sick infants in hospital intensive care units. Nurse practitioners are able to provide more specialized healthcare than nurses, as they have received more education and training. They are responsible for creating patient care plans for sick infants and monitoring their progress throughout treatment. They can also order diagnostic tests and then review the results to plan accordingly and alter treatment plans. The following chart provides an overview of a neonatal nurse practitioner career.
|Degree Required||Master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Nursing; specialization in neonatal nursing|
|Key Responsibilities||Provide medical care for newborn patients; provide acute and critical care including performing minor invasive procedures; prescribe medication and treatments; order and perform diagnostic testing and analyze results|
|Licensure or Certification||Licensure as a registered nurse (RN) is required; board certification in neonatal nursing is available|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||28% for all nurse practitioners*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$107,030 for all nurse practitioners*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Are My Job Duties as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?
Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) usually care for babies in level I, level II or level III neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). If you become a level I NNP, you'll care for healthy babies without any special needs, while as a level II NNP, you'd provide primary care for premature and sick babies who are in need of increased supervision, but are not considered to be in life-threatening health situations. If you become a level III NNP, you'll have a higher level of responsibility because you'll monitor more seriously ill infants. Some hospitals have higher level NICUs for babies who have more complex health conditions. Whatever level NICU you end up working in, you'll provide primary care for neonates under the supervision of licensed physicians with duties that can include treating medical issues, educating patient families, prescribing medications and referring patients to other health care professionals.
What Education Do I Need?
You'll first need to become a registered nurse (RN), then complete additional certification and education requirements. You must obtain a bachelor's degree, followed by a master's or doctoral degree in nursing. Over the course of your graduate program, you may be given the opportunity to specialize in neonatal nursing. The curriculum will typically include supervised clinical experience and coursework physiology, anatomy, microbiology, psychology and nutrition.
To obtain board certification as an NNP, you must be currently licensed as an RN, complete a graduate degree in nursing and pass the examination administered by the National Certification Corporation (www.nccwebsite.org). Once the criteria have been met, you may use the NNP-BC designation. Recertification is required on a 3-year cycle, and requires 45 continuing education hours.
What Is My Career Outlook?
As an NNP, you can find jobs at clinics, hospitals or intensive care units. If you don't want to work in a clinical setting, you can also work as a teacher, consultant or researcher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for all nurse practitioners were expected to grow at a rate of 28% during the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). NNPs earn above average salaries, with the majority earning $81,000 - $126,000 annually as of November 2019, according to Payscale.com.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Individuals may not wish to pursue advanced degrees after receiving their registered nurse designation, allowing them to work as nurses in various fields such as neonatology, nephrology, or critical care. If you are interested in another area of medical care, a career in occupational therapy might be of interest. Occupational therapists help individuals who are disabled complete every day tasks, and they also help ill or injured patients recover. Another career path is speech-language pathology. Speech-language pathologists work with individuals who have communication and swallowing disorders. All of these careers require a master's degree.