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Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Degree Programs

If you're a registered nurse (RN) with a bachelor's degree in nursing, you might consider pursuing a neonatal nurse practitioner degree, training you to provide specialized care for sick infants. If your current situation doesn't allow you to attend college on campus, you can earn your graduate degree partially online. Keep reading for program information and the career outlook related to this job.

What Are the Requirements for an Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Degree Program?

To work as a neonatal nurse practitioner, you need a graduate education. You can pursue a partially online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a neonatal nurse practitioner specialization. You might also pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a neonatal nurse practitioner specialization.

These graduate programs are aimed at licensed registered nurses (RNs) holding a bachelor's degree in nursing. You may be required to have at least two years of RN experience working with critically injured newborns. Depending on the program, you may also be required to provide letters of reference from a director of a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) unit, certification in neonatal resuscitation, letters of recommendation, a letter of intent and completion of any prerequisite courses.

Degree Levels Available Master's, doctorate
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree, RN status, letters of reference (varies per program)
Online Availability Blended programs (online and on-campus for clinical experience and rotations )
Common Courses Premature births, disorders and their care, advanced nursing theories, neonatal pharmacology, family consultation
Licensing National Certification Corporation Neonatal Nurse Practitioner certification required to be licensed as an NNP
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 45% growth (for Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners)*
Median Salary (2020)$117,670 (for Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Online Programs Like?

Online neonatal nurse practitioner degree programs offer you the opportunity to gain certification as a NNP while continuing to work and gain experience. Due to the hands-on nature of the nursing field, your program won't be entirely online; you'll complete your coursework online, but you'll need to complete clinical experiences in person.

To complete your online courses, you'll need a computer with Internet access and an e-mail address. Your courses are delivered via e-mail, online lectures or an Internet-based course delivery method, such as Blackboard. Your clinical experiences can be completed at an approved area medical facility, which may include a level II or III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or a follow-up clinic.

What Will I Study?

In addition to your online coursework, you'll complete a designated number of hours working in a NNP site under the supervision of a certified neonatal nurse practitioner or neonatologist. You'll gain experience dealing with:

  • Infants weighing less than 1,000 grams
  • Need for mechanical ventilation
  • Resuscitation and after care in the delivery room
  • Surgery-requiring illnesses
  • Consultations with parents and family members
  • Premature births
  • Participating in daily clinical rounds

In addition to your courses, you may also be required to complete a thesis or capstone project prior to the completion of the program. Topics of study may include:

  • Assessing and managing health problems in a neonatal intensive care unit
  • Fetal-neonatal development physiology
  • Neonatal pharmacology
  • Functional changes caused by illness in neonates
  • Neonatal cardiovascular, neurologic and respiratory disorders
  • Theories of advanced nursing
  • Health assessment for the neonate

What Can I Do With My Degree?

When you graduate from a neonatal nurse practitioner graduate program, you'll be able to sit for the National Certification Corporation Neonatal Nurse Practitioner certification examination - a requirement to become a licensed NNP. As a neonatal nurse practitioner, you'll be trained to deal with low- and high-risk newborns, as well as chronically ill infants, while consulting and educating family members.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average mean salary for nurse practitioners was $114,510 in 2020, (source: www.bls.gov). Between 2019 and 2029, the employment of nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 52%.