What Are the Education Requirements for a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?

If you want to care for premature or ill newborn infants and you are a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree, excellent interpersonal communication skills and compassion, you may have what it takes to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. Learn more about the educational requirements for such professionals here. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

About the Role of Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who specialize in working with critically-ill infants. In this role, you can expect to perform a variety of tasks, including recording the initial histories and performing physical assessments at birth and assisting specialists who coordinate patient evaluations, monitoring and care. You might educate families and caretakers to help them understand and build the skills necessary to care for their infants at home.

You might manage a caseload of infants while working under the guidance and direction of a neonatologist who is directly responsible for decision-making. In addition to attending patient rounds and writing orders, you'll also coordinate consents for and sometimes assist with special procedures. You may accompany newborns on ground and air transportation from smaller hospitals to larger ones that have specialized neonatal intensive care units.

Important Information About Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs

Prerequisites Two years of recent work experience in the field, registered nursing license
Continuing Education 10 to 50 hours required, dependent on state licensure requirements
Online Availability Fully available, with clinicals completed in student's community
Degree Levels Master's, doctorate and graduate certificate programs available
Median Salary (2019) $98,312 (for neonatal nurse practitioners)*
Job Growth (2016-2026) 36% (for all nurse practitioners)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

To work as a neonatal nurse practitioner, you must be a registered nurse and complete a master's-degree program. Neonatal nurse practitioner master's-degree programs are available that can prepare you for certification examinations. In these programs, you may participate in classroom-based and clinical learning experiences that cover care and assessment of high-risk infants. Your coursework could focus on newborn development, infant pathophysiology, neonatal care theory and health policies.

You might also complete a general nurse practitioner master's-degree program and then pursue a post-master's certificate in neonatal nursing. A certificate program's curriculum may include courses in nursing theory and research, pathology, health assessment, pharmacology and the legal and ethical components of nursing.

Both options require clinical practice throughout the duration of the program. Some schools may require clinical experience in neonatal care prior to admitting students to a master's-degree program. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has adopted the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as the path to advanced practice nursing, but still accredits master's degree programs for nurse practitioners.

Certification

Master's degree or post-master's certificate programs prepare students to sit for the neonatal nurse practitioner national licensure examination that is offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC). The NCC certification examination for neonatal nurse practitioners tests competencies in a variety of categories, including neonatal assessment, diagnostic procedures and data interpretation.

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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