What Does a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Do?

A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) works with premature newborn babies who have developed medical conditions. NNPs usually work in the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) of hospitals and medical clinics. Keep reading to learn more about this career and the requirements for becoming an NNP. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) work with other medical professionals to treat newborn babies and communicate with their families. NNPs perform basic medical care procedures for newborns, such as administering medications, taking vital signs, recording patient activity, and often making quick medical decisions. These nurses treat newborn babies with conditions such as prematurity, physical abnormalities, sepsis, respiratory disorders, and conditions requiring surgical operations. Due to the fragile nature of the patients, NNPs must be able to provide care in emergency and urgent medical situations.

Neonatal nurse practitioners work in a Level II or Level III NICU, which is based on the treatments and medical care offered by a hospital. They usually report to neonatalogists or other pediatric specialists. NNPs can also work in pediatric clinics, private practices, and research facilities that conduct studies with newborns. Although the focus of NNPs is on newborns, many neonatal nurses work with children from birth to two years of age.

Important Facts About Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

Licensure National Council Licensure Examination (NCELX-RN) required
Key Skills Patience, empathy, problem solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, organization
Work Environment Hospitals, physician's offices
Similar Occupations Charge nurses, nurse case managers, registered nurses

Duties and Responsibilities

NNPs perform a number of medical duties. Because NNPs have advanced educational backgrounds, usually including a master's degree in nursing, registered nurse (RN) licensure, and sometimes additional certification, they are given more responsibility than nurses in other medical departments. Many times neonatal nurse practitioners are required to do procedures such as resuscitation, lumbar punctures, and intubation.

Skills Required

The work of a neonatal nurse practitioner is physically demanding and requires nurses to be on their feet for hours at a time. Nurses often have numerous patients and make frequent visits to each. NNPs must be able to think clearly, using critical-thinking skills, and able to make important medical decisions quickly and accurately. They must communicate clearly with families and other medical professionals. Because they cannot communicate with infant patients, there is a significant focus on family-nurse relationships that require NNPs to fully cooperate with patients' families.

Additionally, neonatal nurse practitioners must be able to act professionally in critical situations, displaying patience and focus on patient care. NNPs must be able to write medical reports, use relevant computer applications, and display proficiency in medical knowledge and terminology. In many cases, neonatal nurse practitioners display leadership abilities through the supervision of less-qualified nurses and professionals.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of neonatal nurse practitioners earned between $62,975 and $121,482 a year, as of September 2015. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of neonatal nursing, the BLS did project that the employment of registered nurses will likely grow by about 19% between 2012 and 2022.

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