Maternal and Neonatal Nursing

Maternal and neonatal nursing professionals provide care to expectant mothers in maternity wards and newborn infants. Neonatal and maternal nurses are registered nurses who have additional training. Continue reading to learn about the responsibilities of maternal and neonatal nurses, the academic requirements for employment, and the licensure and certification requirements.

Is Maternal and Neonatal Nursing for Me?

Career Overview

Maternal and neonatal nurses work with mothers and babies throughout labor and delivery. Maternal and neonatal nurses strive to make the delivery process easier and reduce the risk of death and other complications. You may also care for infants, particularly at-risk newborns, during the first few weeks of their lives. Other responsibilities include follow-up care, regular check-ups and newborn assessments.

Employment

In 2012, more than 2.7 million people worked as registered nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). This number includes RNs, some advanced practice nurses and nurses working in specialty areas. The BLS projects that between 2012-2022, employment of RNs will increase by 19%. As of 2012, the median annual salary for RNs was $65,470, as reported the BLS.

According to PayScale.com, the pay for neonatal nurse practitioners ranged from $50,415-$120,827 as of March 2014; this is the 10th-90th percentile range, and included bonuses and profit sharing as well. The BLS reports that jobs for nurse practitioners in general are expected to increase 34% from 2012-2022; these nurses earned median pay of $89,960 in 2012.

How Do I Work in Maternal and Neonatal Nursing?

Education

To work in maternal and neonatal nursing, you must be a registered nurse (RN), so you'll typically need to have at least a diploma or associate's degree, although the BLS reports that job prospects may be better for RNs with at least a bachelor's degree. In most cases, additional certification is required to work in specialized areas, such as neonatal intensive care units.

It's common to earn your nursing license by completing an associate's or bachelor's degree program in nursing and passing the state nursing license. Then, you can earn a master's or doctoral degree as a neonatal nurse practitioner or as a family nurse practitioner with an emphasis in neonatal nursing.

In a neonatal nurse practitioner master's or doctoral degree program, you'll learn about the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the nutritional needs of pregnant women and the development and physiology of a fetus. You'll study the process of monitoring a woman during labor, the drugs used and how they affect the fetus and the woman during the birthing process. You may also learn to prepare the family for their new family member.

Some courses involve completing simulated births, so you know how to react during emergencies and can stabilize the mother and save the infant. You'll also complete clinical practicums under the supervision of licensed neonatal nurses and doctors.

Required Skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses (RNs) should be compassionate, detail-oriented and able to cope well with the suffering of other people (www.bls.gov). They also need to be able to assess patients' conditions. You may find this job difficult because you're likely to work with sick babies, and can get attached to them, particularly if the infants are in intensive care for a lengthy time.

Certification

Upon graduation from a master's or doctoral degree program in neonatal nursing, you're eligible to take the certification exam, according to the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (www.nannp.org). To take the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing or the Maternal Newborn certification exams, you must have at least 2,000 hours working in the neonatal specialty.

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