Neonatal nurses care for newborn babies immediately after birth and also work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Programs in neonatal nursing emphasize topics such as neonatal assessment, maternal and newborn physiology, and pharmacology. Candidates for neonatal nursing certification must pass a related examination.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
A Master of Science in Nursing prepares current nurses to provide care for critically ill newborns. NNPs may practice in the NICU, where they use their advanced knowledge and clinical judgment in the treatment of newborns. Graduates are prepared for the certification examination appropriate to their state.
Applicants to MSN programs must have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and be currently licensed to practice as a registered nurse (RN). Additionally, most programs require a satisfactory score on the GRE, a course in statistics and current employment in the field. Classes for NNP students emphasize advanced technology and scientific knowledge necessary for students to care for healthy and critically ill newborns. Topics of study include:
- Maternal-fetal-newborn physiology
- Advanced neonatal assessment
- Assessment of clinical evidence
- Pathophysiology of high-risk neonates (newborns under 28 days old)
- High-risk delivery
- Genetics for advanced nursing practice
- Medical ethics
- Research methods in nursing
- Health care policy
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Clinical Nursing
- Critical Care Nursing
- Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
- Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
- Mental Health Nursing
- Neonatal Nursing
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Administration
- Nursing for Adults and Seniors
- Nursing Science
- Occupational Health Nursing
- Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
- Registered Nurse
Post-Masters Certificate for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
Nurses who have a master's degree in another nursing specialty may pursue a post-graduate certificate, which allows them to obtain nurse practitioner certification in neonatal care. These programs prepare students to manage problems commonly seen in the NICU. The credits required for program completion may depend upon prior coursework.
Students must be currently licensed as RNs and have completed a master's degree in nursing prior to seeking training as an NNP. Up to two years of professional experience in caring for critically ill infants may be required for admission to some programs. Both classroom work and clinical experiences make up the post-master's certificate program. Specific areas of training include:
- Neonatal assessment
- Neonatal pharmacology
- Primary care of high-risk infants
Popular Career Options
The NICU isn't the only site that employs NNPs; additional options include clinical jobs in other facilities and positions in education. Opportunities include the following:
- Hospital neonatal wards
- Non-profit health care organizations
- Private practices
- University neonatal nursing teaching departments
Career Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for registered nurses were expected to be excellent, with predicted 16% growth between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com reported that neonatal nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $88,758 as of January 2016.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of accredited nurse practitioner programs are generally eligible to sit for the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner examination, which is administered by the National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties. Applicants must have a current nursing license.
Nurses who want to work with newborn patients must get a Master of Science in Nursing and post-graduate certification. When they do this, they are able to sit for the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner exam.