Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: Job Information and Requirements

Sep 14, 2019

What does a neonatal nurse practitioner do? Learn about the job duties, salary and job outlook, required education and licensure, and neonatal nursing working conditions to see if this is the right career for you.

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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Information

What is a neonatal nurse practitioner? Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are specialized nurse practitioners who care for premature or ailing newborns in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), as well as in specialty practices and developmental pediatric clinics. NNPs typically hold a master's degree, a registered nursing (RN) license and nurse practitioner certification.

Required Education Master's degree
Other Requirements RN license and nurse practitioner certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 28% (all nurse practitioners)
Median Salary (2018)* $107,030 (all nurse practitioners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Job Description

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) serve as primary caregivers for premature babies and other newborns who require special care due to low birth weight, respiratory distress, congenital heart defects or various other abnormalities and disorders. Neonatal nurse practitioners help assess, supervise and manage the progress of their patients.

NNPs work in pediatric clinics and hospitals, often in emergency and delivery rooms or intensive care units. They must use and monitor such equipment as incubators and ventilators. NNPs consult and collaborate with neonatologists and provide education to their patients' families. Some neonatal nurse practitioners become educators in the field, offering classes on birth control, pregnancy and proper infant care.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide specific information for neonatal nurse practitioners, but rather includes them in the category of all nurse practitioners. According to the BLS, the median yearly salary of nurse practitioners was $107,030 in May 2018.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Job Outlook

The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for all nurse practitioners are expected to grow by 28% between 2018 and 2028. This is much faster than the average job growth for all careers.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Aspiring neonatal nurse practitioners must first earn their registered nursing (RN) license from their state board of nursing. To become an RN, students must complete a nursing bachelor's degree program, which awards them a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Students are trained in nursing skills, human anatomy, and pharmacology, among other areas. A clinical practicum, in which students gain experience working with patients in a healthcare facility, is also included.

Upon completion of their training, they may then take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as an RN. Some states have additional licensure requirements, so applicants may consider contacting their respective state boards for more specific information.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

To transition from RN to neonatal nurse practitioner requires completion of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) focusing on neonatal nursing. Programs often require applicants to have at least one year of experience in nursing; often students will spend several years working as an RN before returning to school to pursue an MSN. Once enrolled, students take courses in developmental physiology, advanced neonatal assessment, and neonatal pharmacotherapeutics, as well as complete clinical practicums with newborns and infants under the supervision of medical professionals.

Alternatively, registered nurses who already hold an advanced nursing degree can earn a post-master's NNP certificate. In addition to the appropriate graduate education, nurse practitioners typically need to obtain specialized certification in order to work as advanced practice registered nurses.

Required Skills

Neonatal nurse practitioners must be diligent and fast-acting since their response can be critical to the life of a newborn. Communication skills are beneficial to NNPs as they educate families about neonatal, intensive, and postpartum care. They must also be emotionally resolute as their jobs can come with the negative effects of losing patients who were under their care.

A career as a neonatal nurse practitioner is based on a foundation in nursing plus a master's degree and additional specialization in neonatal nursing. Like many healthcare jobs, NNPs will have good job prospects in the near future. Strong medical knowledge and the ability to think and react quickly are important for this job.

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