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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties, certification and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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A neonatal nurse will require an extensive educational background including a masters degree, residency completion and certification and licensure as a registered nurse and a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Essential Information

Neonatal nurse practitioners assist in providing care to premature or ill newborns. They work closely with other nurses, doctors and families to ensure high-risk infants are developing well. Neonatal nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have obtained an advanced neonatal nursing degree. At a minimum, they must hold a master's degree in their specialty, complete a residency and secure both certification and licensing as a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Required Education Master's degree in advanced neonatal nursing; completion of a residency is also required
Certification and Licensing Certification and licensure required in all states as both a registered nurse and a neonatal nurse practitioner; neonatal nurse practitioners must pass the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Board Exam
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 31%* (all nurse practitioners)
Median Annual Salary (2015) $98,190 * (all nurse practitioners)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Requirements

Working as a neonatal nurse practitioner requires obtaining a master's degree in an advanced neonatal nursing program. These graduate programs typically take two years to complete. Prospective students should hold a registered nursing degree and have a minimum number of years of nursery care experience. Advanced neonatal nursing programs include coursework in patient assessment, neonatal pharmacology and infant pathophysiology. Students are also expected to complete an extensive residency requirement.

Certification Requirements

Upon completion of a degree program, students are prepared to take the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Board Exam. This national certification exam tests and evaluates a neonatal nurse practitioner's knowledge and skills. All states require certification, which is a part of the licensure process.

Licensing Requirements

Neonatal nurse practitioners should already have a registered nursing license, but they are additionally required to obtain an advanced nurse practitioner license. State requirements vary. Common prerequisites for licensure include being a graduate from an accredited master's program and having a registered nurse license and national certification. Some states do mandate continuing education coursework to renew a license.

Career Info

Neonatal nurse practitioners work closely with physicians to assist in diagnosing, assessing and treating high-risk newborns. They also oversee registered nurses in neonatal units and provide education to new parents to care for their infant. Neonatal nurse practitioners are skilled in preventing infection risk and supplying proper nutrition for healthy infant development. They are also able to make medical decisions for types of care without a doctor. Most neonatal nurse practitioners work in hospitals.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median salary for a nurse practitioner, including in neonatal nursing, was $98,190 in May 2015. These wages are based on years of experience working in the field. Salaries can also vary by state.

A neonatal nurse practitioner must earn a master's degree and various certifications in addition to completing a residency. The projected job growth for all types of nurse practitioners is well above average, and the median salary is healthy as well.

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