In order to become an NNP, students must hold a masters or doctorate degree in nursing.
Neonatal Nurse Specialist Degree Requirements
Becoming a NNP is a lengthy process, but is doable for those who are dedicated. The first step is to become a Registered Nurse (RN) with a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). In order to obtain a BSN, students are required to pass the NCLEX-RN examination, a standardized test that every state board of nursing uses in order to determine whether or not a candidate is ready for entry-level nursing practice. After becoming an RN, nurses must get a Master of Science in Nursing.
Some neonatal nursing schools offer MSNs through an Advanced Practice Neonatal Nursing (APNN) program, which can be achieved in two years. After receiving your master degree, you must be certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and/or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing. Under specific programs, you may need to complete a minimum amount of years of clinical experience in a hospital setting.
Career and Estimated Occupation Growth
Neonatal staff tend to work in three different level nurseries, levels I, II, and III.
- Level I: These nurseries are dedicated to healthy newborn babies. They are practically nonexistent now because mothers and babies typically share the same room after birth and have very short hospital stays if there are no complications or health problems with the baby or the mother.
- Level II: This nursery is categorized as an intermediate care or special care nursery. Babies may need additional oxygen, be suffering from illness, were born prematurely, need specialized feedings, or need more time to mature. These infants must be monitored and need a little more time in the hospital before being able to be discharged. Nurses who work in level II nurseries are in high demand because infants must be monitored constantly.
- Level III: Level III nurseries are by far the most intensive and these nurses have the most responsibilities. They work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), caring for babies who are seriously ill or premature. They work around the clock, making sure that infants are stable and responding well to treatment. These nurses may administer medicine, teach parents how to care for their infant, and operate high technology such as incubators and ventilators. Some babies are in the NICU recovering from surgery, so level III nurses will monitor their post operation stability and progress.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary Information
Neonatal nursing is a relatively new specialty in the nursing field, however positions are in high demand. According to the latest survey from the The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is predicted to grow 31% by the year 2022. The salary for neonatal nurse practitioners is also attractive. According to the same BLS survey, the median salary for a neonatal nurse is $89,960. BLS source.