What is a Neonatal Nurse? What is the nursing salary for a Neonatal Nurse and how do you become a Neonatal Nurse? How do you find a nursing job to become a neonatal nurse? These questions are very common question many nursing students have about the neonatal nursing field. This article will address all of these questions.
Your decision to become a neonatal nurse will be a life fulfilling decision. Every year there are thousands of healthy and premature babies born to caring families. It is very important that the babies and their families receive the best care possible.
A neonatal nurse makes sure that all babies are healthy before leaving the hospital. This position requires diligent, caring professionals who are passionate about what they do.
Neonatal Nurse Job Description
A neonatal nurse provides care for newborn babies up to 28 days after they are born. That’s what the term neonatal refers to—the first 28 days after birth. However, in practice, neonatal nurses can work with newborns for months or even a year or two. These nurse provides care for healthy newborns, premature newborn babies, or work with extremely ill newborn babies in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
There are three levels of neonatal nursing in which graduates can work, which include:
· Level I Neonatal Nurse: consists of working with healthy newborn babies. The newborns remain in the room with their mothers and both are discharged at the same time.
· Level II Neonatal Nurse: consists of providing special or intermediate care for ill or premature newborn babies. The newborns may receive special care from the nursing staff at this level, or the newborns may need additional time before being released.
· Level III Neonatal Nurse: consists of caring for newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The newborns cannot be treated in either of the other two levels because they require high technology in order to survive.
In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) introduced a new level for neonatal nurses—Level IV:
· Level IV Neonatal Nurse: includes all the skills of the level III, but involves the extensive care the most critically and complex newborns. This facility will have 24 hour resident neonatologists and surgeons. They are involved with intricate surgical repairs like congenital cardiac issues and acquired malformations.
The responsibilities of neonatal nurses may include: surgical care, administering high-risk mediations, resuscitation, administering antibiotics, phototherapy, managing patients that require ventilation support, providing advanced interventions, and providing chronic care management.
Neonatal Nurse Requirements (Education)
The minimum educational requirement to become a neonatal nurse is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Some choose to take a different path and earn a nursing certificate or associate degree before earning the BSN.
The educational experience consists of lecture-based learning and extensive professional experience in a supervised setting. The first two years will likely consist of general education courses that are non-nursing courses. These courses may consist of math, science, and English courses. The educational courses that go toward the nursing degree may consist of Statistics, Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology.
A neonatal nurse must be a registered nurse. It is often required that the nurse must be certified in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing or Neonatal Resuscitation to become a neonatal nurse, and many employers will help you become certified as they provide you with on the job training.
Some employers will hire new nurse graduates right into a neonatal nurse position, preferring to train them fresh out of school. Other employers, however, will prefer applicants to have at least 1-2 years of experience of nursing work on a med-surge floor or in a nursing-related area.
Although the number of years of clinical experience varies by state, 4 years of clinical experience in a hospital setting is the requirement in most states for advancement. Some choose to advance their experience and income potential by becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP), and they earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to earn the title of clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or a nurse practitioner (NP).
The State Board of Nursing and the National Certification Corporation are a few of the choices that a neonatal nurse has for certification.
A graduate must successfully pass the National Council Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) to become a neonatal nurse. Topics covered on the examination include pharmacological therapies, health maintenance, and infection control. A potential neonatal nurse must check the eligibility requirements of the prospective state nursing board.
Neonatal Nurse Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (in general) earn an average of $33.55 per hour, or $69,790 per year (as of 2014). The BLS does not provide statistics for neonatal nurses specifically, but they will likely fall within that average. Because neonatal nurses often work in intensive/critical care areas (such as the NICU), they may be paid a premium of $1-3 more per hour. Nurses can also increase their wage by working night shift, weekends, or overtime, depending on the employer’s policy.
According to payscale.com, neonatal nurses earned between $46,806 and $93,609 per year. Depending on the level of experience, education, and state in which they live, neonatal nurses can make higher nurse salaries.
Neonatal nurses can expect at least a $20,000 increase in salary with 20 years or more of nursing experience. Working in large hospitals can increase the salary of neonatal nurses even more because many small hospitals do not have a NICU. Earning a master’s degree can increase the annual salary substantially.
Neonatal Nurse Jobs Outlook
The career outlook is expected to increase over the next 20 years for neonatal nurses. The increase is due to the shortage of experienced, certified neonatal nurses.
Another reason for the increase in jobs for neonatal nurses is the increase in modern day fertility treatment. Fertility treatment increases the number of premature babies that need the care of neonatal nurses.
There are certain areas of the country that require a higher number of qualified neonatal nurses. Tampa, Philadelphia, Shreveport, Cleveland, and Dallas are the areas that have the greatest need for neonatal nurses. These areas are likely to offer the highest salaries due to the great need for professionals.
Neonatal nurses are important for the healthy development of infants. The first 28 days of infants’ lives can determine the path of their lives forever. The roles of neonatal nurses are vital in hospital and clinical settings. Parents, doctors, and newborns depend of the expertise and of neonatal nurses to make a difference in the lives of many.
What Do Neonatal Nurses Like and Dislike about this Specialty?
Most neonatal nurses love their job and feel like it is a true calling, not a career. The ability to impact an infant’s life is by far the greatest reward. As a neonatal nurse, you’ll be able to care for newborns and nurse them back to health. It can be a great blessing observing how your skills in nursing have directly impacted the life of an infant. In addition, neonatal nurses love being advocates for the family and counseling them and offering comfort and encouragement.
As far as dislikes, it can be difficult emotionally dealing with newborn deaths, seeing newborns suffer, and more. This is definitely something neonatal nurses encounter from time to time. In addition, families can sometimes be very difficult to deal with, as they are often experience grief, fear, and financial difficulty from the resulting medical care.