Neonatal nurses have an important job in a hospital. They care for infants as soon as they are born. Sometimes infants are healthy, and sometimes they have health issues. Learning more about this career will help you decide if it’s the one for you.
What is a Neonatal Nurse?
A neonatal nurse is a registered nurse that specifically cares for newborns. As soon as a baby is born, a neonatal nurse will give the newborn a full health review to ensure he or she is completely healthy.
If the nurse finds anything wrong, she will take the baby to a neonatal department in the hospital for further evaluation. In the neonatal department, the neonatal nurse will consult with physicians and perform tests to rule out dangerous health conditions, and will help doctors if procedures must be performed.
A neonatal nurse will also consult with parents to provide them with information about their newborn. They may counsel parents about the tests, procedures, and prognosis of their newborn baby.
Neonatal Nurse Salary
A neonatal nurse earns approximately $65,950 a year, or a hourly wage of about $31.71, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The location matters when it comes to neonatal nursing salaries however.
The BLS reports that California pay NICU nurses the most, and Massachusetts is the second highest paying state. Their average salaries for neonatal nurses are $90,860 and $86,810, respectively.
Neonatal Nurse Job Description
A neonatal nurse doesn’t have much down time. It’s a busy job that starts as soon as he or she enters the unit. Many times, these nurses will be bombarded with other nurses asking questions or handing them charts of the newest patients of the day. Other times, they may have to sit in on meetings to provide expert advice to physicians from other units, so that full care can be given to ill newborns.
As part of a neonatal nurse’s job, he or she will complete paperwork on the care and health of patients. After reviewing each case, he or she will visit with the patient, order testing, or schedule procedures. All of this information will be entered into the chart, and important instructions may be given to other nurses and doctors.
If there is an emergency, a neonatal nurse will respond quickly and skillfully. Seconds matter when a newborn is in trouble, and the nurse can save a life by being right there ready to do whatever it takes to stabilize the patient.
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
Before becoming a neonatal nurse, you need to have an undergraduate and graduate degree in nursing. The graduate degree is what prepares you to specialize in newborn care.
Neonatal Nurse Education
A neonatal nurse education starts with a Master of Science in Nursing. Many schools have a neonatal nursing program especially for students wanting to work in the NICU of hospitals. Besides learning about newborn’s care and health by taking courses such as pharmacology, fetus physiology, healthcare systems, and neonatal care, you’ll also have to gain valuable clinical experience.
After completing the program, you’ll need to be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. They have a certification for nursing practitioners, which suffices the neonatal certification you’ll need.
If the information you’ve read in this article excites you, and you can’t wait to become an expert in neonatal care, start your path to becoming a neonatal nurse.