How Long Does It Take To Become A Neonatal Nurse

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

How long does it take to become a Neonatal Nurse? Longer than it seems, but well worth the wait. Let us fill you in on everything you need to know. In this article, we’ll look at the requirements for becoming a neonatal nurse and give you a general idea of what to expect from the process. We will also discuss how long it takes to become a neonatal nurse, salary expectations for the field, and what requirements may be unique to different states. Find out requirements and best practices for becoming a neonatal nurse, including starting your career as an RN before going into Neonatal and what you can do in the meantime.

Here you will find some of the most important information on how long does it take to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, how long does it take to become a newborn nurse, and so much more. Everything you need is right here on Collegelearners.

You will also discover related posts on how much does it cost to become a neonatal nurse on Collegelearners.

Neonatal nursing is a specialty field that focuses on the care of premature and sick newborn infants. Because this area of nursing requires a separate skill set that focuses on neonatal intensive and critical care, the program to train in this specialty has a different curriculum and clinical requirement than traditional BSN nursing programs.

What Does a Neonatal Nurse Do

One of the most demanding—and rewarding—careers in the growing healthcare field is neonatal nursing. This nursing specialty focuses on the care of newborn infants with health problems in the first days or weeks after birth. Neonatal nurses are trained to work with babies with physical defects, infection, cardiac irregularities, and other problems that may require the infant to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

A neonatal nurse works with newborn babies as well as their parents, helping them care for their child. They help new parents hold, bathe, and feed their baby, and often act as a bridge between the parent and the specialists working with the infant. Neonatal nurses typically work in hospitals or clinics, but can also work in a community setting, providing at-home follow-up care for high-risk babies and their families once the babies leave the hospital.

NICU Nurse: 5 Steps To Become A Neonatal Nurse

How long does it take to become a neonatal nurse?

To become a neonatal nurse, it will take you a minimum of four years. You will need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, get certified in either Neonatal Resuscitation or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing and complete clinical experience in hospital setting. You can earn the necessary certification and complete your clinical experience during your time in the BSN program.

How To Prepare To Be A NICU Nurse

There are two levels of neonatal nursing practice you can pursue. To work as a neonatal nurse, you must be licensed as a registered nurse (RN). To work as a neonatal nurse practitioner, a more advanced role with more professional responsibilities, you must be licensed as a nurse practitioner (NP) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS), both of whom are considered advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

What Education, Licensing, and Certifications Do I Need?

To become a neonatal nurse, you must earn at least a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), although a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is becoming more commonly required. You must also be licensed as an RN. Neonatal nurses must also be certified in neonatal resuscitation as well as earn specific NICU certificates if they’re working in the NICU. You may also be required to have a minimum number of years of clinical experience in a hospital setting.

To become a neonatal nurse practitioner, you will need at least two years of clinical experience in a neonatal intensive care unit before pursuing an advanced degree. Currently, NNPs need at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, although The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties in 2018 made the decision to move all entry-level nurse practitioner education to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree by 2025. You must also earn state certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner in the state in which you wish to practice.

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Individuals interested in learning how to become neonatal nurse practitioners (NNP) can review this guide to learn more about pathways to consider when pursuing the profession. Readers can explore information on NNP responsibilities, work settings, licensing and certification, resources for professionals, and related careers in the field.

Neonatal Nurse Salary

NNPs earn high salaries across the scope of their careers, with PayScale reporting an average salary amount of $100,081. In this guide, individuals can explore the best ways to seek these high-paying job opportunities.

Neonatal Nurse Job Description

NNPs work with newborn infants experiencing many different issues, including minor injury and life-threatening infections. These nurse practitioners (NPs) collaborate with doctors, patients, families, and hospital technicians to provide the highest quality of care for newborn infants. These professionals often work long shifts since patients in their care typically need constant care and monitoring. Additionally, each NNP must hold certification as both a registered nurse (RN) and an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse: 14 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow

What Do Neonatal Nurse Practitioners Do?

NNPs provide quality care for patients who require constant attention, such as sick and premature newborn infants in neonatal intensive care units, delivery rooms, emergency rooms, and specialty clinics. These NPs work under the direction of neonatologists or neonatal fellows but assume complete responsibility for their patients and execute necessary decisions to diagnose, assess, and initiate various medical procedures.

NNPs carry out many responsibilities, including providing support and education for patients’ families; monitoring ventilators, incubators, and other specialized equipment; and making sure patients are fed properly and receive appropriate care.

Where Do Neonatal Nurse Practitioners Work?

NNPs typically work in neonatal intensive care units in private and public hospitals. Most hospitals maintain four levels of care, separating infants based on their healthcare needs. Nurses focusing on level I, in newborn nursery care, provide basic healthcare for healthy, full-term infants. The need for these nurses is limited in most settings.

NNPs practicing at level II work in intermediate care nursery settings with sick and premature infants who require constant attention and care. Those practicing at level III in neonatal intensive care nurseries work with the most severely ill patients experiencing critical health issues that require intensive care. Level IV settings, such as regional neonatal intensive care units, provide care for newborn infants dealing with extreme, critical medical conditions.

How To Become A Neonatal Nurse Fast? 5 Stepped Full Guide

Steps to Becoming a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Professionals aiming to practice as NNPs can review the following steps — including educational, licensing, and certification information — to accomplish their career goals.

  1. EARN A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (BSN) DEGREE
    Before professionals can work as NNPs, they must earn an associate or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, which fulfills the educational requirement to begin pursuing RN licensure. Courses in BSN programs typically include community health nursing, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, lifespan development, and principles of ethics. Each aspiring professional must earn an undergraduate degree to advance into a master’s program.
  2. OBTAIN LICENSURE AS A REGISTERED NURSE (RN)
    Before professionals can pursue master’s degrees in nursing and complete certification to practice as NNPs, they must obtain RN licensure. RN licensing requirements include holding a BSN or an associate’s degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
  3. PURSUE SPECIALIZATIONS WHILE WORKING AS AN RN IN A NEONATAL SETTING
    Once professionals obtain their RN licenses, they can take part in professional experiences in neonatal acute care clinical settings. Generally, professionals need to complete at least two years of clinical experience working in neonatal intensive care units or comparable clinical settings to enroll in NNP graduate programs. Professionals in the field can also consider the following optional certifications:  • Inpatient obstetric nursing
    • Maternal newborn nursing
    • Low-risk neonatal intensive care nursing
      • Neonatal intensive care nursing
  4. GAIN ADMISSION TO AN ACCREDITED MASTER OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (MSN) OR DOCTOR OF NURSING PRACTICE (DNP) PROGRAM WITH A SPECIALTY IN NEONATAL NURSING
    To qualify for certification programs in the NNP specialty, individuals must gain admission to an accredited MSN or DNP that features a specialty in neonatal nursing. While MSN and DNP programs qualify professionals for neonatal nursing certifications, professionals who hold doctoral-level education can explore more career opportunities with higher salaries.
  5. EARN AN MSN OR DNP DEGREE
    NNP advanced degree programs typically include courses in evidence-based practice, advanced practice nursing in neonatal patients, advanced physiology across the lifespan, physical assessment and diagnostic reasoning, population health in a global survey, and neonatal assessment. In addition to the coursework requirements, enrollees must also satisfy 550-1,000 NNP clinical hours. A degree-seeker with a bachelor’s degree usually takes two years of full-time enrollment to earn a master’s degree and 3-4 years to complete a DNP.
  6. OBTAIN CERTIFICATION FROM THE NATIONAL CERTIFICATION CORPORATION
    The National Certification Corporation features a three-year NNP certification. Candidates for certification must meet specific prerequisites for the program, including holding RN licensure and passing a certification exam within eight years of graduating from a nursing program. Professionals must meet state-specific requirements for NP licensure, including passing an examination and providing proof of qualifying education. NCC certifications include women’s health care nurse practitioner and NNP.
  7. OBTAIN NURSE PRACTITIONER STATE LICENSURE
    In addition to national certification, professionals must obtain NP state licensure. States maintain distinct requirements for professionals to meet to obtain licensure, including educational, exam, and experience components.
  8. FIND EMPLOYMENT
    Once professionals satisfy the eligibility requirements for licensure and obtain official licensure and certification as NNPs, they can search for employment opportunities. Depending on their education level, professionals can explore different career options with varying salary ranges.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Credentials

To become an NNP, professionals must satisfy several requirements. In the sections below, readers can learn more about the specific steps necessary to achieve appropriate credentials and the types of national certification they can pursue in the NNP discipline.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Newborn Nurse - College Learners

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Licensing

NNP licensing requires both RN and APRN licensure. Aspiring NNPs can start by earning a BSN and fulfilling the requirements of an RN licensing program. Specific requirements to earn an RN license vary depending on the state, but in general, individuals must complete education and experience components, in addition to passing the NCLEX-RN examination.

Licensing requirements for APRNs vary, depending on the state and specialty. All APRN candidates must hold an MSN, at minimum. Additionally, APRN licensing requires applicants to satisfy educational and experience requirements, along with passing the licensing exam.

Degree-seekers can review the different licensing requirements through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and their state boards. Professionals can take advantage of resources to allow them to better prepare for the examination aspects of their licensing programs and explore other resources to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to demonstrate competency in the field.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certification

Professionals interested in pursuing careers as NNPs can consider several different certificate opportunities. The inpatient obstetric nursing certification requires professionals to complete a competency-based exam to test their skills and knowledge of obstetric nursing. Candidates must hold RN licensure, along with a minimum of two years of specialty experience caring for hospitalized pregnant women.

The maternal newborn nursing core certification tests specialty knowledge in the discipline. Certification candidates must pass a competency-based examination, hold RN licensure, and complete a minimum of two years of professional experience providing care to the childbearing family from birth to six weeks of age in outpatient and hospital settings.

Low-risk neonatal intensive care nursing certification requires candidates to complete a competency-based exam, hold RN licensure, and complete a minimum of two years of professional experience providing care to chronically and acutely ill neonatal patients. Neonatal intensive care nursing certification requires individuals to complete and pass a competency-based examination, hold RN licensure, and finish at least two years of professional experience in providing care to acutely and critically ill neonatal patients.

NNP certification requires candidates to complete a competency-based exam, hold RN licensure, and complete an accredited NP program in the NNP specialization, learning to provide care in outpatient and hospital settings. The women’s health care nurse practitioner certification requires candidates to pass a competency-based exam, maintain active and current RN licensure, and complete an accredited women’s healthcare NP program.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Resources

National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
NANN advocates for leadership and community for NPs by addressing the professional practice and workforce issues of neonatal APRNs.

Academy of Neonatal Nursing
he Academy of Neonatal Nursing functions as a professional organization for NNPs in the U.S. and provides neonatal programs and education to healthcare professionals.

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses
AWHONN, as a nonprofit membership organization, promotes the health and wellness of newborns and women.

Nurse.com Job Search
This search engine allows professionals to explore job opportunities specific to their nursing specialty and location, inputting distance parameters to ensure they only review openings in their ideal locations.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners
AANP is the largest full-service national professional membership organization dedicated to NPs from all specialties of nursing in the United States.

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