High-risk infants are among the most vulnerable patients that nurses assist. In the United States alone, 3.7 million babies are born each year. Of those births, about 10% are preterm, which means they need specialized care by doctors and nurses to survive. Even when babies are not preterm, they may be born with conditions requiring immediate emergency care. Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are among the medical team members who assist in these situations.
The following information provides more information and steps to becoming an NNP:
- What does a neonatal nurse practitioner do?
- Where can a neonatal nurse practitioner work?
- What is the salary range for neonatal nurse practitioners?
- What are the steps for becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner?
- Is it necessary to earn an MSN or DNP degree?
- Do NNPs require any special certifications?
- What is the job outlook for neonatal nurses?
What does a neonatal nurse practitioner do?
Neonatal nurse practitioners care for sick and premature newborns. These nurses work with neonatologists in hospital and non-hospital settings. Sometimes they must assist in the delivery of babies in certain situations such as babies who are premature, drug-addicted or in withdrawal, or have known genetic disorders or surgical birth defects.
Not all the work happens once a baby is born. These nurses work tirelessly behind the scenes to help lower morbidity and mortality rates for infants. NNPs must have extensive training that permits them to diagnose, plan treatments, and prescribe medications.
Where can a neonatal nurse practitioner work?
Neonatal nurse practitioners most commonly work in neonatal intensive care units in hospitals. They can also work in the following environments:
- Delivery rooms
- Emergency rooms
- Government and community health agencies
- Intensive care units
- Specialty clinics
NNPs work under the direction and supervision of neonatologist physicians or neonatal fellows. They assume responsibility for patient health and must use good judgment when evaluating, diagnosing, and applying medical procedures.
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What is the salary range for neonatal nurse practitioners?
Salary.com gives a more specific breakdown of different types of NPs and their earnings. It lists the national average salary for NNPs as $127,156 as of May 27, 2021. The top five include highest paying locations for NNPs are:
|LOCATION||PERCENTAGE OVER NATIONAL AVERAGE|
|San Francisco, CA||25|
|New York, NY||20.3|
Pay for neonatal nurse practitioners is adjusted based on experience and skill level. Incredible Health’s Nurse Salary Estimator provides a personalized salary estimate based on location and nursing specialty.
What are the steps for becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner?
There are several steps involved in becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner. Nurses must choose a nursing specialty and earn a nursing degree. Many people choose to receive an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Here are some other options for becoming a nurse:
- ADN to BSN program – ADNs have the longest journey toward a BSN. It can take up to five years to earn a BSN depending on the program and the number of hours a person can commit to completing courses.
- RN to BSN bridge program – Alternatively, nursing professionals who already hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) can enter an accelerated RN to MSN program that allows them to earn a BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) simultaneously. The bridge program can be completed in as little as 12 months depending on the program’s structure and how much time an RN has each week to commit to completing their studies. Always check with the employer’s Human Resources department before enrolling in an RN to BSN bridge program. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement. Hospital systems often have strong connections with online universities, which can make fitting a BSN program easier into a busy lifestyle.
Earning a BSN is not the final step toward becoming an NNP. If not already an RN, future nurses must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to earn their RN licensure. Once they have their RN license, they will need to gain at least two years of experience as an RN working in a neonatal intensive care unit or clinic. This is a requirement of acceptance into a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduate program, which is the final step to becoming an NNP.
Is it necessary to earn an MSN or DNP?
Earning an MSN or DNP is the final step in the journey to becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner. An RN must choose an accredited program with a specialty in neonatal nursing. Online and traditional MSN and DNP programs are available. These are some options for advancing degrees:
- RN to MSN – An RN to MSN bridge program helps if someone doesn’t have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It allows them to go directly into a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program to finish their MSN and BSN simultaneously.
- MSN to DNP – Nurses with an MSN degree often take the next step to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The MSN to DNP is the traditional path for students who want to earn the DNP.
- BSN to DNP – Many nurses want to advance their careers at an accelerated pace and choose the BSN to DNP bridge program
Do NNPs require any special certifications?
After completing graduate or postgraduate education, an RN is eligible for national certification. Most states require a neonatal nurse practitioner to obtain national certification, although not all states recognize the same national specializations. It is necessary to check with the state’s board of nursing to determine which specializations are recognized before applying.
What is the job outlook for neonatal nurse practitioners?
The future is bright for neonatal nurse practitioners. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 45% growth for NNPs between now and 2029. Some of the growth is due to an increased focus on preventative care for at-risk births. This will only increase as healthcare is beginning to focus more on educating the public on how to avoid problems before they arise.
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