If you want to enter in the field of nursing and health care, then certified nursing assistant (CNA) is the best option to start your careers-in-nursing. There are many specializations for nurses like Emergency Nurse, Mental Health Nurse, Nurse Midwife etc.; and these have been options for nurses for ages, nut Neonatal Nurse is a relatively new specialization in the field of nursing. In the health care profession many new innovations take place and new professions are born out of these innovations so that better services can be availed to the patients and they can get the best possible treatment and cure for the illness they are suffering from.
Each specialized filed demand different skills and these skills can either be gained by experience or by taking special training when you are pursuing education at nursing schools. But health care is a very sensitive field and it is preferred that you have the specialized skills before you start working in the specific health care setting. More so when it comes to neonatal nurse because you will have to take care of newly born babies who need special care. The term neonatal is used for the first 28 days of a baby in this world, so you should be able to give good nursing care to these delicate babies and it requires specialized skills.
Duties of a Neonatal Nurse
As per the guidelines set by perinatal care, neonatal nurses work as Level I, II and III nurses and their roles and responsibilities change according to the level. These levels are set so that the highly efficient nurses can serve the babies who need intensive care.
Level I involve taking care of those newborns who are in good health. But in today’s times when mothers and babies stay in the same room and the stay at hospitals is very short the need for level I neonatal nurses is next to nothing. Level II is about intermediate care of babies who may be born prematurely due to some reason or may be having some illness at the time of birth. Such newborns require additional care like supplemental oxygen, special feeding, intravenous therapeutic treatment or they make take longer period to mature before they can be discharged from the hospital.
Neonatal intensive care units (NICU) need the services of level III nurses because neonates are admitted during the first 28 days of their lives and need better care than the level I and II nurses can provide for. Babies who are small in size for their age, are prematurely born or are sick infants and need intensive treatment with highly advanced procedures are taken care by level III neonatal nurses. These babies need technology based treatment such as ventilator, incubator or need to undergo surgery. Level III nurses are required at large general hospitals or children’s hospital.
As a neonatal nurse you have to option of working in NICU of hospitals or work in newborn nurseries which take care of healthy babies. When you start out you usually work at level I and then gradually progress to the next levels as you gain experience. To work at level III you must have a minimum of two years of experience in neonatal nursing. However, this requirement may vary from employer to employer.
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse
To work as a neonatal nurse you must become a RN by getting a bachelors degree or associate degree in nursing from a nursing board approved school and you need to specialize in neonatal nursing after you pass the nursing exam for licensure (NCLEX). You must take such training in a neonatal department of a hospital. Specialized training during the two or four year college degree for neonatal nursing is not available as in case of mental or pediatric care. The National Association of Neonatal Nursing recommends that one should take two years of training in the neonatal departments of hospitals before starting professional practice.
Another option is to become a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with neonatal being the major subject. There are no mandatory requirements to work as a RN in NIUC, but you must possess a neonatal Resuscitation certificate. RN working in NICU must have competencies like advanced intervention and ability to administer high risk drugs. Some hospitals employ nurses who have more than one year of experience in pediatric care or adult health and surgical nursing homes because neonatal specialized nurses are less than the numbers in which they are required.
Job Outlook for Neonatal Nurse
Neonatal nurses are very much in demand and trained professionals are very less because it is a relatively new specialization and optimum training opportunities is not available. If you are pursuing a BSN or ADN degree you can look forward to being a neonatal nurse. Overall nursing jobs are set to increase by 26 percent till 2020, but neonatal nursing jobs are expected to grow at an even higher rate. The average salary of CNA is 35,000, RN is $65, 000,but a neonatal nurse can expect to earn anything around $90,000.
Job opening for neonatal nurses is more and the salary is much better as compared to a registered nurse. So aspiring nurses can look forward to specializing in this field and venture into a profession which need a very high sense of responsibility as you have to take care of newborns.