Choosing to do my paper on neonatal nurse practitioner was an opportunity given to research the career I’m interested in, more in-depth. I’ve always dreamt of becoming a nurse since I started my high school journey, but I just didn’t know exactly what type of nurse I wanted to be. I looked up every single nurse type on Google, but to no avail.
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I decided to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesist because of the amount of money they made, but I changed my mind once I saw the amount of preparation it took to become one. Once I got to my senior year, I finally decided on what type of nurse I wanted to become: a neonatal nurse practitioner. I am super confident that working as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner will satisfy my love for babies and the dedication I have to help them reach the maximum potential they need in order to be in their mother’s arms, happy and healthy.
Neonatal nurse practitioners are “advanced practice nurses that care for premature and sick newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICU), emergency rooms, delivery rooms, or specialty clinics” (How to Become a Nurse Practitioner). They usually take care of newborns in their first 28 days of life. A baby under the care of a neonatal nurse practitioner “may need specific, focused care due to premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory distress, heart abnormalities, congenital abnormalities, and other disorders” (How to Become a Nurse Practitioner). “Although NNPs work under the direction of a neonatal fellow or neonatologist, they assume total responsibility for their patients, exercising judgment when necessary to assess, diagnose, and initiate medical procedures” (How to Become a Nurse Practitioner). NNPs’ level of care allows them to perform a number of duties including monitoring specialized equipment, providing education and support to patients’ families regarding neonatal, intensive and, postpartum care, dispensing medications under collaborative agreement with a physician, and ensuring proper feeding and basic care.
In general, the setting in which NNPs work determines the tasks they perform. Most hospitals have three specific levels of care that group infants according to their needs: Level One, Newborn Nursery care is for healthy, full-term infants. As such, the need for NNPs in level one care is limited. Level Two, Intermediate Care Nursery is generally where premature and sick babies who are in need of constant attention are assigned. Level Three, Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery is intended for the most seriously ill neonates with critical health issues who must be constantly monitored (usually referred to as the NICU).
The first step to becoming an NNP involves obtaining an RN license and working as an RN for a few years to achieve fundamental training. Following the RN license, NNPs must persue a a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in neonatology to be elegible for national certification and advanced practice recognition through all state Boards of Nursing. Some NNPs choose to pursue a generalist MSN, and later earn a post-master’s NNP certificate. Most advanced degree programs in neonatal nursing require at least two years’ experience in Level III nursing as an eligibility requirement. All NNPs must also complete supervised clinical practicums with newborns and infants (How to Become A Nurse Practitioner).
According to the National Salary Report 2011, which is published by Advance for NPs & PAs, neonatal nurse practitioners earned “$99,810 on average, while those with part-time positions earned an average of $45.31 per hour” (How to Become A Nurse Practitioner). The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth rate of 31% for this profession of nurses by the year 2022 (Nurse Buff). The skills needed to be a NNP are: “an empathetic understanding for the parents and other family members, an interest in newborn babies, a good understanding of the physiological and psychological needs of the new-born, the competence to work in a highly technical area, and the ability to work effectively within a multidisciplinary team” (NHS Choices).
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