Newborns require a lot of attention and special care. This is especially true for prematurely born babies. Neonatal Nurses form a big part in helping babies and their families through very difficult times. It is their job to care for babies until they are healthy enough to go home. Being a Neonatal Nurse can prove to be upsetting at times but is an overall rewarding experience.
Neonatal Nurse Job Description
Most neonatal nurses work as a part of a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Nurses that are part of NICU’s have the responsibility of caring for babies from birth until they reach 28 days in age. Part of the job requires you to teach parents how to properly care for their child. Nurses preferably focus on educating the mother and try to get her to form a close bond with her baby. Other duties that are part of the job include;
- Maintaining the patients clean (changing diapers, bedding, etc.) as well as the area surrounding them.
- Proper feeding; some babies may require tube feeding if they are notstrong enough to get the necessary nutrients naturally.
- Giving necessary medications as prescribed by the doctor.
- Monitoring the babies’ health; this includes regularly checking special monitors.
- Taking proper notes in the patient’s medical record.
- Perform blood draws, radiographs, and other necessary diagnostic tests.
- Advising a physician whenever an emergency situation arises and assisting the doctor in giving critical care.
Neonatal nurse duties and tasks are generally specified depending on the area you are assigned to work in. NICU has three different levels that define the duties;
Level 1 – Primarily cares for healthy neonates.
Level 2 – Cares for mainly premature babies and newborns that become ill.
Level 3 – Specializes in caring for babies with critical health issues.
Who Makes a Good Candidate?
The obvious characteristic needed to become a good neonatal nurse is definitely being passionate about the job. It is also important that you are an emotionally strong person. This is important because there will be times when the babies and their family will need your support. It is also recommended that you are fit because you may end up working long hours. In addition it is also important that you are; caring, positive, and easy going.
Education and Training Requirements
Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree is the first step that needs to be taken for becoming a neonatal nurse. The first two years of the program are usually spent completing basic education requirements. Physiology, math, microbiology, and anatomy are some of the required subjects. After you are qualified to start the nursing education you will begin to learn about the career more in depth. You’ll learn about all of the aspects of providing good health care. In order to become licensed, you will have to successfully pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for RNs) test.
Nurses with a Bachelor’s degree can specialize in neonatal care by completing a Master’s program. Every aspect of neonatal care is covered by experienced neonate nurse practitioners and other health care professionals. Internships are required to help you gain hands on experience. In the end you will need to take a state board exam to become a certified neonatal nurse.
Neonatal Nurse Salary
Neonatal nurses have an average salary of $90,000 per year. Your salary all depends on the level of experience and education that you have. More experienced and educated nurses have a better probability of obtaining a higher salary. The average starting salary for a neonatal nurse is about $50,000 annually.
Job Growth Potential
Recent research has concluded that by the year of 2014 there will be a rise in births. This is mainly due to the increasing amounts of people that are undergoing fertility treatment. A rising number of premature babies being born is also expected. That means that job placement for incoming nurses will not be a problem. On the contrary, the demand for neonatal nurses is increasing.
When deciding to become a neonatal nurse it is important to take some time to consider a few things. Making sure you have the necessary characteristics in order to strive in this career is one thing to think about. Helping newborn babies and their families when they need it the most can be extremely rewarding. Containing the necessary passion will help you achieve your goal in becoming a neonatal nurse.