Career Spotlight: Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal Nurse - BlogConsidering a career change in nursing? Consider the career path of neonatal nursing! If being a part of a child’s early development sounds appealing, neonatal nursing might be the change you’re looking for!

What is a Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal nursing is a section of nursing that deals with newborn babies who are born with a variety of problems, including but not limited to, prematurity, birth defects and cardiac issues.

These nurses usually care for their patients from the time of birth to their discharge from the hospital.

According to the National Association for Neonatal Nurses, “neonatal nursing generally encompasses care for those infants who experience problems shortly after birth, but it also encompasses care for infants who experience long-term problems related to their prematurity or illness after birth.”1

How do you become a Neonatal Nurse?

A neonatal nurse is required to have a degree in nursing. This can either be an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You must also become certified in Neonatal Nursing.2

How much do Neonatal Nurses make?

The average yearly salary for a Neonatal Nurse is $66,640.2

This, of course, is dependent upon the type of degree you have, where you are working and multiple other factors.

What does a normal day look like for a Neonatal Nurse?

There are three levels to neonatal nursing. Level I nurses care for healthy babies, but the demand for nurses in this level is decreasing. Level II nurses are more in demand because they care for premature and sick babies who need constant attention.2

According to All Nursing Schools, “level III nurses have the most intensive responsibilities, working in the NICU and monitoring seriously ill or premature infants around the clock. They check ventilators and incubators, make sure babies are responding well, and teach parents how to care for their infants properly.”2

Is neonatal nursing the right choice for me?

Neonatal nursing may not be for everyone. Sometimes caring for very sick babies can be emotionally and physically draining. With that said, helping to heal such babies can make for a very rewarding career path.

Jennifer, a neonatal nurse in Chicago, says neonatal nurses spend a lot of their time building relationships with families of patients.  “A nurse is the one comforting a family when they receive bad news, educating them on what their life is going to be like as a NICU graduate and listening to their fears.”3

Because of these built relationships, neonatal nurses have to help families through difficult times. “I think one of the most challenging aspects of NICU nursing is watching a family’s hopes, dreams and visions of parenthood not turn out the way they envisioned. It is heartbreaking watching families grieve the loss of a child that they spent nine months envisioning,” Jennifer says.3

These nurses have to have caring and compassionate qualities, and have to be prepared to handle life and death situations.

There are also many positives to neonatal nursing. Jennifer reminds us, “the most rewarding thing about NICU nursing is following a family from the time they arrive overwhelmed and frightened to the joyous day they are able to take their new baby home. It is a day of celebration for both the parents and the medical team.”3

If you’re looking for a career path that requires a large amount of compassion and allows you to be a vital component to a child’s growth in the very early days of their life, neonatal nursing might be the career for you!

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