The neonatal nurse is a job that will drain you and fill you up emotionally, depending on the day. Discover what a neonatal nurse does and what you need in order to get this job.
Neonatal Nurse – A Job for Strong Nurses
A job as a neonatal nurse (often referred to as a baby nurse) will test your emotional strength. Some days you will see new birth and experience the joys of healthy, happy babies. Other days you might care for babies that are facing critical health issues. Neonatal refers to the first month of life, so these are brand new babies with delicate immune systems. Working with neonates will test your emotional intelligence and ability to make smart decisions on the spot.
You will also have to have compassion and be able to communicate with exhausted and scared parents.
Is neonatal nursing the right job for you?
This guide will take you through every part of this job. I hope it helps you decide if you want to pursue it as your future career.
What Does a Neonatal Nurse Do?
First, let’s look at what a neonatal nurse does on a typical shift. If I could sum it up in one sentence, it would be that neonatal nurses care for brand new babies – whether sick or healthy.
Their list of responsibilities changes depending on how sick the baby is. You could be caring for babies born prematurely, with birth defects, or babies with infections, cardiac malformations, or surgical problems. Or if you are a level 1 neonatal nurse, you could be watching over healthy babies and educating parents about feeding and newborn care.
Your job isn’t just to care for the baby, although that is your main concern. You will also be encouraging and educating family members too. You will help them understand as much as they can about their baby’s health and what is being done to help them.
This video from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses does a perfect job of showing you what these nurses do.
Like many nursing specialties, neonatal nursing can be an exhausting job. You might have days where a baby doesn’t do so well and it can affect you deeply emotionally. But those days are mixed in with days where fragile tiny babies grow strong and come back later as healthy and energetic toddlers. This is a position that requires the nurse to be caring, empathetic, and able to explain complex medical things to scared parents and family members.
There are three levels to this job and your responsibilities change depending on which one you do.
- Level I – Healthy infants.
- Level II – Premature and sick babies.
- Level III – These nurses work in the NICU. They monitor seriously ill or premature infants constantly. Other responsibilities include checking ventilators and incubators, making sure babies are responding well, and teaching parents how to care for their infants.
Neonatal Nurse Salary
This might not be one of the highest-paid nursing jobs out there, but you can make a really comfortable living. The salary depends on where you work and how much experience you have, which level of nurse you are, and what part of the country you live in.
According to Salary.com, the average neonatal nurse practitioner in the United States ranges from about $100,000 to $133,000.
Base-level RNs that work as neonatal nurses make around $72,000.
How to Get a Job as a Neonatal Nurse
Does working with newborn babies and new parents sound like something you want to do? If so, check out the pre-requisites and skills you need before you apply.
First, you need to be a registered nurse. Obtaining your BSN will look amazing on your resume. If you want to be a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), you will need a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
Next, you need to get on-the-job experience. That means work in a hospital with a NICU. Ask to shadow a nurse and volunteer in the NICU or nursery. Many hospitals need baby rockers and this is a great way to get your foot in the door.
Finally, look at the specific requirements at the hospital to which you are applying. Some will require specific certifications. The most common ones are Neonatal Resuscitation and/or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing.
Once you have job experience, and ideally, the certifications, you are ready to apply for a job as a Neonatal Nurse.
Is This A Job For You?
Does working with babies – either healthy newborns or the critically ill ones – sound like something you want to do in the future? This job will be emotionally taxing and require a lot of emotional intelligence.
The best neonatal nurses are ones that are able to have compassion but still focus on what needs to be done without becoming overly emotional and making mistakes.
You also need to have excellent communication skills. You’ll have to talk to exhausted and stressed out parents and help them understand what is going on with their baby.
This job isn’t for everyone. But if you have a strong mind and want to nurse new babies to health, then look into the neonatal nursing job. You could make a huge difference.
More Nursing Jobs
I have lots of guides about other nursing jobs too. Browse through them and keep dreaming about the perfect nursing specialty.
- What Does a Cardiac Nurse Do?
- How to Get a Job in Nursing Informatics
- Hospice Nurse: What’s the Salary & Is It For You?
- ICU Nurse or ER Nurse: What’s the Difference?
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