One of the most interesting sub-specialties in nursing is neonatal nursing. This is the field in which nurses work with infants that are newly but prematurely born or they are born with problems such as infections, birth defects, surgical needs, and heart malformations.
The Neonatal Period
Technically, the neonatal period of life is classified as the very first month of life. It is during this time that any medical care for a child will be considered neonatal care but many of these newborns are ill for many months and some of them years, extending the need for neonatal care.
Neonatal nursing is basically the care for all of these infants and everything that is required for that care. It is a highly specialized field of nursing requiring extensive training after the initial schooling of nursing. It is, however, a very noble level of care and it is a field that is in constant need of nurses.
Neonatal Nursing Care
For the most part, neonatal nurses will care for infants right from the time they are born until they are fully discharged from the hospital. Depending on the state of the infant, this could be weeks to months but some care may even go on up until the children are two years old.
There are many children born prematurely every year and they require special care and attention. Some of them are born addicted to drugs and others have birth defects that can affect their immediate and lifetime health. The level of care they need will be determined by doctors, but it is the neonatal nurse who does the actual care.
Premature Births in the United States
The rate of premature or low birth weight babies being born every year in the United States is at about 40,000 births annually. It is thanks to the many advances of medicine and advances in care that these infants are seeing a survival rate that is 10 times improved from what it was fifteen years ago.
It is important to remember that these babies are very vulnerable and need care around the clock. There can be no exceptions considering the fact that many of them are dealing with serious health problems in addition to low birth weight.
Being a Neonatal Nurse
If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of prematurely born infants and their families, neonatal nursing is a good profession for you to consider. While you may already be a nurse in another specialization, you should look further into neonatal care. You will be the one to care for the smallest and sickest of all.
You will be working in a hospital setting, most likely in a nursery at level two which cares for the less critical patients. You may be in a level three which does care for the most critical infants. This is all to be determined based on your skills and the needs of the infants.
You may be working twelve hour shifts because neonatal care is around the clock.