Nursing is considered one of the most demanding, yet satisfying, jobs on the market. I think neonatal nurses are earthly angels, giving infants their best chance at growing up strong and healthy.
Who Are Neonatal Nurses?
Those who enter the nursing profession do it because they have a gift for helping others in their times of greatest need.
The field of neonatal nursing consists of various specializations, offering a wide range of options in career choice.The term neonatal refers to the first 28 days of a child’s life.
Three Levels of Neonatal Nursing
- Level I- This level is focused on healthy infants. This is possibly the only level of neonatal nursing that has seen a decline in recent years, due to healthy infants spending more time with their mothers immediately after birth. Reduced length of stay has also attributed to the decrease of newborn nurseries.
- Level II – Nurses who work in this level of neonatal care attend premature and newborns with illnesses. They help babies in their first month of life who may need more time to mature, IV therapy, specialized feedings and supplemental oxygen.
- Level III – All neonates (babies up to 28 days old) who need advanced medical care are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The nurses in this specialization provide direct patient care to infants that are small for their age, premature or sick term babies that need ventilators, special equipment or incubators, other high technology care, and surgery. Level III NICU units can be found in large general hospitals and children’s hospitals.
Like the Babies They Care for, The Field of Neonatal Nurses is Growing
As we advance medical technology, the specialization of this field has shown a parallel growth rate. Requirements for neonatal nurses are usually established by the employer, but proficiencies in math calculations, the use of medications, intravenous lines and other topics associated with direct patient care are expected.
There are various specializations in the field of neonatal nursing, with the average earnings of around $60,000. Due to high demand and shortage of nurses across the nation, nursing is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to remain a steadily rising career in all areas of specialization.
Furthering Your Certifications and Education
Neonatal nursing degrees and certifications are obtained through at least a 2 or 3-year course in basic nursing with an Associate in Science Degree in Nursing (ASN/ADN). A Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) takes 4 years and offers greater potential for higher earnings.
Earning a BSN is a critical step for career advancement in neonatal nursing, but it doesn’t automatically qualify a nurse for any career. The 2,000 hours in 24 months of specialty experience required to take the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing certificate is in addition to employment in the field in the previous 24 months.
It’s All About the Babies
Neonatal nurses provide struggling infants a fighting chance at healthy lives, offering their families hope for many tomorrows.