Being a nurse is considered as a caring profession since it entails compassion and patience in order to work efficiently. If you love babies and children, you might be suitable to become a neonatal nurse. This area of specialization is responsible for providing focused care on newborns and babies 28 days old and below. Are you one of those aspiring to pursue this career? Keep reading and learn the ways on how to become a neonatal nurse.
How to become a neonatal nurse
1 Meet education requirements.
First and foremost, formal education is required.
You can either choose to take up an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Make sure that you enroll in a school accredited and approved by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
During the duration of the course, you would learn the basics and vital points in nursing which includes: pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, fundamentals in nursing and pediatric nursing care. You would also be exposed to the hospital setting wherein you will be taught on the proper ways to conduct assessment, administer medications, starting an intravenous line, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and etc.
If you are still in High School, start early and take up subjects such as: biology, physics and chemistry.
2 Become a registered nurse.
Once you are done with your degree, the next step is to become a registered nurse in the state you prefer you practice your profession.
The requirements and standards vary and depend from each state. However, all of them require you to pass the comprehensive test which is the National Council for Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). On the brighter side, there are also states that have a licensing agreement towards other states. To know more regarding this matter, you may check out this information from the respective state Board of Nursing.
Below is a list of requirements in order for you to apply for the NCLEX-RN examination:
- Valid Identification
- Valid Authorization to test
- Registration through Pearson VUE (can be done through the phone, mail or online)
- Registration fee of $200
- Completion of at least one to four years accredited training program (varied per state)
3 Earn certifications.
Although entry-level requirements for neonatal nurses vary from every institution, it is better if you earn additional certifications and trainings. Credentials and programs are offered by the National Certification Corporation. Most employers look for applicants who had undergone neonatal resuscitation trainings. Other popular certifications sought are:
- Low Risk Neonatal Nursing Certification – in order to attain this, you must pass an examination with emphasis on conducting assessments and giving care to low-risk newborns. A general neonatal experience of 2,000 hours is also needed.
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing Certification – an examination is also conducted regarding interventions and nursing procedures for treatment and care of high-risk infants. Same with the abovementioned requirement, 2,000 hours of intensive care nursing practice is also advised.
- Neonatal Pediatric Transport Certification – an examination along with 2 years hospital experience are needed in order to achieve this one. This could be very beneficial if you are planning to specialize in emergency transport of critically ill newborns.
Bear in mind that in order to maintain your license, regular continuing education are required. Therefore, you must participate and attend trainings and seminars in order to update and stay abreast with the current advancements and technology in health care.
4 Gain work experience.
Look for a good hospital and gain work experience. In order for you to become a neonatal nurse you must start by being a pediatric nurse within 1-2 years. Exposure to a Level 1 neonatal unit is also required before you would be allowed to work and handle newborns having special needs and requiring critical care. As a beginner, you are expected to adjust and be able to catch up with the hospital’s fast pace and action.
5 Pursue graduate school.
Having a Masters Degree in Nursing is one of the pre-requisites to become a Neonatal Nurse. This two-year Advanced Practice Neonatal Nursing program is offered by several nursing schools and colleges. Achieving this degree would also be useful if you have plans in pursuing a career as a Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist.
Another program suggested in the Post-Basic Diploma in Neonatal Nursing which aims to lessen both infant mortality rate and neonatal mortality rate. This is only a one-year program for those who have a Bachelor’s Degree and already had at least one year hospital experience.
The average annual salary of neonatal nurses is $80,414. According to studies conducted, job prospects and opportunities are expected to increase by 23% for the next 5 years due to the increasing population and medical advancements. This profession involves the combination of Knowledge, Skills and Attitude. Make sure that you can associate the three in order for you to provide quality patient care. We hope this article helped you in your quest for additional knowledge as an aspiring health care provider.
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