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How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

What admission requirements are needed to gain entry into neonatal nurse practitioner schools?

Each neonatal nurse practitioner program has established a different set of eligibility requirements for granting acceptance. Entrance into many of these programs may be competitive therefore students with exceptional educational backgrounds will likely be favored. For instance, frequently only students that already hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or higher will be considered for master degree programs. Likewise, students often need at least a Master of Science in Nursing to be considered for doctoral degree programs.

Schools may also require applying students to submit GRE scores along with official transcripts indicating previous coursework

What academic subjects are covered through neonatal nurse practitioner education?

Although all neonatal nurse practitioner programs differ slightly in terms of required curriculum, students can expect general instruction in nursing theory, research methods, health care delivery, issues in cultural diversity, and leadership roles and responsibilities of advance practice nurses. Likewise, programs will integrate aspects of pathology, pharmacology, diagnosis, growth development, patient assessment, technical procedures, patient care, disease management, treatment options, and health promotion related to neonates.

Some specific examples of courses found in neonatal nurse practitioner programs include: Neonatal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Neonatal Assessment, Management of the High Risk Newborn, Health Promotion and Illness Prevention Across the Lifespan, Physiology and Pathophysiology of the Neonate, and Incorporating Genetics into Advanced Nursing Practice.

Most neonatal nurse practitioner degree programs conclude by requiring students to engage in supplemental clinical experiences in relevant medical settings such as tertiary care units, newborn nurseries, delivery rooms, NICUs, area hospitals, outpatient clinics or medical schools.

Since most students are also working professionals, academic programs often offer both full-time and part-time schedule options. Teaching methods within each program vary between schools. However, most students will be taught through instructed readings, mandatory lectures, online activities, group projects, class discussions, research-based evidence, case studies, comprehensive examinations, and applied practical training.

How does a neonatal nurse practitioner gain certification?

The National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties (NCC) is the premier certifying body for neonatal nurse practitioners. Currently, there are three major eligibility requirements that need to be completed before the NCC will allow neonatal nurse practitioners to take the competency examination that results in certification.

First, all candidates must hold an active license to practice as a registered nurse either in the United States or Canada. Next, all candidates must show evidence that they have completed a formal education program that resulted in a master's, post-master's, or doctor of nursing practice degree in the specialty of neonatal nurse practitioner. Finally, candidates must have graduated from their specific degree program between 2005 and the present. Once all qualifications have been meet and the examination is successfully passed, the NCC will officially grant certification for approved neonatal nurse practitioners.

What's involved in maintaining NCC certification through continuing education?

In order to maintain NCC certification, neonatal nurse practitioners must complete at least forty-five contact hours of continuing education that is directly related to their specialty every three years. Those that do not wish to engage in continuing education activities do have the alternative option of re-examination by the NCC. Some common ways to earn continuing education credits include participating in preceptorships, academic coursework, presentations, and literary publications.

Students that want to enter into an educational program that will help them qualify to get certified as a neonatal nurse practitioner are encouraged to select one that is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).

Learn more about the neonatal nurse practitioner job description.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Schools