Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Job Description
By Allison Skoglind, allied health world contributing writer
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What is the general job description for neonatal nurse practitioners?According to the National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties (NCC), the neonatal nurse job description involves four major responsibilities: general assessment, general management, identification of disease processes, and professional conduct. Perinatal, neonatal, and family integration assessment is one of the key functions of a neonatal nurse practitioner. Here, NNPs perform physical examinations, behavioral analysis, clinical laboratory tests, diagnostic procedures, data interpretation, operate medical equipment, and follow up evaluations to better understand health conditions affecting neonates and their families.
Another important aspect of a neonatal nurse practitioner's job description is the health management of the neonatal patient. Often NNPs are required to monitor and manage the thermoregulation, nutrition, stabilization and resuscitation, pharmacology, and fluids that are essential to maintaining the best possible conditions for restoring neonatal health. Also, since neonates suffer from a wide range of debilitating disorders, neonatal nurse practitioners must use their extensive knowledge to identify the impact of diseases and ailments on the body in order to accurately recognize, comprehend, diagnosis, and suggest treatments for each patient.
It is the neonatal nurse practitioner's duty to uphold professional prestige and quality care; therefore all NNPs are required to keep legal and ethical standards in the highest regard. Finally, neonatal nurse practitioners are obligated to effectively communicate with parents and families to keep them informed about the medical decisions, potential health concerns, treatment consequences, and continued care options associated with their newborn infants.
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Where do neonatal nurse practitioners work?Although neonatal nurse practitioners are employed in public health departments, outpatient clinics, offices of physicians, private homes, and specialty practices, most NNPs work in hospitals and medical centers that have NICUs (neonatal intensive care units). NICUs are different than any other hospital nursery, as they specifically cater to newborns that need constant medical attention because of premature birth or acute health problems.
What are the three levels of neonatal intensive care units?There are three levels of NICUs, and neonatal nurse practitioners are relied upon in each. Level I NICUs contain newborns that have less serious health conditions. Neonates in these NICUs are not premature and generally stabilize after a very short period of time and then are transported into specialty care units (SCUs).
Level I NICUs are becoming less common throughout the United States. However, newborns that are placed in Level II NICUs are often premature by four-weeks or less and suffer from more severe health conditions that require more time and attention from NNPs.
The most premature and seriously afflicted newborns are treated in Level III NICUs. Babies that need the assistance of mechanical ventilators, high-tech imaging devices, and surgical procedures are the one's found in these Level III NICUs. Unlike newborns placed in Level I and Level II NICUs, these infants will likely require persistent care well after the first twenty-eight days of life.
What medical professionals do neonatal nurse practitioners typically work with?All neonatal nurse practitioners, regardless of the type of NICU they may work in, perform under the supervision of a neonatologist. Other staff members may include pediatric specialists, pharmacists, lactation consultants, physical therapists, counselors, respiratory therapists, and other nurses.
What type of medical equipment and intervention is common in the NICU?Neonatal nurse practitioners working in NICUs use various different kinds of medical equipment on a daily basis to accommodate newborns requiring consistent specialty treatment. Some examples of the equipment used by neonatal nurse practitioners in this setting include: incubators, feeding tubes, phototherapy lights, ventilators, nasal cannulas, umbilical catheters, peripheral IVs, pulse oximeters, and cardiac monitors.
What kind of non-medical intervention might a neonatal nurse practitioner perform?On a more personal level, neonatal nurse practitioners will sometime use touch therapy or "kangaroo care" to physically, mentally, and emotionally soothe infants in NICUs. Here, NNPs hold the newborn up to the chest for up to an hour at a time. This kind of intimate physical contact is thought to improve sleeping habits, regulate breathing, promote recovery, and provide overall comfort to the ailing infant.
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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Schools
- MS in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) - General
- Nursing - Adult Health Nurse Practitioner Specialization (RN-MSN)
- Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization (RN-MSN)
- Family Nurse Practitioner Specialization (MSN)
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