How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in California - CA
By K'Lee Banks, allied health world contributing writer
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Newborn infants receive specialized attentive care, from birth through the age of 28 days, from neonatal nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners. It is an intensive labor of love to expertly care for these tiny patients.
Neonatal Nurse and Practitioner Requirements
As a relatively new nursing specialty, neonatal nurses and practitioners are in great demand. A bachelor’s degree in nursing is the requirement for a neonatal nurse, whereas a neonatal nurse practitioner must hold a master’s degree in nursing. An additional requirement for either position is training and certification in neonatal resuscitation, neonatal intensive care nursing, or both.
Either neonatal professional may train for any or all three levels of care:
- Level 1: Healthy infant care. Improved healthcare, along with mothers and babies sharing rooms, has decreased the need for this level, though not totally eliminated it.
- Level 2: Premature /sick baby care. Since these infants need continuous care, this level characterizes a greater overall demand.
- Level 3: Intensive care for acutely ill/premature infants. These little ones require ongoing supervision, usually in a neonatal intensive care unit, known as NICU.
The California State Board of Nursing must grant approval and certify each neonatal nurse or practitioner before he or she begins neonatal nursing practice.
Neonatal nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners, like other nursing careers, are in high demand. The National Association of Neonatal Nurses and the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided figures between 2009 and 2010 noting a significant increase in demand is likely for this nursing specialty from now until 2018. The need for their special neonatal expertise will continue, as long as the current rate of 40,000 premature infant births continues or rises on an annual basis in the US.