Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

What is a neonatal nurse practitioner?

According to the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN), "neonatal nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who work with the physicians and nursing staff to provide comprehensive critical care to the infants in the NICU." The NICU is an acronym for "neonatal intensive care unit." Newborns that are admitted into NICUs can suffer from a variety of serious health conditions such as premature birth, illnesses, cardiac and respiratory problems, low birth weight, infections, birth defects, and hereditary diseases. The term "neonatal" refers to the first twenty-eight days of life of an infant. However, neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) will often assist in the care of infants beyond this twenty-eight day time period, usually until the infant patient is released from the NICU.

While a newborn is receiving medical attention in an NICU, neonatal nurse practitioners also work in collaboration with affected parents and families in order to assist them in learning how to understand, cope, and properly care for their infant's specific condition.

How can I become a neonatal nurse practitioner?

The first step to becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner is to graduate from high school. While in high school, students are encouraged to complete as many science, health, and mathematics courses as possible. Advanced-placement courses are especially helpful. The next step is to earn either an associate of science degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN) from an accredited school.

By pursuing an undergraduate degree in nursing, students will often qualify to sit for the national examination necessary to become registered nurses (RNs) or vocational/practical nurses (PNs). This examination is called the National Council Licensure Examination, or the NCLEX. All neonatal nurse practitioners are required to pass the NCLEX.

After gaining a few years of experience working as an RN, the next step is to pursue a master's or doctorate program specifically designed to provide specialized neonatal nurse practitioner education and training. After pursuing a graduate degree, graduates pursue national neonatal nurse practitioner certification prior to employment. In addition, all states (as well as the District of Columbia) require nurse practitioners, regardless of specialization, to obtain state licensure. Neonatal nurse practitioners should contact the Board of Nursing in the state in which they intend to practice and learn about any additional professional requirements.

What is the career outlook for neonatal nurse practitioners?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals working in the field of nursing may expect an excellent career outlook in the coming decade. In 2008 there were approximately 2,618,700 nurses (including nurse practitioners) employed throughout the country. This already staggering number is expected to rise to at least 3,200,200 by 2018, which indicates a 22% growth in employment within a ten-year period.

The demand for specialty population oriented nurse practitioners is increasing for several reasons. For example, every year experienced neonatal nurse practitioners are leaving the field, which creates immediate openings for qualified newcomers. Also, as the availability of advanced technology continues to expand for the purposes of medical diagnosis, observation, prevention, and treatment, patient care will become more cost-effective for larger numbers of newborn infants. Consequently, additional neonatal nurse practitioners will be needed to accommodate this widening patient base. Finally, as greater emphasis is being placed on the positive results of providing urgent medical care and attention to newborns with health complications, more neonatal nurse practitioners are necessary to deliver specialized services. Learn more about the neonatal nurse practitioner job description.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Schools

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            Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
            • Programs include Bachelor of Science in Nursing—RN-to-BSN, Master of Science in Nursing, and more.
            • Experienced faculty members provide a practical knowledge of patient care, treatments, and research in the field of nursing.
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            M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)
            • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
            • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
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            DNP - Doctor of Nursing Practice (CCNE-accredited)

            About Capella University
            An accredited online university, Capella University offers bachelor’s, master’s/MBA, doctoral, and certificate programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession. Our competency-based curriculum delivers both foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.


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            Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner
            Keiser University Campus , New Port Richey
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            Family Nurse Practitioner (PGC)
            • Began in 1899 as Draughon’s Practical Business College.
            • Features campuses that are heavily engaged in their respective communities, providing professional service from students and faculty.
            • Offers financial aid, scholarships, and counseling for both active and post-duty military students.
            • Has 15 campuses across the United States, as well as 4 art institutes in North Carolina and Texas.
            • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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