How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Do you have a passion for working for infants and a dream to become a nurse? If so, you may want to think about pursuing a career as a neonatal nurse. Neonatal nurses are responsible for taking care of newborn babies that encounter health problems soon after birth. This is not the easiest nursing job in the world, but in many ways, it is the most rewarding. If you want to make a difference in the life of a newborn and his or her parents, you need to learn how to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. Here is a guide explaining how this process works so you can plan for what is to come for you.

Step 0 – Determine If This Is the Right Career for You

Before you can learn how to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, you need to figure out if this is the right career for you. Qualities of a good neonatal nurse practitioner include:

  • The gentle touch needed to care for newborns
  • A thorough knowledge of pediatrics and neonatal health care
  • A natural set of parental instincts
  • The ability to teach new mother and fathers about caring for their children
  • A love for babies and health care

Neonatal nurses have a huge weight on their shoulders at all times, and most people are not able to handle that regularly. This is an incredibly stressful part of the nursing field, and it is one of the most significant ones. Newborn children have delicate immune systems, and a single cough could literally kill a baby you are in charge of. If you feel that you can handle the responsibility for caring for a patient on this level, you should do perfectly fine in neonatal nursing.

Step 1 – Get an Education

The first step in learning how to become a neonatal nurse practitioner is getting a college degree in nursing. You will need to complete a four year bachelor’s degree program to work as a nurse in general, and then you will need to go through additional training to work in neonatal care. Here is an overview of some of the degree programs you will pass through to become a neonatal nurse:

  • Diploma in Nursing (DN)
  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

In total, you will most likely spend six years getting your education before you can become a neonatal nurse. This will involve courses like anatomy, chemistry, physiology, childcare, psychology, and pharmacology. You have to learn enough to be able to care for newborns with extreme illnesses or weight conditions, and that is not something that is going to be easy to do. This is one of the hardest nursing programs to work in, but it is also one of the most important ones. You might as well determine now if it is something you want to be a part of.

Step 2 – Pass a Licensure Exam

You will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses in order to work as a neonatal nurse practitioner, and you may have to go through additional certification programs per your state’s requirements. Every state is a little different, so you might want to check with the local nursing board to determine what exams you will need to prepare for. As long as you paid attention in your degree program, you should be able to pass the exams without any trouble at all.

Step 3 – Gain Work Experience

You will need to work for at least a year as an RN before you become a neonatal nurse. A lot of practicing neonatal nurses will work as RNs while they go through their master degree programs so that they can immediately find a job when they graduate from grad school. If you go to school online, you should be able to do this with no problem at all.

Step 4 – Find a Job

With all of the training behind you, you can focus your efforts on getting a job as a neonatal nurse practitioner. This is not one of the most sought after nursing jobs in the country, but it is still one that is in high demand. You just have to check around your area to find the place that you want to spend your working days in.