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Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

There is no better time than the present to begin studying!

newborn baby
Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

(SALEM, Ore.) - For nurses who have a special interest and skillset in caring for neonates, taking your career to the next level to become a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) may be the obvious step.

There are many benefits of becoming an NNP, both for the population and yourself. If you feel stuck in your role and are ready for a new learning experience, alongside the chance to enhance your knowledge and skills to save the lives of neonates, becoming an NNP may be the perfect career move.

The Differences Between NNPs and Neonatal Nurses

Neonatal nurses have a range of incredible skills needed to assist doctors and neonatologists to care for neonatal babies.

They may assist in giving oral, nasogastric or intravenous medication, resuscitation, and feeding, but often they do not have a say over the general care plan of the child.

NNPs will work alongside neonatal nurses and neonatologists to provide advanced care plans and have an in-depth understanding of common neonatal conditions, in order to amend medications and cares as required. If you have a real passion for caring for neonates and want to advance your career, becoming an NNP is a great career role for any neonatal nurse who has the right experience.

Aristotle once said: “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.”

If you have what it takes to become an NNP and have the emotional resilience and empathy to do so, this is a career choice that could save and touch thousands of lives. To become an NNP, you need to have:

  1. At least 1 year of experience working with neonates in level 3 NICU, alongside previous nursing experience
  2. An RN license
  3. BSN (Bachelor’s degree) or MSN (Master’s degree)
  4. 3.0 GPA

The Main Roles and Responsibilities

Some of the main roles and responsibilities that come with an NNP role will cross over with the roles that you may have already had when working as a neonatal nurse, hence the need to have this prior experience.

As an NNP, you will be one of the primary caregivers to the child and family in the most crucial time of life. During this time, a neonate will need constant attention and excellent medical care to ensure that they survive and have the best chance in life.

As an NNP, you will need to understand neonatal conditions and issues to care effectively for every child.

Some of the main conditions/issues that you will learn how to care for include:

  • Heart abnormalities, including holes in the heart
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Respiratory distress or arrest

You will be taught the anatomy and physiology of these and many more during your time studying to become an NNP but as a nurse, you should be constantly looking to do your own research.

You should also follow neonatal nursing journals to be sure you are working alongside up-to-date, evidence-based practice.

As an NNP, you will work with a neonatologist or neonatal fellow. Some of the main duties that you will undertake in your role include:

  • Dispensing and amending medications under neonatal guidelines
  • Performing many different diagnostic tests
  • Calculating feeding regimes for each individual neonate depending on weight, condition and other factors
  • Ensuring basic care needs are met
  • Monitoring neonatal equipment
  • Educating parents and families to care for their neonate
  • Supporting families during a difficult time in their lives
  • Assisting and possibly leading respiratory arrest episodes

The Skills Needed to Become an NNP

If you are already a nurse, it may be that you have most of the necessary interpersonal and holistic skills required to become a hard-working NNP. Some of these include:
  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Approachability
  • The ability to work alone, as well as part of a team
  • Decision-making skills
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance

When becoming an NNP, you will not only have to work on advancing these skills, you will also need to acquire new skills such as:

  • Leadership skills - As an NNP, nurses and families will look up to you to provide the right care for patients.
  • Decision-making skills - This is here twice due to the importance of it. As a neonatal nurse, you may have to make quick decisions, but you will also have others around you to guide these decisions. As an NNP, you may be the highest qualified professional in an emergency situation and therefore your decision skills need to be on top form.
  • Confidence - You need to have the confidence both in yourself and in your medical expertise, to ensure that your colleagues and families have confidence in you to care for their child.
  • Breastfeeding expert - It may be that the only thing a mother can do for their neonate is to express breast milk that can be fed to them. As an NNP, you should have great breastfeeding support and advice as many parents want to breastfeed their children as soon as they are out of incubation. We should be doing all we can to promote breastfeeding.

Studying for a Doctor of Nursing Practice NNP

This neonatal nurse practitioner programs in Texas created by Baylor University allows those with the existing qualifications and experience to follow their career goals and become an NNP. You can choose to study for 2 years if you have previously gained an MSN-NNP, otherwise, the course is 3 years with a BSN degree.

What makes this degree unique and different is that you can study online, with only clinical placements. This is a great choice for those with busy lives who don’t have the time or money to travel to and from university.

The curriculum includes (all in relation to neonates):

  • Assessments
  • Critical thinking
  • Patient management
  • Neonatal nursing theory
  • Research utilization
  • Systems management

As a qualified NNP, you can look at earning around $96,000 annually. If you have what it takes to become an NNP, why not request more information on the course or apply now?

There really is no better time to begin studying, as the gap between nurse and doctor requires filling now more than ever.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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