Working With Critically Ill Newborns
The neonatal intensive care nurse has an extremely fulfilling and high stress job. This nurse is specially trained to work with critically ill newborns. The neonatal intensive care nurse will only be found in hospitals or in very large well-equipped clinics. This nurse provides intensive care to premature babies, and babies born with congenital defects or diseases. The infants in the nurse’s care are monitored so intensely that in some units a neonatal intensive care nurse may only have two patients at a time
Neonatal intensive Care Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The neonatal intensive care nurse will monitor the vital signs of the infants in her charge. Some will be on ventilators and the nurse will maintain the equipment and monitor oxygen levels and pressure. Others may have cardiac monitors and IVs or feeding tubes. The neonatal nurse administers medications, feedings, bathes and changes the infants – amongst other roles.
The infants in the NICU normally require constant monitoring both visually and with telemetry. Many neonatal ICUs will return infants to the NICU immediately after surgery rather than placing them in a normal recovery room. The neonatal ICU nurse will then monitor the infant to ensure they recover from the anaesthetic without complications.
The job of a NICU nurse is fast paced, stressful and often emotionally draining. This is a position that requires the nurse be 100% focused on their tiny patients every moment they are on duty.
How to Become a Neonatal intensive Care Nurse
Becoming a neonatal intensive care nurse may take determination on the part of the graduate nurse. Generally, clinical hours in nursing school do not cover the NICU area. The few students who may do rotations in NICU are generally at the top of their class. However, in some hospitals nurses can in their last semester volunteer as a medical tech in the Neonatal Unit. The higher grade point average a student has in nursing school, the easier time they may have in entering neonatal intensive care nursing. .
Openings in the NICU may require the graduate and licensed nurse work in another unit. However, excelling in pediatrics, newborn care and child development can give a nurse the edge when an opening does occur.
Neonatal intensive Care Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
- Graduate from accredited nursing school with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A Master of Science in Nursing may give the new nurse an advantage in interviewing for a position in NICU.
- Receive a certification as a neonatal resuscitation provider. Newborns are very fragile and resuscitation techniques for them are different. While waiting for a position in NICU to open certification as an NICU nurse may be helpful.
- Critical care nurses obtain neonatal certification by taking an online exam offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation. Nurses who successfully pass the exam, which includes various aspects of neonatal care including knowledge, procedures and protocol, receive certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN). Applicants can choose to take the exam online by filling out an online application along with their immediate supervisor’s contact information. The corporation determines eligibility through contact with employers of applicants. Nurses do not have to become certified in order to work in a neonatal setting, but certification is highly sought after by hospitals.
Neonatal intensive Care Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The neonatal intensive care nurse career outlook is very bright. The number of nursing jobs will increase by at least 21% through the year 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average salary of a neonatal intensive care nurse is from $70,000 – $119,000 per year depending upon the location of the nurse and their education level.