Labor and Delivery Nurse: Education and Career Information
If you have a maternal instinct and love working with babies and new moms, you may want to consider becoming a labor and delivery nurse. These nurses are skilled at helping the new mother become comfortable during labor, and helps to make sure everything is going well with the baby before their entry. There are a number of stages and things that occur during labor, and there are also risks and complications. This is a great position for someone who can think fast on their feet in a fast-paced environment. A lucrative career and it can be very rewarding.
What does a labor and delivery nurse do?
A labor and delivery nurse is an integral part of the maternity ward. They help provide care and comfort to women who are in the different stages of pregnancy and childbirth. They provide routine care, but are also able to work with emergency care and other healthcare professionals in times of crisis. They monitor the baby prior to childbirth to ensure everything is going well. This type of registered nurse (RN) can work in hospitals or women care centers and may choose to work in labor, delivery, recovery, or postpartum care. They may also work in each area based on the needs of the facility in which they work. These nurses also assist in operating rooms where Cesarean sections are needed. They are also able to work in the nursery, bringing the baby to the mother for feedings and other things, and demonstrate to the mom how to change diapers, start breastfeeding and properly care for the umbilical cord. Specific duties include:
•Monitoring the vital signs of the mother and baby during labor
•Measuring the timing and strength of the contractions
•Performing diagnostic tests
•Working with other members of the healthcare team
•Assists with induction of labor
•Coaching the new mother during delivery
•Monitoring and performing tests on newborns
How much does a labor and delivery nurse earn?
A labor and delivery nurse is a registered nurse (RN). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for registered nurses is $66,640, but can go over $98,880 per year depending on the demand, education, specialty, experience and location in which the nurse is employed. This field is expected to grow by 16% through the year 2024, filling a huge void that is continuously growing. Depending on where the nurse is located, the earning and employment potential can be great.
What types of skills are needed to become a labor and delivery nurse?
Communication Skills: A labor and delivery nurse must be able to work closely with the mother, healthcare professionals and other family members to disseminate information. They must be able to listen closely to what the mother is saying and feeling to fully comprehend the situation and move forward. They should be able to direct other staff members on what the mother needs, and should be able to clearly read and write to keep everyone on the same page.
Decision-Making Skills: Making sound decisions is crucial when working in labor and delivery. The nurse must be able to determine whether or not the mother is in distress and move quickly. They must also be able to decide when the physician must be called. This can be a highly stressful position at times, and thinking quickly to make the right decision must be a top priority.
Time Management Skills: As a labor and delivery nurse, there may be a number of things going on at one time. The nurse must be able to juggle multiple tasks while still dedicating the time and resources to each and every patient in a timely manner.
Computer Skills: It is important to have computer skills. Every patient has an electronic health record, and the nurse must be adept at working with these and other forms of technology in and out of the patient’s room. They must be able to use different types of software to make sure all the information on the patient is accurately recorded.
Supervisory Skills: A labor and delivery nurse must be able to direct the LPN and other staff members on how to assist when needed. They must also be able to take charge of a situation to make sure the patient is comfortable and well cared for.
Clinical Skills: Every nurse must have an in-depth knowledge of clinical skills to draw upon when needed. Labor and delivery can get intense within a matter of seconds; knowing what to do, what is going on, and how to resolve the situation from a clinical perspective is key.
Every program has certain clinical internship requirements that must be completed. The number of hours vary based on the educational level, requirements of the program, and specialty in which the student is seeking.
In order to become a labor and delivery nurse, the student must first obtain training. This requires an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) from an accredited program. An associate’s degree or nursing diploma is generally two years, and the BSN is a four year program. All nursing degree programs usually have coursework in microbiology, pharmacology, nutrition and anatomy. Taking specialized courses in fetal monitoring and resuscitation is also a good idea.
Once the student graduates from the program, they have to demonstrate basic nursing skills and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to show proficiency in the knowledge and technical skills required to perform the job. Some states require the nursing license to be renewed every two to three years.
Once the license is obtained, a licensed RN who wishes to work in labor and delivery must gain practical experience in this area. The nurse may apply to work in a birthing center, hospital labor and delivery, a clinic, or physician office. Once the nurse has practical experience, they may apply for a specialty certification through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Although not required, this will help distinguish the RN as someone who is serious about this area, and is willing to do the work to open additional doors of opportunity. There are a number of sub-specialty certifications available in this area. Certifications must be renewed through continuing education credits.
Becoming a labor and delivery nurse can be very rewarding and is an important part of the nursing profession. If your passion is in helping people and assisting in bringing babies into the world, this is the right career path for you. Although lucrative, it takes a very special person to be able to deal with the various stages of labor and complications should they occur. A labor nurse is a very special person. Knowing you took part in assisting with a new life can bring immense personal joy to not only the nurse, but the family as well. These nurses appreciate the value of life and take pride in all they do.
Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.
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