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Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse: Education and Career Information

If you’re one of those individuals who want to see babies get healthy when they are born with congenital defects or are having trouble because they were born prematurely, you may want to consider a career as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. Nurses in the NICU have devoted their lives to the treatment and monitoring of babies who are in life-threatening positions. This is a highly specialized position that requires additional training beyond a standard licensed registered nurse.

What does a neonatal intensive care nurse do?

A neonatal intensive care nurse works with other healthcare and medical professionals to determine the right course of action in caring for newborns and infants who are at risk. These babies can be premature, or were born with ailments and defects that prevent them from leaving the medical facility. They provide support and comfort to these babies, work to educate the mothers and other family members on caring for these infants, administers treatment and medication prescribed by the physician, and is very adept in using all the technology, advanced equipment and procedures needed to successfully nurture these infants into a condition where they are able to function on their own.

These nurses can become Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Specialists (ECMO), and must be able to communicate and teach complicated care requirements to others. This is a high stress area, but is very rewarding to those who care for infants. You will find these nurses in emergency infant care centers, medical facilities and units where critical infant care is prevalent.

How much does a neonatal intensive care nurse earn?

This is a very lucrative career path and is in high demand. Job satisfaction in this area is very high. According to Payscale, these nurses can make up to $44.89 or higher per hour. This varies based on education level, location, and years of experience. As with any position, the higher the education level, opportunities become available to function as a nurse manager, director, instructor or more.

What types of skills are required to be successful as a neonatal intensive care nurse?

Because this is a highly specialized position, there are a number of skills needed to be successful in this position:

Critical Thinking: A neonatal intensive care nurse must be able to determine when the infant is in distress, and consider ways to help them become comfortable.

Active Learning: The neonatal intensive care nurse must be able to learn quickly based on the recommendation of the physician, and from what they learn from each and every patient. This will assist in ensuring they are providing the best care possible.

Good Judgment: Having good judgment is essential. The neonatal intensive care nurse must be able to determine when they need to call the physician, when the infant needs to be changed, whether or not the medicine is working, and a number of other scenarios.

Communication: The nurse must have excellent communication skills. They must be able to speak clearly to patients and other healthcare professionals, conveying important information. This communication also translates into reading and writing.

Management: Proper management is essential. They must be able to manage all of the technology, files and other information needed to properly care for the infant. They must be able to successfully manage their time and resources to make sure everything is in order.

Perceptiveness: The nurse must be perceptive enough to understand when the infant is in trouble, when parents do not understand what is going on, and how to successfully coordinate proper care.

Coordination: A neonatal intensive care nurse must be able to coordinate schedules, training and information sessions with a number of individuals, including healthcare professionals, family members and other staff. They must also be able to coordinate the schedules of their patients.

Technology: As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, the use of technology has become synonymous with the medical industry. A nurse practitioner must be able to successfully retrieve records using software, and properly use any medical equipment in the facility.

Internship requirements

Program requirements vary based on the program, but there are a number of clinical training hours needed to be successful in a neonatal intensive care unit that extend beyond standard requirements for a BSN degree. There are several years of experience working with neonatal patients required prior to sitting for the specialist exam.

Education requirements

There are both educational and clinical requirements needed to be a neonatal intensive care nurse. To become a nurse in this area, the student must first complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This is a four-year course of study and requires passing the NCLEX-RN exam upon completion of the program. Taking neonatal courses while in the program as electives is highly recommended.

The BSN program has a number of prerequisite courses that take place within the first two years. These courses include chemistry, psychology, algebra, anatomy and physiology. The final two years include clinical internships and hands-on experience. The clinical experience requirements are extensive, and usually take several years of experience working with neonatal patients.

Once the clinical experience requirements have been completed, the nurse will be able to sit for the certification of neonatal nursing given through the American Association of Critical Care Nursing. The certification is only administered after successfully passing this exam, regardless of the years of experience in this area.

Although this can be a very stressful work environment, it is a very rewarding career path. Nurses that work in this area are very compassionate and care about not only the patient, but their families as well. They offer support when needed and are rarely recognized for their efforts. This position requires a high level of independence and a passion for personal achievement. This is a lucrative career path for someone who wants to make a difference in the world of nursing and infant care.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

South University

Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.

Programs:

  • Nursing (BS)

Colorado Technical University Online

A degree from CTU connects you to what matters most: powerful professional network, real-world professional faculty and innovative technology. Once you earn your degree you hit the ground running.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education

Grand Canyon University

Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!

Programs:

  • B.S. in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to B.S.N)
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  • M.S. in Nursing: Public Health (Bridge)
  • And more...

Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
  • And more...

Liberty University

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)

Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
  • And more...

Southern New Hampshire University

Give your career a boost with an education from Southern New Hampshire University.

Programs:

  • MS Nursing
  • MS Nursing: Patient Safety and Quality
  • MS Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader
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Medical Careers Institute

Start a great career in healthcare with Medical Careers Institute.

Programs:

  • Nursing (RN-BSN) - Bachelor's
  • Practical Nursing - Diploma
  • Medical Assisting - Diploma
  • And more...

Keiser University Graduate School

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing

South University

As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.

Programs:

  • Nursing (BS)

Fortis Institute

At Fortis Institute, you may get the skills and training you need to prepare for a career.

* Programs vary by location

* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information


Programs:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Practical Nursing
  • Medical Assistant

Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Education - Nursing Education

Centura College

Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

Programs:

  • Practical Nursing Diploma
  • Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Medical Assisting-Clinical Concentration

Miller-Motte Technical College

Miller-Motte Technical College (MMTC) can help get you from here to a new career!

Programs:

  • Medical Assisting - Associate of Occupational Science

Everest College

Leave that dead-end job behind with training from Everest College.

Programs:

  • Diploma - Medical Assistant

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