Learn About Being a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

By | May 15, 2024

What is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner? – Neonatal nurses are the first wave of pediatricians who work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). They’re responsible for caring for newborns and their families during the early stages of life, from birth to 24 hours after they’re born. neonatal nurses have a unique perspective on care and work that is often not found in other healthcare professions. In addition, neonatal nurses are required to receive specialized training in neonatal care, which includes everything from resuscitation to mental health.

What Does a Neonatal Nurse Do | All Nursing Schools

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner


Neonatal nurses Practitioner (NNP) is a profession that has been growing in popularity over the last few years. With the changing neonatal care landscape, NNP’s are needed more than ever. In this blog post, we will discuss different aspects of being a neonatal nurse practitioner and what role NNP could play in your practice.

What is a neonatal nurse practitioner?

A neonatal nurse practitioner is a doctor who specializes in the care of premature babies and their families. Neonatal nurses practitioner work with hospitals and other health care providers to provide the best possible care for premature babies during their stay in the hospital. They are also responsible for providing obstetric and neonatal services, including contraception, nutrition, and early detection of problems.

A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) is an advanced practice nurse who works with infants that need special care. The most common problems among these newborns are premature birth, infection, surgical problems, birth defects and cardiac malformations. These nurses supervise, treat and diagnose infants.


NNPs frequently work in a hospital setting. Most hospitals have three nursery levels for infants which include:

  • Level 1, Newborn Nursery: Healthy, full-term infants.

  • Level 2, Intermediate Care Nursery: Premature and sick babies who need additional care.

  • Level 3, Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery: Seriously ill infants with critical health issues.

NNPs are rarely needed in level one nurseries. However, they may work in both level two and level three nursery settings. NNPs may also provide care in an emergency room, specialty clinic or delivery room. Some of these nurses even work in the community, making home visits and providing follow-up care for infants with serious health problems.

While the neonatal stage of an infant’s life is technically confined to the first month, an NNP can care for infants and toddlers up to two years of age if they have long-term health issues. NNPs work closely with the infants, their families and other healthcare providers. They are under the direct supervision of a neonatologist or neonatal fellow.

Read More: Learn About Being a Neonatal Nurse

What does a neonatal nurse practitioner do?

An NNP provides daily care to their patients. Though they are supervised, NNPs can make essential judgment calls regarding their patients’ care and may diagnose infants and initiate medical procedures. The primary duties of an NNP include:

  • Monitoring equipment such as ventilators and incubators

  • Educating parents and family members on proper care for the infant both in the hospital and upon the child’s return home

  • Ordering and performing laboratory and diagnostic tests, such as blood draws

  • Handling common procedures like intubation and starting IV lines

  • Maintaining IV lines and other equipment

  • Providing basic care such as feeding

  • Assessing vital signs

  • Developing treatment plants

  • Dispensing medications either independently or in a collaborative agreement with a physician

Average salary

Indeed doesn’t collect salary data specific to a neonatal nurse practitioner. However, the average nurse practitioner makes $110,948 a year, with salaries typically ranging from $43,000 to $209,000. Experience and education are key factors that impact an NP’s earnings.

Skills for a neonatal nurse practitioner

There are many critical skills that an NNP needs to do their job properly.

  • Communication: NNPs must communicate effectively with parents, families, physicians and other nurses. It’s crucial that they’re clear and understandable so others can easily understand and follow through on the nurse’s directions.

  • Compassion: Neonatal nursing puts caregivers in contact with extremely delicate patients and parents who are often exhausted, worried and confused. NNPs should have a deep compassion for these individuals and an empathic approach to what they’re dealing with.

  • Attention to detail: Treatment plans and medication administration must be precise with infants who are in neonatal care. NNPs must pay close attention to small details and habitually double- and triple-check their work.

  • Manual dexterity: Neonatal nurses handle extremely small equipment as they’re setting up intravenous lines, taking blood or using infant ventilators. They must have the dexterity to manipulate this equipment comfortably, even when dealing with an infant that may move unexpectedly.

  • Organization: NNPs typically handle several patients at once. They must be well-organized to keep up with each infant’s schedule and provide the proper care.

  • Ability to work under pressure: Neonatal care can be stressful, and NNPs are often called on to make critical decisions in a timely manner. They should be able to think clearly on the spot and quickly assess emergency situations to determine the best course of action.

  • Proficiency with medical technology: NNPs must work with a variety of technology including incubators, ventilators, transfusion equipment and intravenous controllers. an NNP should be comfortable and skilled with these devices.

Read More: Learn About Being a Nurse

How to become a neonatal nurse practitioner

The following steps will help you become a neonatal nurse practitioner.

  1. Get an undergraduate education in nursing

  2. Become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN)

  3. Practice in a neonatal environment

  4. Obtain a graduate degree in nursing

  5. Complete your Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC) certification

  6. Obtain state certification as an NNP

1. Get an undergraduate education in nursing

There are three ways that you can get an undergraduate education in nursing. You can pursue an associate degree at a community or junior college, a diploma degree at a hospital-based nursing school, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing from a college or university. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, you may be eligible for an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing that will take just one or two years to complete.

2. Become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN)

Upon completion of your bachelor’s degree, you can sit for the Nursing Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After passing the NCLEX-RN, you should obtain state licensure as an RN.

3. Practice in a neonatal environment

Most advanced degree programs with a specialty in neonatal care require at least three years of professional experience in a neonatal care environment. Seek employment as an RN in a neonatal setting.

4. Obtain a graduate degree in nursing

To become an advanced practice nurse, such as an NNP, you must have a master’s or doctoral degree. Your options include:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program that specializes in the neonatal population

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a neonatology concentration

If you’re not sure of your specialty as you’re attending school, you might get a generalist MSN and go back for a post master’s NNP certificate later.

5. Complete your Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC) certification

The National Certification Corporation offers NNP-BC certification to candidates with a current nursing license who have completed an accredited graduate nurse practitioner program that prepares neonatal nurse practitioners. You must sit for this exam within eight years of graduation from your graduate program. The test takes three hours and includes 175 multiple-choice questions. Just 150 of these questions are scored while the remaining 25 provide statistical data on performance. You must renew this certification every three years.

6. Obtain state certification as an NNP

Each state has its own requirements for certification as an NNP. Check with the state where you will be practicing to determine what you need to do to become certified.


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