What is Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?

In these times where population balloons rapidly, health care centers and hospitals find ways to meet the demands of nurse practitioners especially in the field of neonatal care. People would ask, what is a Neonatal nurse practitioner? How do they differ from a regular nurse who works in a hospital?

Neonatal nurse practitioner is a special kind of nurse who focuses on the care and well-being of a new born child. Neonatal practitioners deal with new born babies until 28 days of life. This is the time where life is very crucial, thus, constant monitoring especially on their vital signs is very important. With the surge of newborn defects and diseases, the need for a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner is essential in every hospital and birthing clinics.

What is included in a Neonatal nurse practitioner job description?

They are more focused on the care of premature and newborns with functional defects like respiratory distress and congenital heart deficiencies. Majority of these nurse practitioners can be found at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), handling sophisticated machines such as incubators and respirators; and constantly collaborating with neonatologists about the condition of every patient. They can also be found in advanced clinics side by side with a neonatologist.

They are capable of assessing the diagnosis and can order medical and laboratory procedures bounded by law. But still, they need neonatologists’ decision in complicated cases. They are not only concerned with the primary care of neonatal but also giving health education to members of the family, especially the mother, regarding family planning like birth control, nutrition and infant care.

The scope of work of a Neonatal Nurse depends on the state where he/she is practicing the profession. They are bound with codes of conduct which varies from state to state. There are procedures that a nurse can perform in a particular state but cannot perform on the other.

There are different levels used to categorize Neonatal nurse practitioner job description:

  • Level 1 – In this level, we can consider the care given to a normal new born infant. In this kind of job, the Neonatal nurse practitioner provides health education to the mother about breastfeeding, newborn care, nutrition and healthy lifestyle.
  • Level 2 – This is for premature newborns who have premature organ functions. They are constantly monitored until such time the organs of the body functions naturally without the aid of any machine and their medical condition is reported to a neonatologist or a pediatrician.
  • Level 3 – This level is the most crucial part of the job of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. In this level neonates are on their critical condition. They need more advanced care because chances of complications are in the highest level. This requires constant assessment and monitoring.

How to become a Neonatal nurse practitioner

If you are a nurse practitioner who loves to care for newborn infants, you can specialize in Neonatal Nursing care. What are the things to be considered to become one?


When thinking of how to become a Neonatal nurse practitioner, you must earn the Registered Nurse (RN) license with a BSN degree. Having a Master’s degree in Nursing or acquiring advanced practice can help you to become one. However, you won’t be successful in this field if you don’t have the passion in caring. As they say, nursing is a vocation not a profession.

Work experience

You must have a vast work experience in a hospital especially in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). No theories can be right if there is no proper experience in a certain job. As others say, practice makes perfect and it is in this light that work experience is the number one requirement. Or else, you wouldn’t become proficient in every field that you tread on.


Every nurse has to pass a qualifying exam and this will become the basis for their acceptance in their field of work. If you have some aspirations and come across a situation wherein you ask yourself how to become a Neonatal nurse practitioner, without a doubt, you have to pass all qualifying examinations that are required for the job as a regular nurse cannot be such if there is no special knowledge of the Neonatal nurse practitioner job description.

Qualities of a Neonatal nurse practitioner: Let it shine

A person with good communication skills is very important in all aspects of caring for the newborn. Critical thinking and analysis are two of the qualities of a Neonatal nurse practitioner that can help you become an effective professional in this field. You must also add empathy as a virtue as it can help you understand how patients feel towards treatment or behavior.

You should always put yourself into the shoes of others so that you will be able to feel what they are experiencing. You should know where they are coming from and the consequences that had lead them into the situation. Your decision should not dwell solely on emotions but on the humane condition they are in. Other qualities of a Neonatal nurse practitioner can be summed up for the things that they do for their patients that are not listed in their scope of work.

Gratis et amore is what you call the thing in Latin; meaning, they can give service out of love and this is the best gift that they can offer to their patients.

Job outlook for a Neonatal nurse practitioner

It is not so hard to work in this field if you are equipped with the knowledge, experience and a battery of certifications to boot as the job outlook for a Neonatal nurse practitioner is immense. Qualifying tests that are given by different organizations or countries that are in need of your services would just come as easy as pie.

Maybe, at this point, you are better prepared to undergo a series of tests that you will surely pass with flying colors. There are many countries that are in need of your services given that you have the qualities that are inherent of such professional worker.

Let your credentials speak for you as it would be seen like it was heard from your own mouth. A qualified applicant will always be shortlisted when it comes to application process. The job outlook of a Neonatal nurse practitioner is brighter than you think it is.

The challenges that Neonatal nurse practitioners face

There are many challenges that Neonatal nurse practitioners face in their daily lives but these do not deter them from continuing to do their work diligently. They may encounter a lot of experiences that one can consider as bad or not worth it, but still, they go on and work to death just to make some improvements in the lives of their patients who are expecting more than just a mere expectation.

If you are one of them, you must be one machine that would continue working even if there is no longer fuel that could ignite you to continue on your job. This is one of the things that patients are looking for in a service-oriented professional.

Challenges that Neonatal nurse practitioners face are not just ordinary ones but complicated situations where they would always stand on the ground to defend against. Maybe, a nurse was trained to be like this, or is it in the service towards people that make their lives worth living?

The rewards that a Neonatal nurse practitioner gets   

Talking about the rewards that a Neonatal nurse practitioner gets, it is but plain satisfaction in what they do. The kind of service that would make people happy is what they are after. So, if you think that this best fits you, you are up for a life that is full of empathy and service.

The rewards that a Neonatal nurse practitioner get is plain acceptance and acknowledgment from the people that they do service with and they never expect anything in return. For them, to give service is good and to see improvements that were brought about by their service is better.

Looking back and summing up the challenges that Neonatal nurse practitioners face, the rewards they would get, and the experience that they possess would make them work not only for their own benefit but with the patients that they would handle in the process.

See also Lab values nursing

It is good to know that people in this profession have become so serious in managing the job to the extent of putting themselves into the situation. The future looks brighter ahead as the demand for this type of nurses are rising as days pass by and the reason for this is clear: The need for these professionals are huge as the cases have gone up drastically.

Different countries are now in search for the best practitioners who can handle their requirement in the most subtle but sure way. It would boil down to one thing though, and people would ask why there is an upsurge of neonatal ailments and disease when we are at an age where technology almost runs every little thing.

Does this mean that machines still cannot take the place of humans?