Learn About Being a Neonatal Nurse

What does a neonatal nurse do? – Neonatal nurses are the first responders to baby’s problems and emergencies. They work closely with other healthcare professionals to help these premature babies survive and thrive. Neonatal nurses play an essential role in providing quality care for premature infants and their families.

Neonatal nurses are the first line of defense when it comes to caring for premature and sick infants. They provide essential care during the early stages of life, which can be crucial for the baby and their mother. Neonatal nurses work under high pressure and often face unique challenges. To become a neonatal nurse, you need to have strong medical skills and be willing to put in the extra effort. You also need to be able to work independently and take on demanding hours.

What is Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal nurse is a term that’s used to describe someone who works during or after the first few days of a baby’s life. Neonatal nurses are typically young and fresh-faced, and they work closely with the parents and doctors to ensure the best possible care for their newborn infants. They may also be called upon to provide medical care during or after traumatic events such as childbirth.

Neonatal nurses are healthcare professionals who provide care to premature infants and neonates during their early stage of life. They are often called upon to provide emergency care in hospitals and health clinics. Neonatal nurses have a unique perspective on care, as they are the first people to meet and care for a baby during their earliest days. They work with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that premature babies receive the best possible care.

What does a neonatal nurse do?

A neonatal nurse is a health care professional who provides critical care to premature and full-term infants during the early stages of life. They are responsible for caring for the baby’s vital organs and the baby’s psychological well-being. A neonatal nurse is often called upon to provide emergency medical care, such as when a baby is born prematurely or has an infection.

  • Nursing assistant

  • Radiologic technologist

A neonatal nurse is a health care professional who focuses on the care of newborn infants during the first four weeks of their lives. These professionals may care for healthy infants or provide more focused care for newborns who are ill or premature. Neonatal nurses typically serve as the bridge between the specialist and parent when working with the newborn. Some of a neonatal nurse’s additional responsibilities may include:

  • Attending deliveries to assist the doctor and/or mother during the birthing process

  • Providing basic care to infants after birth by weighing and measuring infants, bathing them and monitoring their condition

  • Monitoring infants and providing specialized care after birth, including starting and maintaining IV lines, managing ventilators and assessing vital signs

  • Assisting doctors in the NICU with intensive care procedures using specialized equipment such as incubators, ventilators, surgery and other support equipment

  • Teaching new parents about caring for their newborn and helping mothers learn to breastfeed

Neonatal Nurse Salary

Do you want to be a Neonatal Nurse? It’s a career that offers many opportunities and a great salary. In fact, the average salary for a Neonatal Nurse is $64,000. The job market for Neonatal Nurses is expanding rapidly, and there are many programs that offer excellent pay and benefits. Plus, there are many hospitals in the United States that are looking for Neonatal Nurses.

Average salary

The average salary for neonatal nurses is often determined by the candidate’s level of education, experience, skills and specialties as well as the position’s specific job responsibilities. Your geographic location may also have an impact on your earning potential. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $1,159 per week

  • Salaries range from $600 to $3,400 per week.

Neonatal nurse requirements

Getting a job as a neonatal nurse involves certain requirements, which can vary depending on the position, employer and job responsibilities. However, some basic requirements are standard across the profession:


A neonatal nurse must be a registered nurse with a four-year Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. Some individuals will earn an associate degree in nursing and gain work experience before entering a bachelor’s degree program, while others go directly into a bachelor’s degree program. The BSN coursework includes classes in nutrition, critical care, physiology, health assessment and microbiology.

Though not required, individuals can continue their education after earning an undergraduate degree to become a nurse practitioner. This allows the individual to take on more responsibility while increasing their earning potential. To become a neonatal nurse practitioner, the individual must earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a focus on neonatal nursing. This program offers courses in neonatal care, pediatric pharmacology, healthcare system basics and fetus physiology.


After obtaining the BSN, individuals can gain clinical experience by completing a residency after graduation. These residencies typically take place in a fast-paced hospital setting, allowing new graduates to gain experience working in a NICU with newborn infants. A residency can be a great way to learn what it’s like to be a neonatal nurse while improving your chances of getting a job.

Some hospitals also offer externship programs where students can gain experience in a hospital setting even before they graduate. Though these programs place students in several specialties, it is possible that they would be able to work in the NICU during the externship.


Neonatal nurses are required to complete the Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This program uses a blended learning approach to teach the basics of neonatal resuscitation. It includes online tests and hands-on case-based simulations that focus on communication, critical leadership and teamwork skills.

Additional certifications may be required by the employer that can help applicants stand out when applying to jobs. The National Certification Corporation offers Low-Risk Neonatal Nursing and Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing certifications. These certifications require candidates to pass a test while also accumulating at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience working as a neonatal nurse. Applicants who want to specialize in Electronic Fetal Monitoring or Neonatal Pediatric Transport can also earn certifications in these sub-specialties.


Neonatal nurses need to have a variety of hard and soft skills to succeed in this role. Some of these skills are learned on the job, while others can be developed outside of the field. Here are some of the most relevant and important skills:


Neonatal nurses need to be able to communicate effectively with both staff and patients’ parents to provide adequate care for their newborn patients. These nurses need to be able to clearly communicate changes in patients’ conditions to ensure infants get the care they need. Neonatal nurses also have to explain to parents how to best care for their newborn infants, including any special care related to the patients’ conditions.

Attention to detail

These professionals need to be detail-oriented, as they are responsible for ensuring each patient gets the correct treatment and medications at the right time. Neonatal nurses’ attention to detail is also important when it comes to monitoring patients’ conditions as even the smallest change in status can be significant when it comes to ill newborns’ conditions.

Organizational skills

Neonatal nurses are often working with multiple patients that have different medical needs. For this reason, these professionals must be well-organized to ensure that each patient gets the care they need when they need it.

Critical thinking skills

Neonatal nurses need to be able to assess changes in the health status of their infant patients. This requires them to have critical thinking skills that allow them to make quick and accurate decisions about the infant’s health and treatment after monitoring and assessing the patient.


Since neonatal nurses are often working with very ill newborns, they must remain compassionate when interacting with parents. Neonatal nurses need to be caring and empathetic when speaking with parents about their child’s condition.

Neonatal nurse work environment

Neonatal nurses can work in clinics, community-based settings, hospitals or neonatal intensive care units. Most of these professionals work full time with the opportunity for overtime hours. Work hours will depend on the specific environment and may include night, weekend and holiday hours. Nursing is a physically demanding profession, and neonatal nurses spend much of their time walking, bending, stretching and standing. They will need to stay in good physical shape to help prevent any injuries.

How to become a neonatal nurse

Professionals can take different paths to become neonatal nurses. Here are some of the most common steps:

1. Obtain a high school diploma.

The first step in becoming a neonatal nurse is earning your high school diploma. If your high school offers courses or programs for those who are interested in a medical career, these can help prepare you for the BSN program. If not, courses in science, math and communications can provide a solid foundation for a college nursing program.

2. Earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Whether you have already earned an associate degree in nursing or you are joining a BSN program right out of high school, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing to become a neonatal nurse. These programs offer general nursing courses in physiology, nutrition and critical care. If available, take a course that focuses on neonatal nursing. Also, look for externship opportunities that allow you to gain experience working in a hospital before you graduate.

3. Get neonatal certifications.

Every neonatal nurse has to have the Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification from the American Academy of Pediatrics before getting a job as a neonatal nurse. If you want to specialize within the field, become a more competitive candidate for neonatal nurse positions or excel in your career, you might also consider getting additional certifications.

4. Gain clinical experience in a hospital setting.

After you have graduated and earned the NRP certification, look for opportunities to gain clinical experience in a hospital setting. This can be through a residency that allows you to gain hands-on experience in a NICU. If you don’t have access to a residency program, you may want to work as a nurse in another capacity to gain experience before applying to neonatal nursing positions.

5. Prepare your resume.

After you have earned your degree and certifications, it’s time to apply for neonatal nursing positions. Before you apply, you’ll need to make sure that your resume is up-to-date with your relevant education, experience and volunteer work. Be sure to use keywords and language that align with the requirements of the job.

Neonatal nurse job description example

Williamson Health Care is searching for a compassionate, detail-oriented and hardworking registered neonatal nurse to join our team in our neonatal intensive care unit. Our ideal candidate is a strong leader and clear communicator who is both caring and efficient. The neonatal nurse is responsible for providing direct nursing care following our established policies, procedures and protocols. Additional responsibilities include assessing, planning and evaluating patient care needs; monitoring vital signs; carrying out physician orders during rounds and throughout your shift; caring for patients requiring newborn care including feeding, IV, medications and respiratory care; administering prescribed medications and performing additional tasks as needed.

Candidates are required to be graduates of an accredited school of professional nursing with licensure as a registered nurse in the state of Washington. Candidates are also required to have current NRP certification along with at least three years of experience in a level 2 or level 3 NICU.

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