How to become a Neonatal Nurse, written by Auya Rose.


Neonatal nursing is a specialized nursing practice caring for newborn infants up to 28 days subsequent to birth. Neonatal nursing consists of three levels. Level 1 is the caring for healthy newborns, Level 2 caring for either premature or ill newborns, and Level 3 caring for newborns who cannot be treated in the other levels and are in need of high technology to survive. It is a neonatal nurse's choice in which level she/he chooses to work in.
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This field is one that requires a lot of diligence and teamwork. For you work closely with parents, neonatologists and other nurse specialists. You may find yourself working in clinics, community-based settings, hospitals or neonatal intensive care units. You may also conduct research, act as consultants or provide education to both staff and family members. General duties for a neonatal nurse include regular changes, feedings and cuddles. Often, the NICU will assign each baby "care times" throughout the day and night, usually about 3 or 4 hours apart. At each care time, the nurse will fulfill her duties (those listed above). If a baby is receiving any medications, these may also be distributed during these times. If the parents of an infant are able to visit regularly, a neonatal nurse will teach them how to perform these basic cares. The duties for a neonatal nurse also include inserting and changing IVs, administering blood transfusions when necessary, and drawing blood for various testing. A neonatal nurse is not only there for the infants but for the families. They often become the saving grace to worried parents, who have plenty of questions and few answers, and give the earliest of lives a fighting chance. Their daily duties add up to countless miracles and a rewarding career at the same time.
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After completing high school one must become a RN (registered nurse) with a 4-year bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN). One must also be certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and/or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing. It is sometimes required to complete a minimum number of years of clinical experience in a hospital setting. Listed are a few schools to jump start one's career; Rush University, Columbia University, & University of Pennsylvania, just to name a few.

In 2007, the starting salary for a neonatal nurse was between $30,000 and $45,000. If one has gained more experience can expect between $30,000 and $50,000. Becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner ( which requires a Masters of Science in Nursing ) can typically make you $20,000 more per year.

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Becoming a neonatal nurse is tagged along with a lot of work and dedication but in the end it seems to all pay off. You not only get to care and help little ones but you are impacting and changing not only the infants life but also the families of such. Being a neonatal nurse exposes you to everyday lessons and gives you a sense that you are serving your community.


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Neonatal nursing background