How Do You Become a Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal nurses earn their qualifications by studying at an accredited nursing school and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. They can then apply for jobs in hospitals with neonatal intensive care units to start their careers.

Neonatal nurses are nurses who work specifically with newborn infants born with complications or illnesses. These can include premature birth, infections, heart problems and birth defects. Some neonatal nurses also care for older babies suffering complications or infections from birth.

Neonatal nurses must study in a bachelor or associate degree program to become registered nurses and complete their certification after graduation. They do not usually require any specialized education, although some hospitals prefer some prior experience in the field.

Most neonatal nurses start their careers with jobs as staff nurses in neonatal intensive care units. They can work their way up to more advanced positions by taking certification tests or by going back to school to become neonatal nurse practitioners.

To become neonatal nurse practitioners, nurses must enroll in a master's or doctoral program in nursing. They must also take a state certification exam to become certified as a nurse practitioner. Neonatal nurse practitioners work with critically ill babies and often serve as team leaders to other nurses working in the hospital.