Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Can I Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?

An advanced nurse practitioner is a nurse that has received specialized training in a certain area. One type of specialized nurses is those that work in the neonatal department, the neonatal nurse practitioner.
Aspiring nurses study a wide variety of subjects in school, from human anatomy to pharmacology, from maternal and child health to psychology. After their four-year education in the classroom, they are required to take and pass an examination to be a registered nurse. It is after this point that you may decide to take additional steps to become an advanced nurse practitioner in a specific area.
If you feel that you want to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, there are certain prerequisites that you need to meet. Firstly, you should be a registered nurse, meaning you should have finished your bachelor's degree in nursing and have received your nursing certification. In the United States, you need to have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). In Canada, you need to have written and passed the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination. Secondly, you need to have experience working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Some neonatal nurse practitioner programs require you to have 2 years of clinical experience in the neonatal intensive care unit, while some post-graduate programs require 1 year of experience. It is also required that you pursue a masters in nursing, specifically a degree in master of science in nursing, or a doctoral degree to become a doctor of nursing practice.
A neonatal nurse practitioner may work in a level 1 nursery or a neonatal intensive care unit. A nursery is where healthy newborn babies are taken care of. On the other hand, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is where newborn babies that are born with need for special care are given the extra amount of attention that they need, using specialized equipment. Patients inside the neonatal intensive care unit include babies that are born prematurely, newborns that are in respiratory distress and need intensive supervision, etc. Other examples are babies that have compromised immune and circulatory functions, who require the use of advanced medical equipment and care from highly skilled nurses to pull through. Also, babies born with congenital anomalies have different needs than healthy babies and are therefore also placed in the neonatal intensive care unit.
A neonatal nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has undergone 2 years of post-graduate education and training and supervised clinical experience in the clinical setting. With the right assessment and judgment, a neonatal nurse practitioner may function independently in certain procedures.
A neonatal nurse practitioner's functions include inserting and securing intravenous lines, taking care of babies in incubators, performing lumbar punctures, resuscitating newborns, giving additional education to the members of the neonatal team, being a part of a medical research and involving in consultations with doctors and parents. As a neonatal nurse practitioner, you do not just care for the newborn, but also need to communicate with the babies' families by informing them of their babies' conditions as well as provide them with encouragement and support to allow them to better cope and understand what is going on with their newborn. This kind of work can be physically and emotionally draining, as taking care of delicate newborns with physical problems can be hard work, and not all of them will live. However, seeing babies that improve and grow strong enough to go home with their parents can be hugely satisfying, and make all the effort worth it.
Due to the high education requirements and the great demand placed on their shoulders when they work, neonatal nurse practitioners are compensated well and receive higher salaries compared to those in other nursing fields. Their annual salary may range from $39,078 to $113,714. Although a dollar sign can be attached to their salary, the work that they do is priceless.
The College of Nursing at the University of Florida offers online neonatal nurse practitioner programs. They offer online training materials and lessons for post-master study. This program will enable you to study online from your own home. However, you will still be required to attend examinations in person, and acquire your clinical experience in their hospitals to get hands on experience as a neonatal nurse practitioner. What's good about being enrolled in this school is that they have highly experienced faculty to teach the learning materials, and modern facilities and resources where you can get practical work experience. With this experience, you will acquire the knowledge and skills you need to provide adequate care to newborns that are acutely ill.
In the upcoming decade, the demands for nurses are predicted to increase by 22 percent. The job outlook for neonatal nurse practitioner is also good. An NNP may work in clinics, hospitals, nurseries or neonatal intensive care units. They can also work outside the clinical settings as an instructor, a researcher or a consultant.

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