A Neonatal Nurse provides care for newborn babies that are in need of specialized care within the first twenty-eight days of life. Neo means new and that window from birth to day twenty-eight, definitely qualifies as a new life. This nurse can work in any nursery, but the typical well-baby nurseries seem to be less used because the parents have their babies with them and they are typically discharged much sooner than in years past. The next nursery level is an intermediate care nursery. These are for babies that may have been born prematurely or suffer from an illness or even a birth defect. The children who stay here for some time may need IV medicine, oxygen or perhaps some special feedings. A baby might just need a bit more time to be strong enough to go home with her parents. But, if babies are critically ill or present more medical needs than the babies in an intermediate care nursery, there is an ICU or intensive care unit for these infants. This specialized nursery is equipped with even more equipment than an intermediate care nursery, such as ventilators and it is possible that the infants here will need or will have already had some type of surgery, possibly in the first few hours or days of life.
In order to become a neonatal nurse you must first graduate from an accredited nursing school as a Registered Nurse. Once you are finished with your training, you can begin to pinpoint where you would like to work. If you choose to work with infants or in a neonatal nursery, then you should make sure to pass any state exams and possibly gaining experience with either the adult population or in a neonatal nursery. This can help you to get a job in the hospital that you wish. Having experience in any part of the hospital helps you to hone your skills and to get an idea of the units that you are most interested in working. The neonatal nurse salary, for an entry level position, can range from thirty-thousand to forty-eight thousand dollars. The salary rate can depend largely on the area of the country that you live in and the size of the hospital that hires you. The median or middle salary is nearly fifty-two thousand, so there is a good wage increase once you gain some experience.
If you wish to get more training right away or down the road, you can attend a graduate program that specializes in neonatal nursing and you can become a neonatal nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist. A Master of Science in Nursing or an MSN or even a doctoral degree is required to become a neonatal nurse practitioner and generally you would need to have at best two years of experience as a nurse and some time in a NICU, or a nursery intensive care unit. Of course with the extra degrees and expertise, a nurse practitioner will be paid more than a neonatal nurse salary.
A neonatal nurse works with a very special population of patients, brand new infants. These tiny patients can have some giant medical problems. These infants definitely need specialized care like IV medications or ventilators or life-saving surgery. Their parents and families need to know that there are compassionate professionals that are providing that amazing care for them. What a wonderful feeling to know that when an infant is discharged from the hospital to go home with their families you had a part in the healing and recovery process. The tiniest patients sometimes make the biggest gains.