Neonatal nursing can be a great career option for those who love infants and consider it a pleasure to work for them. The neonatal nurses work for three different levels - in the first level, they take care of healthy born babies after childbirth, in the second level they cater to the needs of the ill newborns or those who have had a premature birth and in the third level, they work for the newborns with problems which cannot be treated or cured in the earlier two levels. You can choose the level in which you wish to work as a neonatal nurse, as per your inclinations and capacities.
Nature of Job
The job description of a neonatal nurse mainly consists of their vital contribution in dealing with cases wherein newborn babies have serious problems like respiratory disorders and low weight at birth. These nurses also guide and solve all the queries of the parents of the newborns related to child health and well-being. A neonatal nurse has to adapt and act quickly to tackle the difficult situations and have good communication skills and presence of mind which are useful for conveying the right information related to health issues.
Primary care and fulfilling special needs, technical duties, providing emotional support and levels of duties are the highlights of the job. Let us discuss them one after the other.
Taking Primary Care of the Newborn Infants
Taking primary or general care of the newborns is an important task for the neonatal nurses. Babies with physical problems or ailments need a lot of care, and special efforts need to be taken for their feeding. As per the hospital rules and guidelines, the neonatal nurse does tasks such as taking the baby's temperature, changing the baby's diaper, feeding it milk, giving medicines at the right time in right quantities as prescribed by the doctors. Many times, the parents of the newborns learn to take care of the basic needs and requirements of the baby from the neonatal nurses.
Neonatal nurses are known to help in the task of feeding the babies by the means of a gavage tube at a time when they are too small. The ups and downs in the health conditions of the baby are closely monitored, and quick decisions are taken to save it from any kind of disorders. Blood testing, doing the job of blood transfusion, and inserting IV's and changing them at the right time are also some major functions in the job.
Levels of Duties
As discussed earlier, level one neonatal nurses look after the babies who are fully fit and healthy after birth whereas the level two and three neonatal nurses are employed for the intermediate and intensive care of the baby. The level one duty nurses see babies in the wards of the nursery and at the place where their mother is in the hospital. The level two nurses check the health of the babies and feed them. Administering IV's, and supplying oxygen at times of need, are tasks that are also included in the job. The nurses working in level three or the intensive care units do the tasks like ensuring proper use of incubators, ventilators and feeding tubes.
The Technical Aspects
Now, coming to the technical aspects of the job of a neonatal nurses, these nurses, many times, do the task of keeping a record of the health details of all the baby patients which prove to be very useful for doctors and other nurses to view the changes and arrive at conclusions fast. Most of the time, this information is stored online for quick note. Contacting the parents of the baby in times of emergency and sending e-mails to the NICU doctors or the neonatologists is also included in the job profile of a neonatal nurse.
Providing Emotional or Mental Support
During their serving time, the neonatal nurses come in contact with the parents of the newborns and give them emotional support, especially at times when the need arises for surgeries. Informing the parents about their child's health complications and assuring them of better results can be included in the neonatal nurse job profile.
A bachelor's degree in nursing along with 1 year's experience in working in the neonatal ICU is an essential criteria to become a neonatal nurse. The students of nursing can become RN after they clear the licensing exam which is scheduled after graduation. You can definitely become a neonatal nurse practitioner after you work as an RN in the neonatal ICU. Many nurses apply for a masters program in nursing in a reputed nursing school for in-depth knowledge of the field. The neonatal resuscitation provider certification is very essential to work as a neonatal nurse.
Neonatal nursing is a noble as well as a well-paying profession for interested candidates and the statistics reveal that the average salary of a neonatal nurse practitioner is around US $84,000. So, try your best for this career. All the best!