Neonatal Nursing Degree Programs
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNPs) are registered nurses with formal graduate education and supervised clinical experience in managing sick newborns and their families. The main aim of a neonatal nursing program is to prepare registered nurses to be leaders in neonatal care. On this page you’ll learn about the patients you care for and career information.
You can also take our Nursing Specialties Quiz to see if your personality is a good fit for working in neonatal nursing!
NNPs may manage a caseload of neonates/newborns with collaboration and supervision from pediatricians, but they’re trained to use their own judgment in assessing, diagnosing, and treating infants in ways that comply with individual state nurse practice laws. Their jobs are special because they consider the both the infant and the parents, since the babies can’t communicate and depend on their parents for survival.
NNPs fill an important role that improves the quality of care for patients. They communicate closely with parents and with other clinicians who are part of the healthcare team. In many cases they’re the common thread that connects the different clinical services – the thread that helps to create continuity-of-care for patients and families.
The Single Focus of Neonatal Nursing
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners focus solely on the care of neonates, who are often cared for in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) or nurseries. Many infants who end up in a NICU are premature, have suffered some trauma, or have a congenital birth abnormality.
NNPs can legally diagnose and treat many diseases and conditions. In addition, some NNPs direct and manage patient care from admission to discharge by collaborating with physicians and other members of the health care team to form a safety net around their patients. NNPs also may follow their patients into outpatient settings, which can help to ensure a smooth transition from one location to another. The exact structure of the NNP role can vary and depends strongly upon the agreement with physicians and other health care team members.
Career Mobility for Neonatal Nurses
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are focused solely on neonates and their parents, but that doesn’t mean they have limited career options. Most NNPs have some affiliation with a hospital neonatal intensive care unit, but some branch out and provide consulting services beyond the walls of hospitals. Some provide consulting and support services for families who care for premature infants at home after discharge. They may do this independently or through a home health agency.
Other NNPs may go into business for themselves or work in a specialized niche within industry, such as one that provides equipment or services for neonatal care. Some NNPs are writers who make complex health information easier for parents to understand. And most if not all NNPs teach and educate families and other healthcare providers about the complex needs of newborns and their families. In addition, NNPs may be involved in medical research as investigators, project managers, or team members providing research interventions to improve the healthcare for neonates of the future.
Spotlight on the University of California San Francisco
UCSF has been listed as a top school by US News and World Reports, ranking fourth in 2011. One of the ways UCSF sets itself apart as a top nursing school is by focusing on the increasingly important impact of health disparities in our world. Faculty members at UCSF seek to prepare NNPs to work with diverse, vulnerable, and underserved populations through both clinical and classroom exposures, so students are ready to face the challenges and dilemmas of modern healthcare when they graduate.
Listed below are all of the schools in the US offering accredited Neonatal Nursing degree programs.