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How to Become a Neonatal Nurse

As you embark on your journey how to become a neonatal nurse, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. It is crucial to have a comprehensive guide that will assist you every step of the way. That’s where this article comes in.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about becoming a neonatal nurse. We will discuss the education and certification requirements, necessary skills and qualities, and job outlook and salary expectations. Additionally, we’ll provide practical advice on how to prepare for and succeed in this rewarding career.

We recommend taking notes and using the provided resources to support your learning journey. This guide is designed to help neonatal nurses. It is suitable for those who are just starting out or already working in the field. It will help you learn and improve your skills.

What Is Neonatal Nursing

Neonatal nursing focuses on the specialized care of newborn infants, particularly those born prematurely or with health complications. Their responsibilities include monitoring vital signs, prescribing medication, assisting with nutrition and hydration, and providing support during medical interventions.They cover ranging from prematurity, birth defects, infection, cardiac malformations, and surgical problems

A neonatal nurse can make around $71,497 per year on average. However, the salary may vary due to factors such as location and experience.

Neonatal nurses take care of newborn babies while pediatric nurses take care of children up to 18 years old. Neonatal nurses work in special units where they help very sick or premature babies. Pediatric nurses work in different places like hospitals, clinics, and schools where they help children with many kinds of health problems.

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse

Becoming a neonatal nurse involves caring for the smallest and most fragile members of our society. It is a challenging yet highly rewarding career path that requires specialized knowledge, skills, and certifications. Let’s dig in more about how to become a neonatal nurse.

Understanding the Path

Becoming a neonatal nurse requires dedication and hard work.

You need to start by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After working as a staff nurse for a while, those who want to become neonatal nurses can get more education. One option is to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, which provides training on caring for newborns. This can be achieved by returning to school.

Neonatal nurses are responsible for caring for newborn infants who require specialized medical attention. They work in a variety of settings, including neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), delivery rooms, and postpartum units. Neonatal nurses have an important job of taking care of newborn babies. They watch over the baby, give medicine, and food, and help families during a challenging time.

Many neonatal nurses choose to advance their careers by becoming nurse practitioners (NPs) specializing in neonatal care. This advanced practice nursing role allows NPs to diagnose and treat common health problems, prescribe medications, and order diagnostic tests. Furthermore, Nurse Practitioners enjoy increased autonomy and can assume greater accountability in providing patient care, making it an immensely fulfilling profession.

While neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are a type of APRN, there are several other APRN roles to consider. These include family nurse practitioners (FNPs), adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs), and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs). Each APRN role has its own unique focus and requires different types of education and certification. It’s important to carefully research each APRN role to determine which one aligns with your interests and career goals.

Education and Training

To become a neonatal nurse, you must first complete the education and training requirements. Here are the steps you can take to achieve this goal:

Research and Choose an Accredited Nursing Program
In order to pursue a career as a neonatal nurse, it is necessary to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited nursing school. It is recommended to search for a program that has been endorsed by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Complete the Required Coursework
While studying nursing, you will learn about science and healthcare topics like body parts, medicine, and caring for patients. It’s a good idea to get good grades and join nursing groups or volunteer at a hospital so you can learn more and get more experience.

Gain Clinical Experience
Your nursing program will also include clinical rotations in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. Doing rotations is really important because you get to practice what you learned in class and work with real patients.

Explore Neonatal Nursing Programs
Once you have completed your BSN degree and gained some experience as a registered nurse, you can explore neonatal nursing programs or courses offered by universities or hospitals. These programs will provide you with the specialized knowledge and skills needed to care for newborn infants.

Enroll in a Neonatal Nursing Program
Enroll in a neonatal nursing program to acquire specialized knowledge and skills in neonatal care. These programs can be offered at the master’s or doctorate level and might take 2 to 4 years to complete.

Participate in Clinical Practicums or Internships
During your neonatal nursing program, you will have the opportunity to participate in clinical practicums or internships in neonatal units. This will allow you to gain hands-on experience and develop the skills needed to care for critically ill newborns.

Licensure and Certification

After completing your education and training, the next step is to obtain licensure and certification. Here’s how you can achieve this goal:

Prepare for the Exam: To become a registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Utilize study resources and practice tests to prepare for the exam and ensure that you meet the minimum passing score requirements.

Register for the NCLEX-RN: To register for the NCLEX-RN, you must apply through the licensing board in the state where you intend to work as a nurse. This requires submitting an application and paying a registration fee.

Take the Exam: To obtain your nursing license, you will need to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam at an authorized testing center and pass the minimum score requirement.

Research Certification Bodies: Research and identify the relevant certification bodies, such as the National Certification Corporation (NCC), that offer neonatal nursing certification.

Meet Eligibility Criteria: Typically, meeting the criteria for the neonatal nursing certification exam requires a specific level of education and clinical experience.

Prepare for the Exam: Prepare for the certification exam by studying relevant materials and taking practice tests. Utilize study resources and review the exam content outline to ensure that you are well-prepared.

Apply for the Exam: In order to become certified in neonatal nursing, you must submit an application and pay the certification authority’s fee.

Successfully Pass the Exam: Take the certification exam and successfully pass it to become a certified neonatal nurse. This credential demonstrates your specialized knowledge and skills in neonatal care and can enhance your career prospects and earning potential.

Professional Development and Experience

Research hospitals or medical facilities with neonatal units is an essential first step in advancing your career in neonatal nursing. These units provide care for critically ill newborns and have special requirements for their nursing staff. Conducting thorough research will help you to identify which facilities align with your career goals and aspirations.

Once you’ve identified potential workplaces, it’s time to prepare a well-crafted resume and cover letter that clearly highlights your relevant skills and experiences. This is your opportunity to make a great first impression and stand out from other candidates. Focus on showcasing your expertise in neonatal nursing, as well as any specialized training or certifications you have obtained.

After preparing your application materials, you can start applying for neonatal nursing positions and attending interviews. This stage is crucial for demonstrating your knowledge and passion for the field. Be prepared to answer questions about your experience, education, and approach to caring for critically ill newborns.

Staying updated with the latest advancements in neonatal nursing is also important for professional development. Joining professional organizations, attending conferences, and participating in workshops are great ways to keep up-to-date with new developments and best practices in the field.

Pursuing advanced degrees, such as a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) specializing in neonatal nursing, can further enhance your expertise and open up new opportunities for career advancement. This degree program provides specialized training in neonatal nursing and can lead to leadership roles in neonatal care.

Finally, consider becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner for further career advancement. This role involves providing advanced care to critically ill newborns, including diagnosing and treating their medical conditions. It requires additional education and certification but can be a rewarding and challenging career path for those passionate about neonatal nursing.

Manage Emergency Room Nursing Jobs & Start a Career

If you’re interested in working in a fast-paced and challenging environment, a career in emergency room nursing may be the right choice for you. To land an emergency room nursing job, you’ll need to have a strong foundation in nursing fundamentals, as well as specialized training in emergency care.

To begin your search for emergency room nursing jobs, start by exploring job boards and hospital websites. Look for positions that match your experience level and skillset, and be sure to read the job descriptions carefully to ensure that you meet all of the stated requirements.

Once you’ve identified potential job opportunities, it’s time to apply. Here are some tips on how to apply and some interview tips that might help you:


  • Review all of the materials provided before the exam, including study guides and practice tests.
  • Study relevant nursing topics, such as patient care and safety, and medical terms.
  • Practice your test-taking skills, including time management, reading comprehension, and answering multiple-choice questions.
  • If you’re feeling anxious or unsure about any aspect of the exam, don’t hesitate to reach out to the hiring manager for clarity.


  • Research the hospital or medical facility beforehand, including their mission, values, and specialties.
  • Practice common interview questions, such as “Why do you want to work in this field?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • Dress professionally and arrive early to the interview.
  • Use effective communication skills, such as active listening and clear, concise speech.
  • Be prepared to discuss your relevant skills and experiences, as well as your approach to patient care.

Always remember that exams and interviews provide a space to exhibit your nursing expertise and knowledge. By dedicating time and effort to preparing for these events, you can enhance your chance of success and attain the nursing job you have been aspiring for.

Moreover, some common reasons why people fail to get emergency room nursing jobs include lack of experience, insufficient training, poor communication skills, and lack of professionalism. To avoid these pitfalls, be sure to invest in ongoing education and training, practice effective communication skills, and present yourself professionally at all times.

One resource for finding helpful resources is through Total Nursing Network (TNN). We provide access to a variety of nursing job opportunities, including emergency room nursing positions. Additionally, we offer a range of resources to help nurses succeed in their careers, including training programs, certification courses, and networking events.

Final Thoughts

To become an emergency room nurse, you need to have a good understanding of basic nursing and specialized emergency care. You can start by searching for job openings on hospital websites and job boards. Then, apply with a resume and cover letter that shows your skills and experience related to the emergency room. We hope these tips will help you on your journey on how to become a neonatal nurse!

Also, Total Nursing Network (TNN) is helpful because we have many benefits such as different nursing jobs available, including ones in the emergency room. We also provide training programs, certification courses, and networking events to help nurses succeed in their careers. TNN offers support and guidance during the job search process and connects nurses with potential employers.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is neonatal nursing?

Neonatal nursing is a specialized field of nursing that focuses on the care of infants, specifically those who are sick or premature.

2. What are the responsibilities of a neonatal nurse?

A neonatal nurse has many duties such as checking important signs, giving medicine and food, teaching parents how to take care of their baby’s development, and working with other healthcare workers to make sure every newborn gets the best care possible.

3. What skills are important for a neonatal nurse?

To be a neonatal nurse, it’s important to have good skills in communication, thinking critically, paying attention to details, being caring and understanding, having energy, and being able to work well in a fast and stressful place.

4. What is the difference between neonatal nursing and pediatric nursing?

Neonatal nursing focuses on the care of newborn infants, typically those who are sick or premature, while pediatric nursing focuses on the care of children and adolescents up to age 18.

5. What education do i need to become a neonatal nurse?

To become a neonatal nurse, you must first earn a nursing degree (either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree) and obtain a registered nurse (RN) license. From there, you can pursue additional education and training in neonatal nursing through specialized programs or certifications. Some employers may also require previous experience in pediatric or neonatal nursing.

6. Are there any specialized certifications for neonatal nursing?

Yes, there are several specialized certifications for neonatal nursing, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC) certification offered by the National Certification Corporation and the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics. These certifications demonstrate a nurse’s expertise and dedication to providing excellent care to newborn infants.

7. What are the common courses in a neonatal nursing program?

Common courses in a neonatal nursing program may include neonatal physiology and pathophysiology, pharmacology for newborns, high-risk neonatal care, developmental care, family-centered care, and ethics in neonatal nursing. Students may also participate in clinical rotations or internships to gain hands-on experience working with newborn infants in a healthcare setting.

8. How long does it take to become a neonatal nurse?

The time it takes to become a neonatal nurse varies depending on one’s level of education and career goals. Typically, it takes 2-4 years to complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, and another 1-2 years of experience working as a registered nurse (RN) before pursuing additional education and training in neonatal nursing. Certification programs for neonatal nursing may take several months to a year to complete. Overall, the process of becoming a neonatal nurse may take between 3-6 years or longer.

9. What types of clinical experience are necessary for neonatal nursing?

To be a neonatal nurse, it’s very important to practice working with real babies and their families in a hospital or clinic. You can get this kind of experience by working in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), newborn nurseries, or other special places for babies.

Some programs also let you work with risky newborn patients or practice advanced skills like restarting baby breathing or managing ventilators on simulated babies. Additionally, many employers require previous experience in pediatric or neonatal nursing before hiring for a neonatal nursing position.

10. How can one gain clinical experience in neonatal care?

There are several ways to gain clinical experience in neonatal care, including:

Clinical rotations or internships: Many nursing programs let students work in neonatal intensive care units and other special places for newborns. This lets you practice working with babies and their families under the guidance of experienced healthcare professionals.

Volunteer work: Volunteering at a hospital or clinic that provides neonatal care can also provide valuable experience. Some hospitals have programs where you can volunteer to help with newborn babies, or you can volunteer in other parts of the hospital to see what it’s like to work in healthcare.

Continuing education courses: Taking continuing education courses in neonatal nursing can also help to build clinical experience.

Work experience as a registered nurse (RN): Lots of jobs want you to have experience with babies before they hire you as a neonatal nurse. Working as a registered nurse in a pediatric or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can give you useful experience and help you make a good resume for a job as a neonatal nurse later on.