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Neonatal Nurse Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: September 27, 2023

A Neonatal Nurse, or Neonatal Care Nurse, is responsible for caring for premature, injured or ill newborns to promote their health and livelihood. Their duties include monitoring a newborn’s vitals, administering IVs and performing tasks like changing diapers.

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Neonatal Nurse duties and responsibilities

A Neonatal Nurse works in a fast-paced and high-stress environment. Some of the main duties and responsibilities of this position include: 

  • Provide care for infants immediately after birth
  • Oversee the care of infant patients in the NICU
  • Troubleshoot and maintain NICU equipment
  • Consult with parents/guardians on aftercare and long-term health management for infants
  • Educate new parents on basic infant care including breastfeeding, hygiene and safety
  • Perform tests ordered by the obstetrician or nurse practitioner and evaluate the results
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Neonatal Nurse Job Description Examples

What does a Neonatal Nurse do?

Neonatal Nurses typically work for hospitals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to provide advanced medical care to premature or fragile infants. They work closely with other Neonatal Nurses and Physicians to ensure that infants receive the care they need to improve in health and go home to their families. Their job is to assess newborns right after their birth, participate in potentially life-saving procedures and operate medical equipment like a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to help newborns breathe.

They may also interact directly with parents and other loved ones to discuss their newborn’s progress and care methods.

Neonatal Nurse skills and qualifications

A strong candidate for the Neonatal Nurse position with our company should possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • Current RN license
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRR) certification
  • Familiarity with NICU equipment
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to lift and carry 50+ lbs

Neonatal Nurse salary expectations

A Neonatal Nurse makes an average of $1,833 per week and $13,000 per year in overtime pay. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Neonatal Nurse education and training requirements

Since Neonatal Nurses are Registered Nurses, they need at least an associate degree. However, most hospitals and clinics now require all nurses to have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to be considered for Neonatal Nurse positions.

In addition to the degree, Neonatal Nurses need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to become licensed to work as a nurse. They should have a current nursing license in your state. There are a few neonatal nursing certifications available including the CCRN, ACCNS-N, and the NCC. While none are required beyond a state nursing license, any of these additional certifications would be a strong asset in a candidate for a Neonatal Nurse position.

Neonatal Nurse experience requirements

For entry-level Neonatal Nurses, no prior experience is really necessary since they get clinical training in nursing programs. Senior Neonatal Nurses need at least five years of previous experience. Related experience as a Nurse Assistant or a military background as a Medic would also be valuable.

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Frequently asked questions about Neonatal Nurses

What is the difference between a Neonatal Nurse and a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)?

Although Neonatal Nurses and Neonatal Nurse Practitioners both administer specialized care to infants in the NICU, they have different qualifications, affecting seniority and their scope of job responsibilities. For example. Neonatal Nurses typically receive either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing before passing the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing examination. In contrast, Neonatal Nurse Practitioners usually earn a master’s degree to work as a Nurse Practitioner before passing the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner certification course.

Because of their differences in education, Neonatal Nurse Practitioners have more seniority and perform advanced care procedures with Physicians. They also have the authority to diagnose conditions and order lab tests for their patients.

What are the daily duties of a Neonatal Nurse?

On a typical day, a Neonatal Nurse talks with medical professionals in the NICU before receiving their patient assignments for their shift. They are usually responsible for watching over two to four infants in the nursery and continuously monitor their vitals. Neonatal Nurses start by reviewing their patients’ files to determine their conditions, prescribed medications and care needs. They record their patients’ vital signs every few hours and record medications and dosages administered. Throughout their shift, they insert IVs, change diapers and monitor the newborns’ body temperatures. They also use the swaddling technique to help regulate a newborns’ temperature.

What qualities make a good Neonatal Nurse?

A good Neonatal Nurse has a passion for helping others, especially newborn babies with complex medical needs. They thrive in a group setting and communicate well with other medical professionals to administer patient care. Neonatal Nurses should be able to remain calm in pressure-filled situations to perform life-saving treatment on newborns. Because Neonatal Nurses often see newborns in critical conditions and may experience infant deaths, it is important that they understand how to cope with those situations outside of their work-life. This includes practicing self-care, attending therapy or talking to coworkers and loved ones for support.

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