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What Does a Neonatal Nurse Do


young female neonatal nurse holding a newborn

Nurses are among the most important jobs in the world. They are the face of healthcare to the average patient, and they are in charge of performing all the necessary tasks that help get us back to health. Even within the nursing field, though, there are superstars. One of those is the neonatal nurse. Since they often work in the intensive care unit for newborns, these nurses are also referred to as NICU nurses.

If you are thinking about becoming a neonatal nurse, Exam Edge has you covered. Below, we'll lay out the responsibilities you will have and provide you with information on how to become a NICU nurse.

What Neonatal Nurses Do

"Neonatal" refers to the first month of life. Nurses who specialize in helping infants in this age range often deal with care for maladies like premature birth, infections, heart problems, and birth defects. Even though the term refers to the first month, neonatal nurses often continue to care for these infants for several months, sometimes even up to two years.

Importantly, NICU neonatal nurses care for infants with severe issues, so the workload can be somewhat brutal. Care for afflicted infants requires round-the-clock supervision, work throughout holidays and weekends, and shifts between 10 and 12 hours.

You may perform home visits, work in the NICU, do shifts in the nursery, and more. Follow-up care is sometimes required in the community for high-risk cases. So that's what a neonatal nurse is: a hero who provides much-needed care for some of the most vulnerable population.

The Pathway to Becoming a NICU Neonatal Nurse

The first step in becoming a NICU nurse is to get the proper education. You'll need to become a registered nurse through an accredited nursing school, getting your BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) degree.

Some NICU programs, depending on the hospital in which you want to work, may require additional experience in infant care. This can include shifts in a well-newborn nursery or in a pediatric department.

Also, if you plan to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), it's best to work in a NICU that is designated level III. Experience in these NICUs looks very good on graduate school applications, as they care for the most at-risk and intensive newborns. Or, you might consider working as a low-risk neonatal nurse at first, allowing you to get experience caring for babies with less care-intensive issues.

Neonatal Nurse Certification

Another step you can take to advance your career is to get certification as a neonatal nurse. Certifications help you show potential employers and patients that you have the knowledge, skills, and experience to provide exceptional care.

The National Certification Corporation is the organization that provides certification tests for nurses. You can select different certification exams to take, depending on what you want to add to your resume. For example, the Obstetrics and Neonatal Quality and Safety exam is a subspecialty that focuses on safety procedures for performing neonatal care.

Nursing certification tests typically cost hundreds of dollars to take, and they last for a few years before requiring recertification. However, recertification does not mean you have to take the exam again. Instead, you have to prove that you have received a certain number of continuing education credits.

Preparing for Neonatal Nurse Certification Exams

Given the high price of certifications, as well as the stress that exams can cause many of us, preparation is key. You don't want to pay to take the test and end up failing and having to pay to take it all over again!

The best form of exam prep is simple: practice exams. As a leader in online test preparation, Exam Edge offers practice exams with numerous benefits. Since our practice tests have the same style of questions and subject matter, they act as good measuring sticks for your ability to pass the real deal.

Our exams also allow you to simulate the testing environment, with timed versions available. This way, you get used to the pacing before you have to take the actual certification test. Or, you can take the practice test untimed. Either way, we provide in-depth explanations of any questions you miss, so you can understand exactly where you went wrong and what you need to study more.

If you are planning to become a NICU neonatal nurse, try out some of our practice exams before taking your certification test. You can also visit our blog and peruse some of the many other career tips and study tricks we offer.