Masters in Nursing Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Generally advanced practice nurses who have specialized in neonatal care are working with babies that are having serious health problems. Healthy newborns spend some hours or perhaps a day in a neonatal unit and then head for home. Infants that are born prematurely or with some sort of health issue often land in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where they are treated as critical care cases because their health may be somewhat fragile when they are only hours old. Even healthy babies can quickly pick up a virus or infection in a compromised environment. So the nurse practitioner that has specialized in neonatal care usually is working with babies in an acute care environment. The role of a nurse practitioner in a NICU is often managerial in scope.
A Masters in Nursing for Neonatal Nurse Practitioner is sometimes considered a subspecialty for pediatric nurse practitioner students and is treated as an additional academic endeavor in the form of a certificate. Other MSN programs offer the degree as a specialty of its own. In either case there will be a requirement for substantial clinical hours because of the special treatments and equipment used with newborns. Some schools of nursing require applicants to this program to have at least a year's experience working in pediatrics or infant care. Nurses who enter this program with a bachelor's degree in nursing are still going to be involved in a full two years' academic program to complete the class work and the clinical hours.
The curriculum for this degree includes classes on how to work with the new parents of an infant that is under critical care. One of the responsibilities of a nurse practitioner in almost any environment is providing the education and reassurance to family members that traditionally have come from physicians. Classes in helping parents understand the condition of their newborn are mixed with classes on the skills associated with treating a neonate. This is also one medical field where a nurse practitioner will need to have agile hands in order to work with miniaturized respiratory support units, monitoring equipment, intravenous systems, and feeding processes. Working with newborns in a clinical setting requires concentration and precision, but can also be a highly rewarding career.