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Neonatal nursing is a branch of nursing that requires good knowledge of nursing of newborn babies, high alertness and tender care. A neonatal nurse takes care of the newborns in hospitals or nursing homes. All babies require some or other kind of care which a mother is not competent or may not be in a position to provide immediately after delivery. However, any lapse in this care at the time of birth, could pose a dangerous health risk to a newborn. Neonatal nursing is a specialized branch of registered nursing.
A neonatal nurse works under the guidance and instructions of a neonatologist. There are a number of crucial duties the neonatal nurse has to perform. This could make a huge difference to the health of the newborn baby. A neonatal nurse may have to:
1) Take care of babies in the first 28 days of their lives. This is a very vulnerable period of a newborn baby’s life and demands constant attention. A small lapse could complicate condition of the baby or prove to be fatal. Neonatal nurses have to be totally alert through-out their duty period.
2) Have to take care of pre mature babies, infants with health problems and normal healthy newborns.
3) Provide preventive and acute care to newborns.
4) Check and monitor babies constantly.
5) Ensure that newborns are fed in time.
6) Administer medicine in time and as per correct dosage. Administer oxygen or IV fluid if it is required.
7) Operate incubators and ventilators wherever required.
8) Whenever there is any sign of distress they have to take the best course of action on their own if they have been trained to for that.
9) Act as per the advice of the neonatal practitioner or neonatologist when they do not know what to do.
Knowledge and skills:
1) Must be very alert to attend to newborn babies. Any cry or sign of discomfort should be attended immediately.
2) Must be able to think and act quickly whenever required.
3) Always think clearly and decide what the best course of action is.
4) Remain calm under pressure and do the best.
5) Ability to work in shifts and yet maintain the same level of high alertness through out the shift.
Educational Qualification and Experience:
1) Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing of 4 years duration, which would qualify them to work as registered nurse. An associated degree in nursing (AND) or diploma is nursing may also make them eligible. The famous licensing program known as National Council Licensure Examination – NCLEX-RN is a must for all registered nurses. Neonatal nurses have to obtain NCLEX-RN license. For neonatal specialization they must get additional certification in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing or Neonatal Resuscitation. Additionally, another three years of clinical experience is required to apply as a neonatal nurse.
2) Candidates must have certification from the state nursing board as well as the national nursing board – National Certificate Corporation.
Salaries and Benefits:
1) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic the median wages of a registered neonatal nurse was $62,450 in 2008.
2) A neonatal nurse is eligible for all standard benefits as fixed by their employing organization.