NNP - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Nurse.org Staff

What Does A Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Do?

A neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced practice training and skills.  NNPs in this specialty work with infants with a variety of problems.  The most common, according to the National Association of Neonatal Nurses , are birth defects, premature birth, cardiac malformations, surgical issues, and infection.  While the neonatal period is technically an infant’s first month, many NNPs care for infants with long-term health issues up to the age of 2.  NNPs are under the direction of a neonatologist or a neonatal fellow.  However, they usually have total responsibility for their small charges when it comes diagnosis and initiating the appropriate medical procedures.

What Are The Job Roles For A NNP?

The setting where a NNP works determines the duties performed.  Most facilities have three care levels:

  • Level 1:  Newborn nursery care is appropriate for full-term, healthy babies.  The need for an NNP is limited.
  • Level 2:  The intermediate care nursery provides constant care for infants who are sick or born prematurely.
  • Level 3:  A neonatal intensive care nursery (NICU) has seriously ill infants who need constant monitoring due to critical health problems.

In general, however, NNPs have five important roles, according to GraduateNursingEDU.org :

  • Monitor special equipment like ventilators and incubators
  • Educate and support patients' families
  • Dispense medication pursuant to a collaborative agreement with a doctor
  • Perform diagnostic tests and order laboratory tests
  • Ensure correct feeding and basic care

Job Characteristics

  • Work is medically challenging.
  • Job requires significant in-person family contact.
  • Responsibilities are usually multifaceted.
  • Work requires considerable independent judgment.
  • Duties can be emotionally draining.

What Education & Certification Is Needed For A NNP?

Those who are interested in the NNP path must first obtain an RN designation.  They can complete a two- or four-year degree in nursing or a hospital nursing program.  Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is necessary for licensing in the state of choice.  While completing clinical experience, typically in a NICU, an RN should complete a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) with a neonatal specialization.  Some nurses opt to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree.  For nurses with an MSN in another area, a post-master’s certificate is often available.  Once they have completed educational and experience requirements, RNs can sit for the NNP certification examination.

What Are The Degree Requirements For A NNP?

To be eligible to apply for NNP certification, candidates must have at least an MSN.  Many programs are available online.  Some schools offer options for RNs without a prior BSN to enter an MSN program.

Among top choices of schools are these, according to Nurse Practitioner Schools :

What Certification Is Needed For A NNP?

The National Certification Corporation administers the NNP certification program.  Eligibility for the exam includes having a current RN license and being a graduate of an accredited, graduate-level nurse practitioner program.  Candidates must take the exam within eight years of graduation, according to Nurse Practitioner Schools .  Certification renewal is necessary every three years.  The American Association of Nurse Practitioners lists certification requirements by state.

What Are the CEU Requirements As A NNP?

NNPs should check state requirements for continuing education units.  In addition, maintaining NNP certification requires verifying completed continuing education.

Where Can I Work As A NNP?

  • Hospitals
  • Birthing centers
  • Military facilities
  • Home care

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript, womansday.com, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

Nurse.org Staff


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