December 16, 2015

NNP - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Jobs

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 :

  • 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,, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

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