What is a Neonatal Nurse?
A neonatal nurse is a registered nurse. He/she may have an associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degree, and/or a diploma from a hospital-based school of nursing. Neonatal nurses may also be certified in their area of specialty.
Neonatal nurses provide different levels of care to babies ranging from healthy newborns and sick or premature babies to babies who have serious birth defects, severe illnesses or other critical, life-threatening problems.
Neonatal nursing generally involves care for newly-born infants in crisis, but may additionally encompass neonates who suffer from long-term problems related to being born early, or from some severe illness encountered soon after birth. Some neonatal nurses may even care for babies up to about 2 years of age. However, most care for infants from birth until they are well enough to be discharged from the hospital.
Each healthcare institution may establish its own practice standards for neonatal nurses, but most expect the nurse to be always on the alert and capable of rapidly responding to any incident or status change that may cause harm to the neonate, such as temperature fluctuations, skin discoloration, or excess/inadequate oxygen supply. Additional care responsibilities may include:
- management of intravenous lines
- medication administration
- newborn CPR
- neonatal resuscitation
- using feeding tubes, incubators, ventilators, and transfusion equipment
Some babies may have severe respiratory problems. Others may need a tracheostomy, or require a tube to be inserted through the chest wall to keep their lungs expanded. The neonatal nurse must be competent to manage all of these situations, at a minimum.
CAE Luna: Baby simulator for tracheostomy care