Neonatal Nursing: Job Description, Training & Career Prospects

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Neonatal nursing is a specialist nursing stream. Professionals who are trained in neonatal nursing care for new-born babies who are born premature and require special attention over the first few days of birth or babies who are born with some ailment or disease that requires intensive care. Trained neonatal nurses generally work in maternity or children’s hospitals within specialised neonatal units.

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There are numerous health conditions that babies can be born with and which require specialised treatment from experts within the multi –specialty healthcare team.

Babies born prematurely can have multiple health problems such as premature lungs that cause respiratory difficulties or a premature digestive or renal system that can cause numerous other problems. Some of these can be life threatening without the prompt and appropriate care by the specialist team. Also, the nutritional needs of premature babies will require specialist care.

The neonatal nurse also has the vital role of offering advice and support to the parents of the baby and answering all of their questions honestly at a time when they are very anxious and stressed.

Entry Requirements For Neonatal Nursing

If you would like to work as a neonatal nurse, you will first need to be qualified as a registered adult nurse, children’s nurse or a midwife. After you’ve completed a minimum of 6 months of relevant on the job training, you will need to enrol in a continuing professional development program that focuses on neonatal nursing.

Necessary Neonatal Nursing Skills

As a neonatal nurse, you will need to have all of the skills that are necessary for a general nurse. In addition, you will be required to have a few specialist skills including:

  • A thorough understanding of the physiological as well as psychological needs of a new-born baby
  • A genuine interest in caring for new born babies
  • An empathetic understanding towards the parents and other family members of the new born baby in your care
  • An extremely high level of competence and proficiency required to work in a highly technical area such as neonatal care demands
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills
  • The ability to think on your feet when dealing with emergencies
  • The ability to work with a team of multidisciplinary specialists

Training

Neonatal nursing training is part of a continuing professional development programme. A neonatal nursing course normally comprises of a range of modules, each of which focuses on a different aspect of neonatal nursing.

These programmes are usually delivered in partnership with local health care trusts or higher education institutions. There are also several programmes available online, giving the opportunity for distance learning.

Funding For Training

Every healthcare trust will typically have a continuing professional development budget that is kept aside especially to offer financial support for professionals keen on specialising in any particular stream, including neonatal nursing.

Career Prospects For Neonatal Nurses

With an ongoing shortage of nurses, neonatal nurses are always in demand in the many healthcare establishments across the UK. In addition, there are also multiple routes for neonatal nurses to further their careers, including opportunities in research, advanced practice, management, education and as consultant nurses.

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