Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Roles

A NNP is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in the care and treatment of pre-term and full-term newborn infants through the first few years of their lives. The NNP manages high-risk infants in an intensive neonatal hospital setting independently and often in collaboration with a neonatologist or other specialist. Family-centered and development care are also focuses of a neonatal nurse practitioner. NNPs may also work in private practices outside of the acute care setting. NNPs are experts in neonatal care, provide advanced medical management and support to families during times of significant stress. Practitioners will work collaboratively with other health care providers in both acute and non-acute settings as they assess, diagnose and manage the health of newborns and infants.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary

The increased demand for advanced nurses means that neonatal nurse practitioner salaries are high, especially for experienced practitioners who work in private practice settings. ON average, salary for a neonatal nurse practitioner is $77,000.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Education

Curriculum and Core Classes

NNP programs are part of a master’s degree and will require that the RN have current, valid experience to be considered for admission to the program. In addition to having a current RN license, applicants must have proof of at least two years (or about 4,000 clock hours) of full-time experience with critically ill newborns in the last five years, with a minimum of one year (2,000 clock hours) of experience in a level III neonatal intensive care unit. These requirements will vary from school to school, but applicants can expect admission requirements to be stringent. Some institutions will allow RNs to take classes that do not require clinical time while they are gaining the necessary experience to move forward with the degree.

Neonatal nurse practitioner programs are offered across the country in both on-campus and online formats. Because many nurses are working full time while taking classes, many programs recognize the student’s need to work remotely and offer a mix of weekends on campus, phone conferences, online blackboards and clinicals in the nurse’s hometown to avoid the need for frequent travel to campus or relocation while in school.

Class credits will fall around 45 hours with 600 to 700 hours or more of clinical time to graduate. Course curriculum focuses on evidence-based learning approach and includes pharmacology, neonatology physiology, embryology, genetics, family dynamics and more. Classes are taught by physicians, established NNPs, respiratory therapists and other leading neonatal medical providers.

Upon graduation, students will be able to sit for the national certification exam offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC) and then work as entry-level providers. Many schools will post pass/fail rates on the NCC certification as it relates to their graduates and applicants may consider this data when applying to the school.

Program Length

Students who enroll in a full-time neonatal nurse practitioner education program can expect to graduate in approximately two years, depending on how quickly the clinical hours can be completed.

Depending on the program, associate degree nurses may apply without a BSN but should be prepared for at least two additional semesters of class time before starting NNP courses. While attending the program full time will lead to a shorter program length, it is not always possible for working RNs. As such, individual program length will vary according to a student’s personal circumstances and schedule. Part-time students can expect to spend about three years on their degree. Nurses who already hold a master’s degree may apply for a post-masters certificate program and will complete classes as determined by their university’s program administrators.

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