How to Become a Neonatal Nurse

Many nursing students determine that they want to work with infants, but they don’t necessarily know how to become a Neonatal Nurse. The role of a Neonatal Nurse is to work with infants, usually within the first month of their lives. They may record medical information and observations, administer treatments and carry out care plans. They also consult with doctors to determine the best course of action for each patient. They may help doctors perform diagnostic tests and teach parents how to care for their infants and special conditions, if necessary. Many of the infants neonatal nurses work with were born premature or with birth defects. These nurses may work around the clock to care for infants up to two years of age.

Skills and Interests

Those who intend to become Neonatal Nurses must be interested in caring for babies and helping new parents who may be afraid. Neonatal nurses must also have strong communication skills. They must be able to explain complex procedures and diagnoses to those who may not understand medical terminology. This career path also requires strong critical thinking skills because nursing requires people to work quickly without cracking under intense pressure and stress. It is also a requirement that neonatal nurses are compassionate, sympathetic and caring toward patients.


The specific education and training required for a neonatal nurse may vary from institution to institution. Neonatal Nurses are all registered nurses (RNs) so they must have either an Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a nursing license. Many neonatal nurses, however, continue on to achieve Master of Science degrees in the field of nursing. Some institutions might require neonatal nurses to have additional qualifications as perform the same duties a midwife would be able to do. In addition, some institutions will require that neonatal nurses have experience working with adults before they begin working with infants. Neonatal nurses are often required to have supervised experience working in a hospital setting before completing their programs. It is also a good idea to have a certification in neonatal resuscitation. Nurses may find that taking courses in nursing, anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry is helpful.

Working Conditions

The working conditions for the typical neonatal nurse are similar to those of a registered nurse. Most neonatal nurses work in hospitals and community centers, though some travel to homes. That does not mean the work of a nurse is simple, however. Nurses may be required to help lift and move patients and their equipment. It is also a requirement for any registered nurse to come into close contact with diseases, many of which are contagious. In order to stay healthy, nurses must abide by very strict regulations. Neonatal Nurses work varying schedules, which may include rotating shifts, nights, weekends, holidays and on-call hours. Most of the people in this field work full-time and the demand for Neonatal Nurses is increasing. Once students learn how rewarding the work is, they are excited that they know how to become a neonatal nurse.

Featured Degree Programs