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Neonatal nurses work with newborns and infants in a neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU). Requirements typically include a bachelor's degree in nursing, a nursing license and neonatal resuscitation program (NRP) certification.
Because hospitals operate 24 hours a day and 365 days per year, employees are typically required to work nights, holidays and weekends.
More recently, hospitals have offered nurses more flexible shifts to maintain a 40 hour work week and allow more personal time. Work shifts can include five days working eight hours per day, or four days working 10 hours per day.
Hospitals are required to maintain a specified number of nursing staff members on each work shift, which includes a required nursing staff in a neonatal unit. Although flexible schedules may be offered, at times neonatal nurses may be required to work certain shifts to maintain the required number of nursing staff.
Neonatal units are categorized in levels I, II and III, with level III being the most severe. Several hospitals in the United States have units that have been categorized as level IV, which treats the most severe neonatal patients.
Neonatal Working Hours
Neonatal nurses typically work 40 hours per week. Overtime may be required due to the severity of the patients they treat and the inability to leave patients' unattended. Nurse coverage is a priority in neonatal units, so long working hours will be infrequent.