The nurses who work with newborn babies and take care of the babies after birth are called neonatal nurses. Whether the baby is born healthy and with no problems or is born with an illness or early, the neonatal nurses are those that help the baby in his first days and sometimes first months of life.
“Neonatology” is the term used to describe the study of newborn babies. The “neo” portion of the term means “new” and the “natal” portion means baby. Like any other science, “-ology” means “the study of.” When used to describe a nurse, the term “neonatal nurse” means a nurse who works with newborn infants, or a baby nurse.
Types of Care
Neonatal nurses are specialized nurses who work with newborns in a wide range of situations. While the ideal baby is born healthy and without any problems, some babies are born premature or with health problems that are potentially life threatening. Neonatal nurses provide support to the doctor as necessary in a neonatal care facility and help take care of the baby’s needs such as cleaning, feeding and changing diapers.
The education for a neonatal nurse varies depending on the hospital and the type of nurse. There are nurse practitioners who work in neonatal care and have an extensive education and there are regular nurses who are given training on the job to work with the babies. In general, nurses will need at least a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree and must have the status of a registered nurse before they start working in neonatal care.
Levels of Neonatal Nurses
There are three basic levels of neonatal nurses with different job responsibilities and duties. Level 1 nurses work with healthy newborns in the nursery; Level 2 nurses work with infants in intermediate neonatal intensive care, such as premature but otherwise healthy babies; and Level 3 nurses work with babies who need constant monitoring and care due to sickness, health problems of various types or even serious injuries from birth.
Salary for a neonatal nurse is widely varied based on the location of the hospital, the nurse’s education level and the nurse’s experience. The website Nurse Crossing states that the average neonatal nurse at the start of a career can expect an annual salary of between $30,000 and $48,000 a year, but further education and gaining qualification as a nurse practitioner can bring a salary up as high as $190,000.