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How to become a neonatal nurse?

Neonatal nurses provide care to new-born babies who have been born premature or who require special treatment for illness. Find out more about the role of neonatal nurses and how to train to become a nurse in this field.

The role of the neonatal nurse

Main functions
Neonatal nurses help to monitor treatment and manage the symptoms of disease in new-born babies. They also play a role in supporting the parents of a new-born: they provide them with information on their baby’s condition and encourage them to play an active role in caring for their premature or sick baby. Collaboration
Neonatal nurses work within specialist neonatal care units, typically based inside of maternity units or paediatric units in hospital settings. They may also work out of community clinics. These nurses work alongside a larger healthcare team which may be made up of paediatric doctors, specialist surgeons, and other nurses.

The skills required for neonatal nursing

Team work
Neonatal nurses must understand the importance of working as part of a wider healthcare team. They must demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills and show an interest in the working with new-born babies. Resourcefulness
They must understand the physiological and psychological requirements of a new-born and be able to effectively meet these needs using the resources available to them.
Willingness to keep up with technology
Neonatal nurses should be able to use current medical technology and show willing to learn about new technology used in this field. Empathy
Neonatal nurses must be able to empathise with the parents and relatives of new-born babies.

Entry requirements for neonatal training

To become a neonatal nurse, it is essential to pass Registered Nurse Education. This may be in adult nursing or children’s nursing fields. Registered midwives can also work as neonatal nurses. Work experience
A registered nurse must undertake at least six months’ worth of relevant experience before being encouraged to study continuing professional development courses that allow them to work in neonatal nursing. Children’s nurses may spend time working on the children’s general medicine ward of a hospital before training in this specialist area.

Training as a neonatal nurse

Professional training
Professional development neonatal nursing education programmes will teach registered nurses and midwives all they need to know about working in this field.
Education programmes
These may be delivered by the healthcare trusts themselves or through higher education institutions. Distance learning programmes may also be available.
If working within the NHS, nurses may be eligible for financial support during their training. Future careers and specialisations
Experienced neonatal nurses may progress to become consultant neonatal nurses, nurse managers in neonatal units, and neonatal research specialists.

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