How Long Does It Take to Become a Neonatal Nurse?

Your primary concern as a neonatal nurse is caring for newborns. This will be a responsibility that entails close supervision by physicians.

Nurses in this category usually work in hospitals and take active part in preventing infections, providing nutrition, treating and managing high-risk newborns.

Years it takes to be a neonatal nurse

It takes about 2 to 3 years to become a neonatal nurse, which is the time required to obtain your associates degree in nursing (ADN) and become a registered nurse.

Once you have your license and degree, you can work in an specialty unit in nursing.

A graduate of an ADN may proceed to obtain a license to practice the profession or opt to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which will take another 2 or 3 years.

Although you only need an ADN, you may consider finishing a bachelor’s degree, which will afford greater opportunities in your nursing career.

Rather than completing an associates degree, you could pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) straight from high school.

Before doing this, make sure you have passed the SAT or the ACT exam. The BSN will take around 4 years for a full time student to complete.

Take the licensure

After graduation, whether with the associate or bachelor’s degree, you will have to take the NCLEX to be state-licensed.

This is the required exam that grants RN licenses. States may require background check and/or education verification.

Inquire from your particular State Board of Nursing about their requirements and licensing agreements with other states.

Comply with continuing education requirements

Practicing nurses continue to learn and they earn hours of continuing education. These are also requisites for renewal of the RN licenses.

Optional: Obtain a master’s degree in nursing

You will need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree in Neonatal Nursing to become a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP).

Naturally, those who are RNs but completed only their ADN must return to school to complete their BSN.

Only after complying with the 2 requirements namely, an RN holder and BSN graduate, will a candidate be considered for MSN.

A master’s degree in nursing takes 2 years. Many schools grant this degree after the student has completed the Advanced Practice Neonatal Nursing Program.

Be certified

After completing the education requirements, you will need to pass the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Board Exam.

This exam is a requirement for you to be certified, and is required by all states.

When you are certified, it means that you have shown knowledge, expertise and skill in this particular nursing specialty. Certification is a requirement prior to licensing.

Be licensed

State requirements vary, but NNPs are generally required to obtain a license as Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

The general requirements for a license are: a master’s degree (MSN), a license as RN, a national certification as NNP, and continuing education units.

Skills you need to develop

Since you will be attending to newborns, you must have well-developed skills and abilities in the following areas:

  • Critical thinking
  • Attention to details
  • Patience and compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional stability
  • Ability to work with other professionals
  • Technological skills

Advanced skills and expertise provides opportunities for advancement, such as researcher, university educator, health care clinical manager, and other non-bedside roles.

What’s in it for me?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 8 babies are born preterm or premature every year, which indicates demand for this profession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics collectively looks at RNs of any specialty and reported a median annual salary of $65,000 in May 2012.

I hope this answers the question how long does it take to become a neonatal nurse?