If you want to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as a NICU nurse, you need to understand the required credentials. As a NICU nurse, you care for premature and ill newborns who require immediate medical attention to breathe and eat. NICU nurses monitor the baby, administer medications to newborns, record progress, comfort babies in distress and help to educate new mothers on how to care for their newborn once they are discharged. While it is possible to work in the NICU without being classified as a specialist, taking the time to get certified can help you land a position quickly. Read on, and find out how your BSN can help you become a specialist in neonatal intensive care.
Take an Elective Course in Neonatal Nursing
You may assume that you need an advanced degree to work in neonatal nursing, but this is not the case. Just like you need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to become a Registered Nurse, you need a BSN to earn your certification to work in the NICU. The key difference is in the elective courses taken during the course of your degree program. Rather than taking the most convenient or the most in-demand elective courses, you will need to take one or more elective course in neonatal nursing as you earn your Bachelor’s degree. By completing these electives, you will have the knowledge and credits needed to later sit for a certification exam.
What Will the Elective Course Teach You?
When planning to attend a general nursing program, it is important to research what types of specialization are offered to students through elective courses. Some nursing schools offer more elective opportunities than others, and choosing a school with neonatal-specific class options is very important. In these elective classes, you will learn how to work in nurseries and intensive care units. You will also learn newborn diagnosis and newborn physiology, which is important when you are pursuing a specific career in the NICU.
How to Earn Your Certification
To be credentialed as a NICU nurse, you will need to earn a certification through the National Certification Corporation. To sit for the exam, you are required to possess a minimum of a BSN and be licensed as a registered nurse. You will also need to meet experience requirements in a clinical setting for 24 months in the specialty to be eligible for a credential that will last a period of 3 years. Once the 3 year period is up, you can recertify by showing that you have completed continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on technologies and trends.
There is a growing need for certified and licensed health care nurses who are highly trained and skilled in caring for newborns who are critically ill and need special attention. By earning your Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, you can start the process of entering into the field of neonatal nursing. Make sure to complete elective courses focused in neonatal nursing, earn your Registered Nurse license, and get work experience in the neonatal area. All of this will set you up to be certified as a NICU nurse.