About 400,000 low-birth-weight infants are born in this country every year. Their survival rates have been improving steadily, thanks to great strides in neonatal treatment and the high-quality care provided by physicians and nurses.
Neonatal nurses use both high-tech care and high-touch caring to help infants and their families. The care they provide is respectful, adaptive to change, and accountable for outcomes. The newborns they care for have problems ranging from prematurity and infection to birth defects, cardiac malformations, and postsurgical complications. Generally, neonatal nurses care for infants from birth until time of discharge; occasionally their patients are as old as age 2.
Neonatal nurses integrate parents and other family members into the critical care they provide in the hospital, teaching them how to care for their infants both before and after discharge. It’s extremely rewarding for neonatal nurses to watch even the smallest and sickest babies stabilize, grow, and ultimately go home with their families.
Most neonatal nurses work in hospitals in Level II or III nurseries, although some work in the community providing follow-up home care for high-risk infants. With advanced experience and education, a neonatal nurse may become a neonatal nurse practitioner, nurse manager, nurse educator, clinical nurse specialist, or developmental care specialist.
NANN: The professional voice of neonatal nursing
Both new and experienced neonatal nurses can grow professionally by joining the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN), an ANA organizational affiliate, or its newly created division, the National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NANNP). NANN and NANNP provide valuable resources to their 7,400-plus members, including an annual conference and a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal, Advances in Neonatal Care, to help them stay abreast of current information and standards in neonatal nursing.
NANN’s mission is to provide the professional voice that shapes neonatal nursing through excellence in practice, education, research, and professional development. To learn more about NANN or NANNP, visit http://www.nann.org or call 800-451-3795.