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Neonatal Nurse Job Description

the neonatal nurse job description

Do you love working with young children and helping make them healthy and comfortable?

If so, a career as a neonatal nurse could be perfect for you. This role involves caring for infants that are suffering from medical complications.

You need to have specialist skills and training in order to do this job. While it can be very rewarding, working with sick children can also be challenging.

So, to find out if this is the perfect role for you, check out my in-depth…

neonatal nurse job description

Neonatal Nurse Job Description

The typical job description for this role will begin by providing an outline of the medical facility. It should describe the patients you will be working with and their general needs. It should outline the working conditions, including the typical schedule, the other medical practitioners, and the base salary.

The job description should also explain the types of tasks you would be expected to perform. There should be details of the education, licensing, and experience that candidates need to have. It is also likely to include details of the skills and attributes the perfect candidate should possess.

Read more: How to Become a Respiratory Therapist

Main Duties And Responsibilities

The duties you will have to complete each day will depend on your patients and where you are working. However, there are certain tasks you will probably have to perform on a regular basis. Here are some of the main duties and responsibilities you will need to master to do this job.

Performing physical and gestation age assessments

When you meet a new patient, you need to perform a fully comprehensive assessment of them. This includes assessing the patient’s physical and neuromuscular attributes. This will help you determine the best way to treat the patient.

Collaborating with other healthcare providers

You need to work closely with healthcare providers from a wide range of different medical disciplines. You need to be able to consult medical professionals to create a concise treatment plan for the patient. This helps to make sure that each patient receives optimal care.

Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic tests

You are likely to have to order, perform, and interpret different types of diagnostics tests to help form the treatment plan. It is necessary to have a deep and detailed knowledge of the different types of tests. You must also be able to analyze and interpret the results accurately.

Line placement

You need to be able to place peripheral, central, arterial, and umbilical lines in the correct positions. These lines will provide babies and infants with life-saving fluids, nutrition, and medicine. In some cases, the patient may be moving around when you are trying to place the lines.

Educating neonatal families

You need to make sure that parents understand their child’s condition clearly. In some cases, this may include explaining the condition in detail. You will need to explain the medication they have to give their child as well as any types of specialist care.

Educating colleagues

To become fully qualified, nurses receive a lot of on-the-job training. From time to time, you may be charged with training different nurses and other healthcare professionals. You will need to be able to explain different practices clearly.

Ensuring proper feeding

One of the biggest challenges for many new mothers is breastfeeding their baby. This can be especially challenging if the baby is sick and reluctant to eat. You need to supervise breastfeeding when necessary and help demonstrate different techniques.

Skills And Attributes

You need to have a lot of technical skills and knowledge to do this job. However, anyone who wants to work in the medical field also needs to have certain soft skills. Here are some of the key skills and attributes a successful neonatal nurse should possess.

Analytical skills

You need to be able to assess medical situations quickly and accurately. This includes determining when patients need respiratory support. You must also analyze different treatment options and be able to select the best methods for each patient.

Strong writing skills

You need to be able to write clear and detailed reports on your patients and update them regularly. Write instructions for parents to manage their child’s medication and care. It is important to make sure your reports are easy to understand and include all the relevant information.


Infants are likely to be scared when in the hospital, and it can take a while for them to trust you. It can be difficult to get infants to stop crying and let you administer treatment.


It is important to be able to relate to both your patients and their parents. Parents are likely to be scared and worried about their children, and you may not catch them at their best. Having compassion will help you overlook any rudeness that may come your way.

Organization skills

You are likely to have to care for many different patients on a regular basis. It is essential to keep all patient records separate and properly organized. You also need to create and stick to a comprehensive patient schedule.

Physical stamina

Most nurses need to work long shifts, and you will be standing most of the time. You will also be required to lift heavy objects such as medical equipment.

Specialized neonatal nursing skills

You need to have the skills to deal with emergency medical conditions. This includes advanced cardiac life support and neonatal resuscitation. You also need to have a range of transferable specialist neonatal nursing skills.

Education And Licensing

You need to complete a Bachelor’s Degree to do this job and gain your nursing license. It is a good idea to take courses in pediatrics and neonatology during the nursing program. Depending on where you work, you may also need to have experience working with infants or additional formal education.

Obtaining a Master’s of Science in Nursing with a focus on neonatal nursing will boost your career prospects. During this course, you will learn more about healthcare system basics, neonatal care, pediatric pharmacology, and fetus physiology.

The Working Environment

This role usually takes place in the intensive care unit or special care baby unit of a large hospital. In some cases, you may work with families whose babies have been discharged from hospital. Neonatal Nurses work closely with other types of nurses and healthcare professionals.

It is often necessary to make sure that babies and infants receive around-the-clock care. Therefore, you are likely to be required to work a range of different shift patterns. You may also need to be on call in case certain patients need urgent care.

Interested In Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation?

Firstly, why not take a look at alternative care positions such as my ICU Nurse Job Description and NICU Nurse Job Description, as well as my Care Coordinator Job Description, to see what options there are out there.

Next, if you’d like to try a career in massage and rehabilitation, check out my Massage Therapist Job Description, Occupational Therapist Job Description, and my Physical Therapy Technician Job Description for an in-depth description of what the positions entail.

If it sounds like something you’d want to do as a career, we found some amazing introductions and guides into the different types of Physical Therapy, such as an Introduction to Physical Therapy, or Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, and Neurologic Interventions for Physical Therapy, as well as Physical Rehabilitation, and The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair, and finally the Acute Care Handbook for Physical Therapistsa; which are ll available online in 2023.

But that’s not all; for further insight about the specializations, we have The Ultimate Guide to Pediatric Physical Therapy Documentation: For Student Physical Therapists and PTs, or even the Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy: From Art to Evidence, or how about Physical Therapy Documentation: From Examination to Outcome, For your studies, we recommend the NPTE Secrets Study Guide: NPTE Exam Review for the National Physical Therapy Examination, and the Acute Care Physical Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide.

If you’re still training as a physical therapist assistant, you’ll want to read up on Physical Therapy Assistant, or Therapeutic Exercise for Physical Therapy Assistants: Techniques for Intervention (Point, Physical Therapy Clinical Handbook for PTAs, and lastly, the Dreeben-Irimia’s Introduction to Physical Therapy Practice for Physical Therapist Assistants also available online today.

Final Thoughts

It can take a lot of time and dedication to qualify as a neonatal nurse. However, this career can also be very rewarding. The starting salary for entry-level candidates is typically around $50,000 per year.

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing will give you access to a higher salary and more responsibility. While studying for this degree, you will gain a lot of practical nursing experience. You can expect to earn around $80,000 per year after graduation, which climbs to more than $100,000 per year over time.

All the very best working as a Neonatal Nurse!

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