Nurse Practitioners Options and Specialties
As a nurse practitioner, you fall into a specialized nursing category, known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). Professionals in this category hold advanced degrees, usually a master’s or even a doctorate in the nursing field.
In contrast to earning your ASN, which takes up to 24 months, earning a doctorate in nursing can take up to nine years, with three years being the minimum.
A nurse practitioner is a specialized nurse who has earned their advanced (master’s or doctorate) nursing degree from a nursing school or university. If you plan to become an NP, you will be a licensed healthcare provider. In this profession, you must hold a license from your state to practice nursing in your chosen specialization, including nurses who wish to work in neonatal nursing or in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
You will work in a stressful, fast-paced environment, often in hospital settings where patient support will be your top priority. You may spend time working in an urgent care center to provide care to emergency patients. You will have to express compassion and empathy to your patients in any RN role, as they are hurting, feeling ill, and likely to be scared along with their families.
Nursing Degrees & Career Paths
Pediatric Nurse Specialists
Nurse specialists who work in pediatrics, as their title suggests, are specialists in delivering health care services to their pediatric patients. The main age range of children receiving care at this level goes from two-year-old babies up to their 18th birthday, throughout their years of development, based in a hospital or clinical setting. In their work in this position, these nurses may receive supervision or monitoring from a pediatric physician, much like other staff; however, this is not required everywhere, it depends on the current policy of your facility and state or community regulations, which can change often.
If you work in a doctor’s private practice, you may be providing primary healthcare to your pediatric patients. Working in this specialty, you may work in an emergency room, surgical theater, general hospital, pediatric oncology unit, neonatal unit, pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), or a pediatric oncology unit.
Neonatal Nurse Specialists
As a neonatal nurse specialist, you'll work with the sickest and smallest infants in the hospital from birth or delivery till they are ready to move to a pediatric unit. These newborn patients may be very premature, or they may have a health condition that requires specialized treatment. You'll be required to complete a degree at least at the master’s level and your professional focus is on the management and care of premature and full-term infants who are either critically ill or convalescent as they grow and regain full health. You'll also gain hours of experience on-site within a neonatal unit before you gain full licensure.
In your daily job, you will work side-by-side with neonatologists (medical doctors who specialize in working with this population). Neonatal nurses can expect to work in one of several acute and non-acute settings focused on the health of these tiny patients.