A Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, or NNP, is an RN, or registered nurse, that has a formal graduate education and has supervised clinical experience for the management of sick newborns and families. The aim of the neonatal nursing program will be to prepare the registered nurses for a leading role in neonatal care. An NNP may manage a number of cases of neonates/newborns while collaborating with a supervising pediatrician, but they are also trained to use their best judgement while diagnosing, assessing, and treating infants in a number of ways that fully comply with all of the individual state nurse practicing laws. The jobs are special, as they take both the infant and parents into consideration because the babies are unable to communicate, depending solely on their parents to survive.
An NNP plays a vital role for improving the quality of patient care. They will communicate closely with the parent and clinicians that are part of the team. In many instances, they will be a common thread connecting different clinical services, which helps with creation of continuity of care for both the patient and family.
An NNP will focus solely on caring for neonates, often cared for in a NICU, or neonatal intensive care unit, or nursery. Many of the infants that end up in the NICU will be premature, have some sort of congenital birth abnormality, or some sort of trauma.
The NNP can legally diagnose and treat a variety of conditions and diseases. Additionally, some of the NNPs will direct and mange the patient care all the way from admission to discharge by working closely with physicians and the other members of the team to form a strong safety net around the patient. They may also follow the patients all the way through into outpatient setting, where they can help with a smooth transition from one location to the next. The NNP role structure is one that can vary a great deal and depends upon the agreement with them and the physicians and the other members of the health care team.
A Neonatal Nurse Practitioner will focus on neonates and their parents, but that will not mean they have limited options in their career. Many NNPs will have affiliations with the neonatal intensive care unit at a hospital, but some will branch out to offer consulting services outside of the hospital setting. Some offer both consulting and support for families that care for their premature infants when they go home after being discharged. They may do this either independently or with a home health agency.
Other NNPs could go into business by themselves or work in a kind of specialized niche inside the industry, much like on that provides services or equipment for neonatal care. Some NNPs will be writers that will make the intricate healthcare information much easier for the parents of the patients to understand. Most, if not all NNPs, will teach and educate the families and other healthcare providers on the complex needs a newborn has, as well as their families. Additionally, NNPs could be involved with medical research as investigators, associates, or project managers for the research and improvement of healthcare for all neonates in the future.