Neonatal Nurse Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Neonatal Nurse, or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner cares for newborn babies in hospitals or birthing centres. Their duties include monitoring babies’ weights, administering medication and managing patient symptoms. 


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Neonatal Nurse duties and responsibilities

Neonatal Nurses have a range of duties which can depend on the setting in which they are working but their typically tasks include:

  • Liaising with Specialists to ensure that each patient’s care plan meets their specific needs and is communicated clearly to the team
  • Monitoring patients’ vital signs and other activity
  • Attending births 
  • Performing checks on newborns including Apgar tests, measuring them and watching for a range of symptoms and congenital conditions
  • Documenting patients’ treatment and any observations made
  • Operating and maintaining specialist equipment in the NICU or HDU
  • Helping parents to care for their baby, offering advice on feeding and sleeping and signposting further sources of information
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of best practice in neonatal care and treatment


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What does a Neonatal Nurse do?

Neonatal Nurses are responsible for caring for infants that need treatment and sharing information about the baby’s condition with the parents. They record details of the baby’s treatment, keep records of their fluid intake and deliver various therapies and diagnostic tests. They also perform a range of lifesaving treatments in emergency situations, including resuscitation and defibrillation. Neonatal Nurses can work in special care baby units (SCBU), Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU), High Dependency Units (HDU) and on other specialist wards. They work with specialists from a range of disciplines including Midwives, Dietitians and Paediatricians. 


Neonatal Nurse skills and qualifications

A successful Neonatal Nurse candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications, that typically include:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to work well within a team
  • The ability to maintain a calm and professional approach towards patients at all times
  • Clinical and diagnostic skills
  • The ability to multitask and prioritise effectively, even in stressful situations
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • The flexibility to adapt to changes quickly and efficiently
  • Resilience and ability to work in emotionally volatile conditions


Neonatal Nurse experience requirements

Neonatal Nurses usually have experience of nursing in a range of settings and typically need at least some experience of working in the NICU. They need to be able to use equipment such as ventilators, feeding pumps, incubators and other monitoring equipment. Neonatal Nurses may be required to have experience of working with newborns and their families to ensure that they understand any particular care needs or treatments that parents might have to manage at home. Depending on their responsibilities, Neonatal Nurses may need experience in specific areas such as breastfeeding, birth injuries or neonatal intubation.


Neonatal Nurse education and training requirements

Neonatal Nurses need to have a degree in nursing or equivalent, which covers all the practical clinical skills required and a range of theory and research. Some complete their degree through a nursing apprenticeship and others start as Nursing Associates and then add to their skills in order to qualify as a Nurse. 

Neonatal Nurses also need to be registered as either an Adult or Child Nurse or a Midwife with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). This registration must be re-validated every three years. Neonatal Nurses may complete additional training available from certified providers such as the Royal College of Nursing and the NHS. The NMC maintains a database of institutions and courses that meet with their quality standards, including programmes in different nursing specialisms. 


Neonatal Nurse salary expectations

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Neonatal Nurse job description FAQs


What qualities make a good Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal Nurses spend a lot of time with families who are suffering from extreme stress, so being an empathetic and reassuring person is ideal. They also need to be incredibly well-organised in order to contribute effectively to the team. Neonatal Nurses should be supportive of their fellow Nurses and able to ask for support themselves when needed, as the role can be very stressful.


What is the difference between a Neonatal Nurse and a NICU Nurse?

Neonatal Nurses typically care for newborns until they are a few weeks old and they often care for babies that are perfectly healthy and thriving. NICU Nurses care for babies in intensive care or other specialist units and typically work only with babies that are critically ill.

How can you make your Neonatal Nurse job description stand out?

Include details of the responsibilities of the role, focus on the aspects of the job that make it different from similar positions. If there are any perks to the role such as a season ticket loans, on-site nurseries or childcare vouchers, indicate this in your job description. 

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