Whether you’re already a parent or you simply fawn over the babies you pass at the supermarket, you’ve probably known for a while now that working with little ones is your calling. To you, there could not be a more rewarding career than helping these innocent babes make their way in the world by ensuring that their health is a top priority.
But what type of nursing path should you pursue? There are a variety of different types of nurses who work with babies and, from an outsider’s perspective, the differences between them can seem a little fuzzy.
If you have a passion for working in the medical field with the hopes of helping infants thrive, you’ve come to the right place. We compiled the details of three common nursing careers with the hope that this guide will help you choose the right path for you.
3 career paths for aspiring nurses who want to work with babies
1. Labor and delivery nurses
Job description: Labor and delivery nurses help welcome new babies into the world. They care for women during labor and childbirth and monitor the infant and mother during the process. They also help coach mothers and assist doctors throughout the stages of giving birth by administering medicine, aiding in inducing labor and timing contractions.
These types of nurses can be found working in hospitals and physician’s offices, as well as in community clinics.
Important skills and characteristics: Just like any other nurse, it’s important for a labor and delivery nurse to be detailed, thorough and organized. These types of nurses must be quick on their feet, stay calm during high-stress situations and tout an extra dose of empathy. Since giving birth can be an extremely emotional experience, it’s important that labor and delivery nurses can soothe and calm, while staying firm when the going gets rough.
Education and training: Labor and delivery nurses must graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Taking elective courses in labor and delivery as an undergraduate will not only help you determine if this nursing specialty is right for you, but it may also give you an edge when you’re applying for jobs.
After you graduate, it’s important to work as an RN for some time to get a little experience under your belt. The last thing on the checklist is earning the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) certification through the National Certification Corporation.
2. Neonatal nurses
Job description: Neonatal nurses enter the equation after a baby is already born. This type of nurse specializes in the care of newborn infants. They may care for perfectly healthy infants, provide more focused care for premature or ill babies or work specifically with one seriously ill infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Some babies have respiratory problems or serious nutritional needs that can be life threatening, and a neonatal nurse can care for these types of infants around the clock.
These types of nurses often work in high dependency and special care infant units in hospitals, while other nurses work in the community with families whose babies have recently been discharged from the hospital.
Important skills and characteristics: Since neonatal nurses work with high-risk patients, it’s important that they’re able to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation and IV therapy. They also must be able to work with specialized equipment such as ventilators and incubators. As with all nursing professions, it’s important to stay calm during an emergency, and it’s crucial to be detailed, as well as compassionate.
Education and training: A neonatal nurse must first graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). After that, you’ll need to get certified by the State Board of Nursing in Neonatal Resuscitation and/or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing. Depending on where you work, you may also be required to work for a few years in a clinical or hospital setting to gain some experience prior to working with infants.
3. Pediatric nurses
Job description: Once babies are discharged and begin living and developing at home, pediatric nurses provide care for them as they grow into adolescents. They provide routine primary care services such as health maintenance and exams, developmental screenings and vaccinations. They also treat illness or injuries when they occur in children.
Important skills and characteristics: As with all jobs for which working with children is the primary duty, it’s important to be able to roll with the punches, improvise and keep kids calm. Aside from all the organizational and relational skills required of RNs, a special emphasis communicating with children and helping them feel safe and cared for is always a plus.
Education and training: In addition to the requirements for becoming an RN, a pediatric nurse should then take an exam to become a certified pediatric nurse (CPN). Certification is required in some states and suggested in others. Pediatric nursing hopefuls should also plan on gathering experience working with kids before landing a position.
How will you make your impact?
You now have a basic understand of three common types of nurses who work with babies. After familiarizing yourself with each, can you picture yourself treating precious little patients in one of these positions?
If you’re looking for more information on the specifics of these nursing career paths, consider learning more about how to become a labor and delivery nurse, researching what it's like being a neonatal nurse, or reading up on the ins and outs of pediatric nursing.
- 8 Great Nursing Specialties with Exciting Earning Potential
- Types of Nursing Degrees: Diagnosing Your Ideal Healthcare Career [Infographic]
- 20 Types of Nurses Employers Are Looking to Hire