Requirements for NICU Nurse

Requirements for NICU Nurse are essential to becoming a qualified professional.

So step on board for a short discussion of Requirements for NICU Nurses and how they will be your friend during this difficult time.   As professionals, they are their to assist, discuss and make this event as meaningful as it can be.   In an overview of NICU Nursing, Lisa Davila explained: 

"Most NICU nurses work as staff RNs. They are responsible for total nursing care of infants who may be diagnosed with congenital defects, delivery complications, or most often, prematurity. They formulate nursing care plans; and assess, plan, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of treatments in these plans. On a daily basis they administer medications, perform complex procedures, work with complicated technology, and consult with an interdisciplinary healthcare team to coordinate all aspects of a patient’s care. In the midst of all these tasks, they comfort their patients, and educate and reassure families."

Twins going to NICU
NICU Staff

NICU Nursing and Physicians are checking out my grandsons.

NICU Nurses hooking up wires
NICU Nurses give oxygen

The day of the NICU Nurse is filled with outstanding accomplishments to keep all babies, your grandbaby and and healthy!   Thank you!

NICU Staff
NICU Warming Bed

NICU nurses may work in one of two types of NICUs. Level II NICUs are designed for less critically ill infants, who may require breathing assistance, help with feedings, or special medication. These units are usually found in community hospitals.

Level III NICUs are located in large medical centers and general-care children’s hospitals, and house infants who need the most high-tech and sophisticated care.

Registered Nurses or RN's who work as staff nurses in Level II NICUs may care for up to three or four patients at a time; whereas in Level III NICUs the nurse-to-patient ratio is usually 1:1 or 1:2.  Our grandsons were in a Level III NICU setting. 

Of course, you may ask....why are NICU Nurses different from any other nurse?   Please watch the YouTube video below and see if it answers some of those questions!

 Requirements for NICU Nurse
What it means to be a NICU Nurse?

Why are NICU Nurses different from

any other nurse?

Regardless of the NICU level, crying infants, noisy machines, and the presence of doctors, specialists, therapists, ancillary staff, administrators, and family members make for a somewhat noisy and busy working environment for the NICU Nurses.   

Requirements for NICU Nurse


A college degree is required to be an RN. While it is possible to work as a staff NICU RN with a two-year associate’s degree from a community college, employers prefer nurses with four-year bachelor’s degrees to work in this highly specialized environment.

APRNs are educated in graduate programs that take two or three years. Most of these programs result in a master’s degree, but according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, many are changing to Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs and a DNP may eventually be the standard terminal degree for all APRNs.

Requirements for NICU Nurse


Before working in a NICU, most nurses need some prior experience and training in a general pediatrics area or another ICU setting. The mastery of basic nursing skills is essential to adapting to the fast pace and complexity of a NICU. Training for NICU nurses is provided on the job, with six to eight weeks as a typical training duration. Some NICUs may hire new nursing graduates (especially those with bachelor’s degrees) and in that case, training may take three months or so. All new NICU RNs are trained by nurses with solid NICU experience.

APRNs are trained in graduate school, but employer-specific training is usually necessary for several weeks under the guidance of another APRN or a nursing supervisor.

 Requirements for NICU Nurse
Licensing and/or Certifications

Licensing and/or Certification

After successful completion of a nursing educational program, nurses need to pass the state-administered NCLEX examination to get their registered nursing license. An RN license is necessary before starting work and it is also a prerequisite for entry into an APRN program.

Staff NICU nurses have certification options through several organizations including the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Eligibility for certification is possible after a few years of NICU experience and successful completion of an exam. APRNs have mandatory certification requirements for employment eligibility.

Requirements for NICU Nurse
Skills and Qualities

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Requirements for NICU nurses must be skilled observers of infant behaviors and know how illnesses affect patients and families. They must also posses the following qualities and skills.

  • Be fast analytical thinkers in order to make appropriate treatment decisions and deal effectively with emergencies.
  • Have well-developed stress management skills as NICU work is demanding and can be rough on the psyche—especially when a nurse has to deal with a poor prognosis, a patient’s death or cases of neglect and abuse.
  • Be flexible because a nurse’s patient caseload may change from day to day.
  • Be skilled communicators and educators, particularly when teaching families how to care for an ill infant.
  • Pay attention to detail—precise documentation is a large part of NICU nursing, and sometimes adding special touches to a care regimen can bring great comfort to patients and their families.

Requirements for NICU Nurses

Outstanding Trophy

Opportunities for Advancement

With some experience behind them, NICU staff nurses may become charge nurses or supervisors. With additional education they may move on to specialty nursing roles within the NICU such as discharge planners or advanced practice nursing careers.

APRNs may choose to sub-specialize in a particular type of neonatal care such as cardiology, respiratory illnesses or prematurity. They may take their NICU experience with them and go into education, research, consulting or healthcare administration.

Future Growth

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the registered nursing profession will experience a 26% growth until at least the year 2020. This is due in part to a large number of nurses who are expected to retire. NICU nursing careers at all levels will be readily available due to the fact that NICUs across the U.S. are expanding to meet the need for care of infants who have better chances of survival than in previous years.

Requirements for NICU Nurses


Additional sites that will be useful to you in locating NICU Nurse Requirements and Certifications are listed below:

NICU Nursing

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

NCLEX examination

American Nurses Credentialing Center

U.S. Department of Labor

Find more grandparenting ideas online at our Home Page Grandparenting Essentials 

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