A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is an intensive care unit specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. The first official ICU for neonates was established in 1961 at Vanderbilt University by Professor Mildred Stahlman, officially termed a NICU when Stahlman was the first to use a ventilator off-label to assist a baby with breathing difficulties.
A NICU is typically directed by one or more neonatologists and staffed by nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, resident physicians, and respiratory therapists. Many other ancillary disciplines and specialists are available at larger units. The term neonatal comes from neo, "new", and natal, "pertaining to birth or origin".
A pediatric nurse checking recently born triplets in an incubator at ECWA Evangel Hospital, Jos, Nigeria Healthcare institutions have varying entry-level requirements for neonatal nurses. Neonatal nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs), and therefore must have an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Some countries or institutions may also require a midwifery qualification. Some institutions may accept newly graduated RNs who have passed the NCLEX exam; others may require additional experience working in adult-health or medical/surgical nursing.
Some countries offer postgraduate degrees in neonatal nursing, such as the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and various doctorates. A nurse practitioner may be required to hold a postgraduate degree. The National Association of Neonatal Nurses recommends two years' experience working in a NICU before taking graduate classes.
As with any registered nurse, local licensing or certifying bodies as well as employers may set requirements for continuing education.
There are no mandated requirements to becoming an RN in a NICU, although neonatal nurses must have certification as a Neonatal Resuscitation Provider. Some units prefer new graduates...
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