Best Neonatal NP Programs for NICU Nurses

According to the March of Dimes, the preterm birth rate dropped to a 15 year low for the year 2013. Despite this fact, the United States still has the highest rate of prematurity of any industrialized nation.  While there has been an improvement in prematurity rates, there is still a need for Neonatal Nurses (NICU Nurses) and Neonatal Nurse Practitioners due to the preventable and unpreventable causes of preterm birth. Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNPs) are Registered Nurses that obtain higher education to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). Since many neonatal nurse practitioner students work as a bedside nurse for at least part of their NNP program, they often complete their degree online. The online format usually works best for graduate students as it offers flexibility for the student’s lifestyle.

Here are 5 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner programs that offer an online curriculum:

#1 University of Texas Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington’S College of Nursing has a MSN degree NNP program for full time and part-time students. With an online class format and locally arranged clinicals, their residency requirement includes coming to campus twice during the program.

#2 University of Missouri-Kansas City

UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies has a NNP program that is completely online with a locally arranged preceptor at a Level 3 NICU. Originally established by the U.S Public Health Service in 1998, this distance format program requires 45 credit hours.

#3 Northeastern University

Bouve College of Health Sciences offers an online NNP program that recommends at least two years of NICU experience as a nurse for admission. Their program is 43 credit hours.

#4 Rush University

Rush University’s NNP program is completely online with clinicals arranged locally (if certain requirements are met) or at various sites in Chicago. They use the case study format with small classes for optimal learning. Their graduates, over the last 5 years, had a 100% pass rate on the NNP National Certification Exam.

#5 Arizona State University

ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation offers a hybrid-online program Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) with over 500 approved clinical sites. Residency requirements include twice a semester. The end of the program includes an Evidenced Based mentored Applied Clinical Project to be completed by students.

Before Applying to NNP School

Being a NNP is a rewarding but stressful job. Most of them work in a critical care setting. This means that infants are routinely critically ill, have various medical conditions, and some do not make it out of the hospital. NNPs are responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating infants while being part of a medical team that makes life and death decisions. Here are things to consider before applying to a NNP program:

  • Do you thrive under pressure? Some people freeze, while others operate at their best in stressful situations. Most critical care nurses thrive under pressure, or they transfer out of critical care areas if they do not enjoy the high paced environment. If you have issues dealing with the stress of being a NICU nurse, do not pursue NNP school because this role adds more responsibility.
  • Do you have more than one year experience? While some NNP programs may admit students with one year of experience, do yourself a favor and gain several years of experience in a Level 3 NICU before applying to a program. It does matter if you have been a Medical Surgical Nurse for 10 years, you need more than 1 year of NICU experience before attempting to function competently in NNP school. NICU nursing is highly specialized and most of the knowledge and skills are not directly transferable to other areas of nursing. Besides, admission is extremely competitive, so several years of experience should help your program application stand out.  
  • Carefully research and compare NNP programs before choosing a school. Have you researched differences between programs such as tuition, and accreditation? Read this article for other practical considerations when choosing an APRN program.

Ultimately, if your personality is the right fit with Neonatal Nursing, then becoming an NNP can be a great career move that enables you to make a difference in the lives of infants and their families. If you are considering making a career decision to become a NNP, be sure and click the school links above.

Did you find other online NNP programs during your research process? Or, are you currently enrolled in one? Be sure and leave your comments below. 

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