Neonatal nurse responsibilities vary, depending on the particular patient and situation. These nurses provide basic newborn care and monitor patients with severe illnesses. NICU units operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with most nurses working 12-hour shifts, including nights and weekends. Not every hospital features a NICU unit, but most large private and public hospitals maintain NICU units.
Neonatal nurses typically only work with a few patients at a time. Infants with more serious medical issues are often seen by the most experienced nurses, who handle just one or two cases at a time, depending on the severity of the baby’s state.
Neonatal care is separated into levels. Most hospitals designate NICU work as level three nursing care since patients in the NICU are in the most severe condition. Level two care is reserved for less serious cases, while level one pertains to the care of healthy babies. NICU nurses work under a set state of laws to define their responsibilities and rights.