“Registered nurses (RNs) perform many jobs. RN’s provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members”(Registered Nurse). A NICU nurse works to give care to newborns in intensive care units and their parents. These nurses have to meet requirements to become a registered nurse and then get experience in intensive care or in an icu before moving into a position as a NICU nurse. Neonatal nurses provide health care that focuses on care for infants who were born prematurely. These nurses are registered nurses who specialize in working with newborns with abnormalities. Abnormalities that babies suffer from are birth defects, infections, or heart deformities. Many neonatal nurses work in NICUs, to provide medical care to babies at risk. Neonatal nurses are also responsible for a variety of tasks, from bathing the babies to giving medications. Each shift in the NICU, are responsible for one to four babies, each with different needs and challenges. Many work with the same infants until they are able to leave, but some may provide home care. Those with more advanced certifications work in surgical teams and assist in high-risk labor and delivery situations. Neonatal nurses are required to have time management skills, because they might work with more than one baby at a time. They should be able to communicate clearly with others, and be able to provide healthcare updates to parents and family members who may not understand medical terms. Other skills include decision-making, critical thinking, and the ability to teach parents how to best care for newborns facing health issues. In order to become a neonatal nurse you must be a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing. Certification by your State Board of Nursing is required. You can also receive a certification by a National Certification Corporation. Some jobs require a certain number of years of clinical experience in a hospital. A degree in BSN takes up to three to four years, unless already certified as an RN. Meanwhile a degree in RN-BS can take around two years minimum. Steps to become a NICU nurse, first it is necessary to complete your undergraduate education; colleges offer associate degrees in nursing, which are usually two year programs, in universities they offer bachelor’s degrees, which are four year programs. Second step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination to receive a state license. Step three is to consider enrolling in a graduate or doctorate program. With a complete master’s degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in neonatal nursing you can become a NICU advanced practice nurse. The next step would be to complete any necessary training, training starts during school in skills labs and real-world clinical settings. This training may take six weeks to three months, depending on a nurse’s experience and requirements. Some neonatal nurses are required to have certification as part of their employment. (Neonatal Nurse ¶19). Keeping certifications and license active is the sixth step, nurses can do so by continuing education credits and verifying active experience, further training after graduation and while working is required. Neonatal Nurse Specialist Career Outlook, the more training, certifications and experience a nurse has, the more demand there will be for the skill.”According to Payscale, neonatal nurses make a median salary of $59,598, while neonatal nurse practitioners earned $92,259. Individuals who earn certifications or an advanced degree can potentially earn more salary. Average Part-time Tuition Per Semester is $9,082 for an MSN major in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner”(NICU SALARIES). Those seeking better chances for advancement in nursing can become a neonatal advanced practice nurse by earning master’s degree.Workplace assigned to a NICU is based on the type of care provided and the extent of technology available. Level 2 NICUs are for less ill babies who require help in breathing, help with feedings, or need special medication. This level 2 is in special care nurseries located in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Level 3 NICUs are usually found in large children’s hospitals. They have babies who need advanced care, including respiratory support, diagnostic and imaging studies, and access to medical specialists. Level 4 NICUs provide the most care for ill or premature babies; care they provide, is advanced life support and surgery. Usually NICU nurses work eight to twelve hour shifts. These nurses are sometimes required to work all day and night or a combination of both. They have to work holidays, weekends and sometimes even overtime because of how hospitals are opened every day of the week for 24 hours. “Advanced practice registered nurses work primarily during the day, but their presence and expertise may be required at any time”(NICU Nurse ¶9). Neonatal nurses have other career opportunities to get into within their field. “Neonatal RNs can opt for a graduate education in an advanced practice specialty. Alternately, they may work in leadership, education of families and other staff, or in research”( Neonatal Nurse ¶21). Degrees when exploring degree plans include; Diploma in nursing, it takes two to three years, RNs train on the job in the hospital students receive college credit for coursework. Another degree, Associate degree in nursing which takes two to three years. “The majority of nurses today enter the field with an Associate Degree in Nursing. ADN programs take about as long as a diploma program to complete. However, you’ll graduate with a recognized degree, which makes it easier to continue your education later”(Neonatal Nurse ¶30). Bachelor of science in nursing, also another degree to branch out within, takes 4 years just for a first busing degree. “A BSN degree offers the most career opportunity and flexibility for RNs. BSN-prepared nurses can practice in almost every RN specialty. Hospitals and health systems strongly prefer a bachelor’s degree, especially when hiring neonatal RNs”(Neonatal Nurse ¶37). A degree in master of science in nursing takes two to three years beyond bachelor’s level. “In the neonatal setting, this usually means certification as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner”(Neonatal Nurse ¶46). Beyond the master’s level is the doctor of nursing practice, this takes one to two years. “The DNP is the top degree for nurses who wish to pursue clinical practice rather than research and teaching”(Neonatal Nurse ¶55). Becoming an NICU Nurse would be a fulfilling career that has the ability to bring benefits to both the nurses life and the lives of the babies. Passion for babies and caring for babies are great reasons to draw toward a career in neonatal nursing.