NICU NPs need more training

May 1, 2009

How qualified does a nurse practitioner have to be to work in the NICU?

How qualified does a nurse practitioner (NP) have to be to work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?

More qualified than many who current work in there, according to the National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners’ new policy statement. The NANNP says that too many undertrained NPs are doing work that needs specialized training and experience.

“Nurse practitioners who are not educated as NNPs [neonatal NPs] and are working as nurse practitioners in NICUs are functioning beyond their scope of practice.” The position statement goes on to explain that advanced-practice nurses, such as NPs, are trained for comprehensive primary care. For the NICU, only specialized training in acute care for the infants will do.

Groups like the American Association of College of Nurses and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties have defined core competencies for both family nurse practitioners and pediatric nurse practitioners. NANNP wants a similar emphasis to be placed on the neonatal aspect of the job, so acute care can be held to the same high standard that various primary-care fields are.