Perinatal Nurse Practitioner
Once you obtain certification to work as a nurse, there are several specialties you can choose from for your practice. One of them is perinatal nursing – which stands for providing healthcare for mothers during pregnancy and aiding in their recovery after birth. Earning an annual median wage of over $90,000 as of 2013, nurse midwives are constantly in demand and receive income based on their certification, work environment and experience. If you are compassionate, self-assured and you can connect with patients easily, then this career opportunity might be for you.
Job Duties for Perinatal Nurses and Nurse Midwives
An employee in this nursing position offers healthcare to mothers during pregnancy and ensures a straightforward labor – with no severe complications. Teaching mothers all about pre-natal health and what to expect from carrying a baby, nurses offer instructions regarding relaxation and breathing methods and interact with family members to advise them on being supportive and prepared. In order to work as a perinatal nurse, you have to be well-trained and familiarize yourself with basic principles and medical procedures that are crucial for adult and children healthcare.
As a perinatal nurse, you will assist in the delivery room, prepare women for childbirth and offer reliable techniques, manage any pre-natal health issues and track the progress of mothers and their pregnancies. In addition, you will provide care for women going through labor, counsel family members, treat high-risk patients and help patients learn the ropes of taking care of an infant. You will also have to order tests and interpret lab results, monitor fetal development, as well as perform regular physical examinations. After childbirth, you will offer postpartum support – care for the newborn and instruct on child-mother bonding. Whether you work as a perinatal nurse or a nurse midwife, you will help pregnant women during and after delivery – up to the first few weeks following childbirth. However, while midwives are usually only involved with routine pregnancies, you are much more likely to be assigned high-risk pregnancies and assist obstetricians during delivery if you are a perinatal nurse.
What to Expect from a Career in Perinatal Nursing
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn a median income of over $68,000, whereas advanced practice nurses (like nurse midwives or perinatal nurses) earn $92,230, as they have more experience and knowledge. If you’re interested in perinatal nursing, here are a few specialties or certifications that you can pursue – low risk neonatal nursing, certified-electronic fetal monitoring, inpatient obstetric nursing, maternal newborn nursing and neonatal intensive care nursing. Either way, your practice will involve various work environments, from obstetrical clinics and physicians’ offices to labor and delivery units. There are also antepartum and postpartum units within hospitals and adult education centers, where you will teach future mothers about childcare, as well as conduct delivery classes for couples. You can also become involved in community health centers or handle clinical instructor duties and teach prospective nurses about your specialty.
How Do I Obtain Certification as a Perinatal Nurse Practitioner?
Nurses aspiring to specialize in the perinatal specialty must own a nursing diploma and provide certification for their practice. Aside from being a licensed nurse, you also have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and begin working as a Registered Nurse in order to gain experience. After working either in a hospital, private practice or any other clinical setting, you can earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. When it comes to the perinatal specialty, you have different study options that can prepare you for a Master’s in nursing – you can train to work as a Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or a Nurse Practitioner.
What You Will Learn in an MSN Program
In order to join a perinatal MS program for advanced practice in nursing you have to provide a BSN degree, complete an application, have a minimum of 1 year experience, as well as a GPA of 3.0 or higher. In addition, you need 3 references, professional liability insurance (PLI), credentials in basic life support (BLS) and a professional RN license. Here are some of the courses that you will cover in a regular Master’s curriculum – Health Policy and Advocacy, Pathobiology, Pharmacology, Applications in Clinical Nursing Research, Advanced Health Assessment, Quality Improvement, Safety and Health Care Technologies. Aside from these, you will have classes that pertain specifically to the perinatal specialty, including Primary Care, Advanced Theory and Clinical Practice in Perinatal Health Nursing.
Finding the Right Perinatal Nursing School
If you’re a nurse practitioner, then you should look for a BSN or MSN program that’s focused on advanced perinatal nursing. You can also consider the Perinatal Nurse Specialist program, which covers women’s care and family medical care. If you’re worried about funding your studies, then look for the Financial Aid office at your university and contact the staff there. You can also try applying for federal loans or submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to receive a grant. In some states, there are independent scholarships that might be available.
When it comes to licensing, the National Certification Corporation (NCC) has accreditation for Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioners. Additionally, you can take a specialized exam if you have a master or a doctoral degree earned after 2005 from a nursing program to receive certification. The test involves both neonatal and perinatal topics, as well as basic knowledge regarding disease prevention, professional issues and pharmacology. Another option for accreditation is the National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NANNP).
If you are a certified NP in perinatal nursing, you can consider applying for special designation to attest that you have board certification within your nursing specialty. To receive this, you have to pass a written exam, own a current professional RN license, as well as have 24 months’ worth of experience in perinatal nursing. Here are some widely-known perinatal schools that you might want to look into further – Alabama A&M University, Arizona Western College, Chapman University, Columbia College of Nursing, Georgia Health Sciences University, Iowa State University, Metropolitan State University, Portland State University, Sanford Medical Center and South Florida State College.