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Neonatal Nurse Subject Guide

If you are planning to become a Neonatal Nurse and want to study the topic at a postgraduate level beforehand, this subject guide has everything you need to know about doing so. An important specialism, there are some unique aspects involved in Neonatal Nursing that make studying it immensely worthwhile. Find out what qualifications and courses are available, what sort of modules you can expect to study, how you’ll be assessed and more. 


What is a Neonatal Nurse?

When newborn babies are born prematurely or sick, Neonatal Nurses will provide care for them. This is a specialism that requires specific knowledge of newborn baby physiology, but it also requires compassion and empathy for the families of the babies that they are caring for. Some Neonatal Nurses will work in Neonatal units at hospitals, while others will work in the community with babies that have recently been discharged from hospital. Their duties can include: 

  • Preparing medications 
  • Recording and documenting observations 
  • Responding to emergencies 
  • Communicating care plans with families 
  • Cleaning babies and changing their bedding 

Why do a Neonatal Nurse degree?

Neonatal Nursing is a complex specialism with many of its own unique elements to consider when compared to other specialisms. Training to become a Neonatal Nurse via postgraduate study will equip students with the theory and practical knowledge to effectively care and support babies at a critical time. Courses will also help students to develop their communication skills, as empathetically communicating with families will be a major part of Neonatal Nursing. 

What qualifications can you get?

The postgraduate qualifications available in Neonatal Nursing are mostly master’s courses, along with some GradCert courses. Qualifications will be slightly different in how long they are, and modules taught depending on the university, though all will teach students the expertise needed for the role. 

Master’s in Neonatal Nursing 

Taking a master’s course in Neonatal Nursing will prepare students for many of the complications involved in caring for newborn babies, as well as helping the families involved while at hospital and at home once they have been discharged. These courses allow nurses who are already in the sector to further develop their skills with the addition of the Neonatal Nursing specialism. 

GradCert in Neonatal Nursing 

GradCert courses in Neonatal Nursing are available in Scotland, providing a standardised level of professional expertise in the field. 

What jobs can you do with a Neonatal Nurse degree?  

Many students who get postgraduate degrees in Neonatal Nursing will go on to work in Neonatal Units at hospitals for the NHS. Other professional areas where the skills acquired in these courses would be useful include: 

  • Children’s Nurse 
  • Clinical Studies 
  • Teaching and lecturing 
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing 
  • General Practice Nursing 

What are the Neonatal Nurse degree requirements?

In terms of entry requirements for Neonatal Nursing degrees, you will be expected to have at least an honours degree with a 2.2 grade in a related subject. You will also be expected to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, have a current job in a medical profession and have completed a certain number of hours of professional work before starting the course. 

What Neonatal Nurse courses are there?  

Take a look below at a selection of Neonatal Nursing courses that are available across the different postgraduate qualifications: 

  • MSc Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 
  • Advanced Clinical Practice (Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner) (MSc) 
  • Neonatal Nursing Graduate Certificate 

What do you learn in a Neonatal Nurse degree?

The modules you complete on Neonatal Nursing courses will different between universities. Here are some examples of the modules you might take on your course: 

  • Holistic Neonatal Assessment and Clinical Management 
  • Assessment and Examination of the Newborn 
  • Advanced Neonatal Studies 
  • Neonatal Intensive Care/High Dependency 
  • Independent and Supplementary Non-medical Prescribing 

How will you be taught and assessed?

Neonatal Nursing courses are often taught by developing existing knowledge of nursing with a focus on clinical assessments and examinations. This can involve lectures, online seminars, and independent research. Assessments on these courses can come in the form of examinations, presentations, case studies and coursework. 

How long is a Neonatal Nurse degree?

It can take over a year to complete a postgraduate degree in Neonatal Nursing if studied full-time. Part-time studying for one of these qualifications can take up to three years depending on the institution.  

Similar subjects to Neonatal Nursing

If you’re thinking about studying a subject similar to Neonatal Nursing, consider one of these alternatives: 

  • Children’s Nurse 
  • Child Health 
  • Midwifery 
  • Counselling 
  • Emergency First Aid 

Next: Search for postgraduate Nursing courses


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