How to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?

Specialties Advanced


Specializes in Medical- Surgical.

I am currently in my first semester at a Community College.

I recently decided that I want to become an NNP.

I don't know how to go about doing that though.

Can anyone give me steps or something that would help?

Basically I know I need to get my Bachelor's.

But then can I get a Master's to become an NP, then specialize in Neonatal?

Or do I have to go into a special program for NNP?

You would need to complete a graduate program (MSN or DNP) with a neonatal nurse practitioner concentration/focus, and you would need (at least) two years (full-time) of experience as an NICU staff nurse to be eligible for a graduate program (that is a requirement of the organization that accredits NNP graduate programs, so it's the same at all schools).

Soooo, you would need to get licensed as an RN, get a staff nurse position in an NICU and work at least two years there, get accepted to and complete an NNP graduate program, and then pass the national certification exam.

Best wishes for your journey! :balloons:

Specializes in Medical- Surgical.

Thank you.

Before I decided on Neonatal I was just heading toward a NP.

My plan was to finish at my CC, then transfer to Stanislaus State and get my Masters there.

Is there any way to get my Masters, then specialize in Neonatal?

Or do I HAVE TO go from Bachelors to a NNP program? (After gaining the experience)

It's not clear to me what you're asking. NNP programs are Master's programs (or, now, there are probably some DNP programs available). What do you mean by "get my Master's, then specialize in Neonatal"? Do you mean get a different MSN first? It's possible to do that; you could get a Master's with a concentration in something else, and then complete a post-Master's certificate to become an NNP -- but why bother to do that if you already intend to become an NNP? That would be a whole lot more school (and time, effort, and $$$) than necessary.

You have to complete an NNP program (MSN, DNP, or post-Master's certificate) to become a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Are you maybe thinking that an NNP is somehow "more than" or "beyond" other NPs? There's no such thing as being an "NP" without a specialization -- all NPs have a specialty, family NP, acute care NP, psych NP, gero NP, pediatric NP, etc., etc. Neonatal NP is just one of those choices. There's no other, basic NP program that you have to complete first.

I'm sorry I'm probably not being v. clear, but, as I said, I don't really understand what you're asking.

Specializes in Medical- Surgical.

That makes more sense. I thought that when you got your Masters in Nursing you just became a general NP.

I didnt know that you HAD to specialize.

What my plans were is to transfer to Stanislaus State, which is in California, if you didnt know...

I was going to get my Masters in Nursing there.

Then I discovered the Neonatal NP and I only see two schools in California that have programs for that.

So I was wondering do I get my bachelors then go to the special program.

Or if I could get my Masters in nursing and go into like a post masters program.

Because on UC San Franciscos website the NNP program is under the "post-masters" section.

Yes, there's no such thing as being a "general" NP -- all NPs have a specific specialization. There's also no such thing as a "general" MSN degree -- different schools offer different concentrations ("majors"), but you have to specialize in something in an MSN program, whether that's a particular advanced practice specialty, nursing administration, nursing education, or something else -- but all MSN programs offer advanced education in a particular area or aspect of nursing.

As you've found, not many schools offer an NNP program, because they have to have appropriate clinical facilities available to provide a good clinical education for the students.

Your choices would be to go directly into an NNP program (after completing the required nursing experience that is), or get another MSN first and then do an NNP post-Master's certificate. However, again, that would involve getting an MSN you don't want and then completing nearly another whole Master's degree on top of that -- post-Master's certificates are a great option for people who already have an MSN and have now decided they want to change specialities, but I don't really see the point of putting in the extra time, effort, and $$$ into doing both programs when you could get what you want with one graduate degree.

BTW, I looked at the UCSF website just now (because it seemed v. odd to me that a school would have an NNP post-Master's certificate program without having a "regular" NNP program), and it looks to me like they do offer a "regular" NNP program:

"The Advanced Practice Neonatal Nursing (APNN) programs are two-year curricula leading to the Master of Science degree ... Students entering the neonatal specialty may choose either the Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) track."

Pediatric NP, Acute Care Ped NP, and Neonatal Adv Practice Nrsg Masters Specialty Areas - UCSF School of Nursing

(A "two-year curriculum leading to the Master of Science degree" is a regular MSN program -- UCSF may also offer an NNP post-Master's certificate, but they do have the regular MSN NNP program.)

My advice would be to relocate, if necessary, to attend the graduate program you really want (plenty of us have done that!) rather than make do with a degree that isn't going to get you what you want just because it's more convenient.

The other thing I would point out is that many people start out in nursing school, or in their nursing careers, sure that they want to specialize in a particular area and, after they get a little experience and see more of the "wide world of nursing," they find that they're more interested in something else entirely. I encourage you to keep an open mind through nursing school and not get too fixated on wanting to be an NNP. Most people are completely unaware, until they've been in nursing for a while, of the incredibly wide range of career paths and opportunities available within nursing -- many options that folks on the "outside" don't even know exist. :)

Best wishes!

Specializes in Medical- Surgical.

Thank you so much. I was really really confused.

I appreciate you taking the time to explain.

And I will definately keep an open mind, as I am just at the beginning of my journey.

The main reason I needed to know about NNP is because Im doing a research essay on it. And couldnt finish it because I didnt know what I was talking about!

Thanks again. :)

You can get your masters as a nurse practitioner in a specific fields such as family or pediatrics then get your post-masters in neonatal online. Straight Neonatal Nurse Practitioner programs are very hard to find but they are out there, you may have to relocate to get into one. Some that I found are mostly online but you do have to make a few trips to campus each semester, so if you can find one withing a few hours drive you can still do it. Your post masters however can be totally online, so you can take it from a school out of state. Post masters can take about a year to finish. I have been doing a lot of research on the topic because I am interested in the same thing you are. Some online neonatal programs are offered at Vanderbilt in Tenn, UC in Ohio (I keep finding info on various sites about it but can't find it on the UC website and haven't gotten around the calling them), there was one in Louiseville Ky that also had a satellite program in Lexington but they have both discont. the program due to lack of applicants...just keep doing research and you will find what will fit your needs.

Hi so i want to become a neonatal nurse practitioner too! so how do you specialize???


Specializes in Forensic Psych.
Hi so i want to become a neonatal nurse practitioner too! so how do you specialize???


1) Become a nurse.

2) Get a job in the NICU.

3) Apply to a NNP program.

thanks that helps alot!!

Specializes in Forensic Psych.
thanks that helps alot!!

No problem!

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