Best Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs

As a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP), you will fill a very important role in the healthcare industry by providing care to babies who are sick, injured or premature in a variety of settings. NNPs primarily work in hospitals across the country, and they earn an average annual salary of $113,270. If you are interested in becoming an NNP, the following information about the top neonatal nurse practitioner programs will help you make better choices about your education and your career path.

Degree Options Available to Become NNP

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Program Cost: You will pay anywhere from $9,660 to $91,110 to complete an MSN-NNP program depending on school and program type you choose.

Program Length: After you have earned your BSN, it takes an additional two years to complete an MSN program. Online NNP programs will offer you more scheduling flexibility and may even allow you additional time to complete them.

Curriculum: The curriculum associated with neonatal nurse practitioner programs contains core MSN courses such as pharmacology, physiology, and nursing leadership as well as some courses that focus more specifically on neonatal care, including Advanced Neonatal Nursing Theory, Applications of Genetics to Healthcare, and Advanced Neonatal Embryology. You will also participate in practical training, likely in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, during which you will work with infants under the supervision of physicians and experienced NNPs to demonstrate your new skills and abilities.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Program Cost: To complete the longer and more complex DNP-NNP program, you can expect to pay tuition totaling anywhere from $14,400 to $134,700.

Program Length: The average program length ranges from three to four years if you have already earned your BSN. You will have more flexibility if you choose online or hybrid programs.

Curriculum: Much of the curriculum is the same as the curriculum associated with an MSN, but there are additional courses. These include Diagnosis and Management, Health Systems and Policies, and Evidence-Based Practice. These courses prepare you to be a top-level NNP and give you the information you need to work in management and leadership roles. Once again, you will need to participate in clinicals in order to prove your knowledge, but the exact number of hours varies from state to state and from program to program.

Following are the 10 Best Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs - 2020

1. University of Alabama - Birmingham, AL

Program Type

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

2. Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NC

Program Type

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

3. Stony Brook University - Stony Brook, NY

Program Type

Master of Science Program: Neonatal Health Nurse Practitioner

Advanced Certificate Program: Neonatal Health Nurse Practitioner

4. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing - Philadelphia, PA

Program Type

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

5. University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL

Program Type

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program: Neonatal NP

DNP Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

6. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA

Program Type

MSN Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Post-Professional Certificate Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

DNP Program: Neonatal (BSN to DNP) & Neonatal (MSN to DNP)

7. Rush University - Chicago, IL

Program Type

DNP Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Postgraduate Certificate Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

8. The University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston, TX

Program Type

MSN Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

9. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) - Chicago, IL

Program Type

DNP Program: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

10. University of Louisville - Louisville, KY

Program Type

DNP Program: Neonatal (BSN to DNP)

NNP Board Certification

The only certifying organization that provides the NNP credential is the National Certification Corporation, or NCC. First, you will need to work a minimum of two years as a registered nurse (RN) and pass an MSN or DNP program that places emphasis on neonatal care and meets NCC requirements. You will also need to provide proof that you have completed a minimum of 500 clinical hours through a board-approved program. Then, you will need to register for your NNP examination through the NCC, pay the exam fees, schedule your testing date, and pass the rigorous exam.

CertificationCertifying BodyLink
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC)National Certification Corporation (NCC)

What does NNP Do?

The American Academy of Pediatrics distinguishes four different NICU levels, each providing a different level of care. Your NNP duties will vary significantly depending on the NICU in which you work. The higher the level, the greater the scope of practice and the more responsibilities you will have.

Level I NICUs (Basic Newborn Care):

If you work in a Level 1 NICU, you will provide basic care in a hospital nursery. A Level I NICU provides healthcare to infants born at 35 weeks’ gestation or beyond and is equipped to perform neonatal resuscitation, as well. You may also help to stabilize infants born before 35 weeks’ gestation and process their transfer to a higher-level NICU.

Level II NICUs (Intermediate Neonatal Care):

A Level II NICU provides more specialized care to infants born at 32 weeks’ gestation or more and who weigh more than 1500 grams. If you work in this sort of facility, you will help infants who are moderately ill but not expected to need urgent subspecialty care.

Level III NICUs (Subspecialty Newborn Care):

If you work in a Level III NICU, you will assist in keeping infants on continuous life support and providing comprehensive care for the critically ill or especially premature. Infants born prior to 32 weeks’ gestation who require round-the-clock and long-term monitoring often spend may spend great deal of time in Level III NICUs.

Level IV NICUs (Regional NICU;

Highest Level of Neonatal Care): Finally, as an NNP working in a Level IV NICU, you will assist in providing the highest level of neonatal care to at-risk infants. You will provide incredibly sophisticated care using the newest technologies available in the medical industry, and you will also look after infants who are recovering from various neonatal surgeries.

NNP Scope of Practice

Your scope of practice as an NNP will vary depending on the state in which you live and your workplace. You will obtain health histories from infants’ parents and caregivers as well as collect the family’s health histories; collaborate with neonatologists, surgeons, and others to develop long-term care plans when required; stabilize and transport sick infants to higher-level NICUs; obtain consent for surgeons and other procedures from caregivers and parents; write orders for diagnostics and medications for infants in your care; perform patient rounds; collaborate with physicians in other disciplines related to your own; and manage your own case load of patients.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Salary

The average neonatal nurse practitioner salary is $113,270 a year, which is equal to roughly $54.46 an hour or $9,440 a month. This salary is much higher than salaries associated with other healthcare professions due to the responsibilities you will have on the job. NNPs who have several years’ experience earn much more than those who have just entered the workforce, and if you work in a large metro


NNP Job Outlook

The nursing profession is expected to grow rapidly between now and 2026, and nurse practitioners (along with their subspecialties) will have an excellent job outlook as a result. Between 2016 and 2026, the employment of nurse practitioners in general is expected to grow by 31%. As the population increases, more and more babies will be born across the country, and these babies will need access to qualified healthcare professionals. NNPs fill an important gap between doctors and nurses with their broad scope of practice, which makes them ideal caregivers in NICUs, maternity wards, and pediatricians’ offices nationwide.

Important NNP Organizations

1. National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NANNP): The National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners addresses the unique issues faced by NNPs. By becoming a member, you will gain access to comprehensive education that not only helps you push your career forward, but also counts as continuing education credits. You will also become part of a NNP community and have the opportunity to join advocacy forums where your voice can help define your scope of practice and set new standards in your profession.

Best Nurse Practitioner Schools in Your State