I have a cousin who just started at a NICU and she absolutely loves it. She went to school for neonatology and found work quickly thereafter. I think you would only be focused on advanced research if you were pursuing a pHD or a higher program in a pediatrics grad department. That's certainly an interesting road to pursue, but probably not necessary to find a job at a NICU "off-the-bat." Of course, that higher level of research can certainly help placing you higher in a position in an NICU down the road. Conferences and the like are mandatory to CME's, as mentioned above, and no matter how much research you do, you'll be going to those on a yearly basis.
It's a fascinating path to pursue and I hope that you'll excel to the highest degree!