In nursing school you will have a chance to do some hands on training with every major service line in nursing. Like for example you will have a clinical experience for medical/surgical, mental health, obstetrics/pediatrics, ICU/ER. . .
Once you graduate school, whether ADN or BSN and you look for a job: most hospitals have New Grad training programs or they are willing to hire/train new grads. All newly hired staff go thru an orientation process, not just to the hospital for policy and procedures but also for their discipline and service line.
As far as what Sue mentioned regarding APNs and their functions: most require certifications in their given specialty and they also get hands on training in school.
Take for example an MSN (masters of science in nursing) APN (advanced practice nurse) who is a FNP (family nurse practitioner). They have that special certificate. They are trained. And can do things like perform physicals, do Pap smears, remove skin tags, remove staples and stitches, write prescriptions under their supervising doctor, and the like.
If it is a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) they can intubate and sedate patients during surgery. This is also a Masters level degree, but their certification specializes in anesthesiology. They also must complete a number of hands on hours (clinically) and have orientations once hired to a hospital.
So I hope this clarifies more.
Education - Neonatal nurse must be educated about normal infant conditions and development as well as congenital problems, illness, and prematurity. They receive hands-on instruction in technical skills such as managing a ventilator or an intravenous line or how to provide support and care to an infant just after delivery. They learn how to suction secretions from an infant’s mouth and nose, insert a urinary catheter or manage a preemie on oxygen. NICU nurses also learn emergency techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Advanced Procedures - Advanced practice nurses learn other skills that reflect their wider scope of practice. An APN in a NICU might place intravenous or central lines in an infant to allow fluid and medication to be administered. She might also learn to intubate, which means placing a small plastic tube into the baby’s windpipe to help him breathe or to deliver oxygen. APNs also learn to perform a lumbar puncture, a procedure in which a small needle is inserted into the baby’s spine to obtain samples of fluid to test for infection or measure the pressure in the spinal column.
Certification - certification is not required to become a NICU nurse, many institutions prefer to hire nurses who are certified. Nurses might also take the certification exams to ensure their knowledge and competency. Neonatal certification is available from the National Certification Corporation and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Nurses who are certified must recertify every five years by retaking the exam or completing continuing education relevant to the practice of neonatal intensive care nursing.
Do your research, talk to those who work in the field to get a sense of what a day in the life of an NICU nurse might be like. Ask what they like most and what might be the most difficult part of their job. Need to understand all aspects of the job, in order to make the right choice for yourself.