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What can I do to work towards my goal of become a neonatal nurse?

I live in Texas and will be going to University after summer for nursing. I wanted to know if I should maybe look into a summer program. It will also be helpful to list recommendations on what I can do over the summer and what I can do overall along my journey.

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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Malaika,

To achieve your ambition of becoming a neonatal nurse, here are some practical steps:

1. Acquire Appropriate Education:

Join a nursing program at a well-regarded Texas university, ensuring it offers neonatal nursing courses or specializations. Consider joining summer programs focused on nursing or healthcare to broaden your knowledge and skills.

2. Obtain Clinical Experience:

Seek opportunities to volunteer or work in healthcare environments, especially those involving newborns or infants, such as hospitals, clinics, or community health centers. Try to secure internships or part-time roles in neonatal units for direct experience and a glimpse into the daily tasks of a neonatal nurse.

3. Develop Essential Skills:

Work on enhancing your communication and interpersonal skills, vital when interacting with patients, their families, and healthcare teams. Sharpen your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, necessary for delivering high-quality care to newborns in critical situations.

4. Network and Find a Mentor:

Establish connections with neonatal nursing professionals through networking events, conferences, or online platforms like LinkedIn. Aim to find a mentor who is a seasoned neonatal nurse to guide, advise, and support you throughout your career journey.

5. Keep Up-to-date:

Stay abreast with neonatal care advancements by reading research articles, attending seminars or workshops, and joining pertinent professional organizations. Continually educate yourself on the latest best practices and technologies in neonatal nursing to upgrade your skills and knowledge.

6. Get Ready for Licensure and Certification:

Get acquainted with the licensing requirements for registered nurses in Texas and any extra certifications required for neonatal nursing. Begin early preparations for licensure exams and certification tests to ensure you fulfill all the necessary qualifications to practice as a neonatal nurse.

By adhering to these guidelines and maintaining commitment to your goal, you can pave your way towards becoming a successful neonatal nurse.

Top 3 Credible Sources Used:

1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN): AACN offers valuable information on accredited nursing programs, educational resources, and professional development opportunities for aspiring nurses. Their website provides insights into various nursing specialties, including neonatal nursing.

2. National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN): As a leading professional organization dedicated to neonatal nursing, NANN offers resources, education, and networking opportunities for nurses specializing in neonatal care. Their website provides access to guidelines, research articles, and industry updates relevant to neonatal nursing practice.

3. Texas Board of Nursing (BON): The Texas BON oversees nursing practice in Texas. Their website provides information on licensing requirements, scope of practice guidelines, and updates on regulations affecting nurses in Texas. Aspiring nurses can find essential details about becoming licensed as a registered nurse in the state through this credible source.

GOD BLESS!
James Constantine.
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Raquel’s Answer

To become a neonatal nurse you need to attend a nursing school and get a license. You stated you're going to university this fall, that sounds like you're attending a 4 year university so I'll provide information specific to that. Your first two years of school will be filled with taking required prerequisite courses for nursing school. You should schedule an appointment with your academic counselor to make a plan on what classes you'll take and when. You can research on your own and also work with your counselor to determine what prerequisite courses your schools nursing program requires. Each school can vary, but generally requirements include general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, anatomy & physiology, statistics, and microbiology along with the standard math and English courses. Typically, the semester before you want to start nursing school, you'll apply to the program. Schools require an entrance exam, either the HESI or ATI-TEAS exams are the two I know of. You'll need to learn what the average GPA and entrance exam scores are for your program to know how you need to be performing. Some schools require/prefer volunteer and leadership experience so that's another thing to look into. You can reach out to the admissions department of your universities nursing program to get more specific information and create a plan for the next two years. Once you get into the program, you'll have another two years within the nursing program where you'll learn both practical and clinical knowledge. After you graduate you'll need to take the NCLEX licensing exam. Once you pass the NCLEX you will be a licensed Registered Nurse. With this license and your degree you'll be qualified to work as a neonatal nurse. Some hospitals don't take any new grads into a specialized field like that, so it's important to find out what your local hospitals policies are. If you can't go straight into being a neonatal nurse, you can get a few years of experience working on a general medical or surgical floor before then transferring to neonatal nursing.
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Gabriel’s Answer

Hello, Malaika! Full disclosure, I've worked in financial aid for over twenty years. But...life experience has shown me this might help...

Do you know someone who works in that specific field? They would be your best resource. If not, if you or your parents have a friend...or even a friend of a friend...who works at a hospital...ask them. They may not be the person who has the answers, but they may know someone who can advise you or answer questions. It beats randomly calling and trying to get an appointment with an administrator who doesn't have to deal with the day-to-day. I applaud your passion and focus.

You said you're going to University...if you have one picked out...ask your college admissions counselor. If there is a dean or senior faculty-member that can help...they will find them and put you in touch. I had a dean who came to Saturday orientations and made herself available...unpaid...because she believed in her position and cared about it. And she knew I majored in accounting...but she always thanked me for sending a kid her way.

Unless triage in the E.R. is going on, I have yet to meet a medical professional/EMT...that would not answer questions or want to guide someone in their pursuit. And again...I majored in accounting...

Hope this helped, a little at least. You got this!
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Nikki’s Answer

You could get a jump on your general education requirements over the summer like English.

Find a method of studying that really works for you if you haven't already. It's also really imporant to find methods of organizing your time and managing your stress. Nursing school will push your limits and having these skills already will take the edge off.

But truly I'm going to recommend just enjoying your summer between high school and college. Nursing school is tough. You'll be really busy working to keep your grades up to get in and then afterwards you'll be overwhelmed with learning and clinicals.

Stay out of legal trouble. Don't get a DWI or anything of that nature while you're having fun because you will get background checks fairly often to get licensed and employeed. While it isn't impossible to work as a nurse with some legal issues, it is sooooo much easier if it doesn't happen at all. Have fun but safe fun!
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