becoming a neonatal nurse

'Neo meaning new and natal meaning birth'  refers to the neonatal period - the first 28 days of life.
Preterm and sick neonates are cared for in neonatal units, requiring specialised neonatal nursing care. There is emphasis on the provision of individualised, neuroprotective, developmentally and culturally appropriate, family-centred care.

The neonatal nurse is a registered nurse and/or midwife who through study and practice becomes an expert in the care of the preterm or sick neonate. It can be a challenging role, but is immensely rewarding and exciting.

Neonatal nurses work in a variety of areas and their role encompasses clinical, educational, managerial and research aspects. The role also integrates with other roles relating to maternal and child health and is practiced in a variety of settings. Work areas include, but are not limited to, special care unit/nursery (SCN)/ special care baby unit (SCBU), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), postnatal ward, neonatal emergency transport/rescue units (NETS/NeoRescue), or in the community.

How to become a neonatal nurse in Australia

  • Undertake registered nurse and/or midwifery training and/or become registered to practice in Australia
  • Contact hospitals in your area/city who have a neonatal unit and ask how they manage their recruitment and training for neonatal nurses
  • Employment in a neonatal unit is required before undertaking postgraduate studies in neonatal nursing
  • Each state and territory has different requirements, so please enquire at your local level 

Neonatal nursing postgraduate programs

Many Universities and the Australian College of Nursing have graduate certificate/postgraduate neonatal specific courses. As requirements and course details may change from time to time, please seek information direct from providers.

The following list is a guide and is not exhaustive

  • Australian Catholic University (ACU), ACT: website
  • Australian College of Nursing (ACN), NSW: website
  • Curtin University (CU), WA: website
  • Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide: website 
  • James Cook University (JCU), Queensland: website
  • La Trobe University, Victoria: website
  • Women’s and  Children’s Hospital (WCH) Adelaide: website
  • University of Tasmania (UTAS), Tasmania: website
  • University of Technology Sydney (UTS), NSW: website

To assist in your decision you may want to access the Standards for higher education which can be found at http://www.teqsa.gov.au/

ACNN accepts no responsibility for changed or incorrect information.

Updated 01 January 2020