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Becoming a Neonatal Nurse

'Neo meaning new and natal meaning birth'  refers to the neonatal period - the first 28 days of life.
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 cared for in neonatal units. 

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 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.

It can be a challenging role, but is immensely rewarding and exciting.

Neonatal Nurses advocate for the provision of individualised, neuroprotective, developmentally and culturally appropriate, family-centred care.

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 15 April  2020