Beginning this fall, the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore will offer a neonatal nurse practitioner post-BSN to DNP program. An NNP is an advanced practice nurse who provides direct patient care to pre-term infants, full-term infants, neonates and children up to age 2, according to a news release.
UMSON is launching the new neonatal nurse practitioner specialty in response to a continued need to strengthen the NNP workforce. Education for the NNP role includes competencies specific to the neonatal population. NNP graduates are prepared to function in the NNP role in neonatal ICUs, step-down units, newborn nurseries and developmental follow-up clinics.
“Infant mortality and pre-term birth rates remain high nationally and in the state of Maryland,” Jan Wilson, DNP, RN, CRNP, NNP-BC, assistant professor and NNP specialty director, said in the release. “Unfortunately, recent NNP workforce surveys reveal that for every NNP who graduates, there may be as many as 80 positions that are unfilled. The shortage is compounded by the fact that many of our most seasoned NNPs have 10 to 20 years of experience and will be retiring within the next five to 10 years.”
Students who earn the DNP degree are eligible to take the national neonatal specialty certification exam. Key doctoral requirements include preparation for leadership in nursing and healthcare; preparation for innovative, evidence-based specialized advanced nursing practice; healthcare policy; interprofessional collaboration; and information systems and use of technology in patient care and healthcare, according to the release.
Wilson said it will be the first DNP neonatal nurse practitioner program in the state of Maryland. “We are confident that our graduates will be strategic, collaborative partners in helping to address the many problems faced by this vulnerable population,” she said in the release. •