What is the difference between Neonatal Nurse Practitioner & Neonatologist

What is the difference between Neonatal Nurse Practitioner & Neonatologist?

You might have heard about the terms neonatal nurse practitioner and a neonatologist. I am sure just like the others; you must have thought them to be the same. In this article, I will highlight the difference between Neonatal Nurse Practitioner & Neonatologist.

Yes, they do sound identical, and both are healthcare providers for the newborns, but carry majorly distinct roles from each other but are majorly different.

To understand the difference from the core, let us first have a sneak-peek about what does the term ‘Neonate’ means.

Neonatal relates to the earliest month of a person’s life. The 28 days to a 1-month-old newborn is called a ‘Neonate.’ The word Neonatal comes from the combination of two words, neo and natal, where the Greek word neo means “new” and the Latin word natal means “to be born”. There is also a well-known term, Neonatal Disorder, which requires Neonatal Care, in which the Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNPs) majorly specialize.

Let’s move further and understand the difference between the two.

The Neonatal Nurse Practitioners are responsible for the intense care of a newborn child. Whenever a new child is born and requires emergency care due to any health issues, either mild or severe, the Neonatal Nurse Practitioners come into rescue. They are required to perform a quick action to bring the newborn to the NICUs center and provide them with continuous medical support.

While, on the other hand, the Neonatologists are responsible and trained to cure the most critical situation of a newborn. They are there to assist with the treatment and cure if a baby is premature or has some serious health issues. They can also identify the problem before the baby is born and can consult the obstetrician of the women during her pregnancy.

How they differ based on education

The Neonatology Nurse Practitioners begin from registered nurses. They obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and then go for a master’s or doctorate program. They go for specified tracks in Neonatology or enroll for a two-year advanced practice Neonatal NP program.

Read more about how to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

But the education received by the Neonatalogists is different from Nurse Practitioners. The Neonatalogists are medical doctors. They become doctors after completing medical school for four years, residency for three years, and a neonatology fellowship for three years. They also need proper certification from the National Board of Pediatrics and by the Sub-board of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine.

What duties do Neonatal Nurse practitioners carry out?

  • They monitor the center’s equipment like ventilators and incubators and also perform diagnostic tests as Blood draws.
  • They provide medical and informative support to the child’s parents regarding Neonatal care.
  • The Neonatal Nurse practitioners provide medications in collaboration with a physician’s advice.
  • They further ensure the intense care of the newborn and advise parents with the care and feeding instructions.

Read more about the duties of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in my article What does a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner do?.

What duties do Neonatalogists carry?

  • The Neonatalogists diagnose the before birth problems and assist the obstetrician with the treatment measures.
  • They test and treat the severe health situation of a newborn like dysfunctionality, physical or respiratory disorders, etc.
  • They take proper measures for the feeding and nutrition of the newly born and also provide health care to the child in the delivery room. This is in case there is a medical issue with the mother, which can cause harm to the child.
  • They take immediate action and ensure that the child receives proper treatment for healing.

Difference between Neonatal Nurse Practitioner & Neonatalogist

Overall, it can be said that NNPs and Neonatalogists have a similar background. Still, they carry a different educational base, have a different scope of practice, a completely different approach, and duties.