Do you have a passion for newborns and infants? A neonatal career can fill that need of yours to help babies that need professional care for complex problems. Here's more information on neonatology and how you can become involved.
What is Neonatology?
Childbirth can often come with some complications. However, some complications are far more serious than others. Neonatal care deals with the diagnosis and treatment of infants that need special medical care. The need for that care can arise from many different problems.
- Premature birth
- Birth defects and injuries
- Breathing difficulties
There's actually a large number of other issues that can send a newborn directly to the NICU after delivery. These issues require specialists and support staff who can handle the emotionally charged and challenging job of treating sick newborns. These are often very hands-on positions that require someone of fortitude.
Neonatology Offers Different Paths
Like many other disciplines, neonatology branches off into various directions. You have options and choices in the field, so you can choose an avenue that appeals to you and your own sense of fulfillment. For example, beyond the direct path to neonatologist, you can consider any of the following paths.
- Neonatal nurse practitioners and staff nurses
- Neonatal occupational and physical therapists
- Neonatal respiratory therapists
- Neonatal social workers
- Neonatal nutritionists
- Neonatal consultant
- Neonatal physician assistants
There's also paths that lead to research and development for neonatal care. Part of the challenge that comes with a neonatal career comes from the constant advancement of knowledge and technology concerning neonatal care.
How to Start a Career in Neonatal Care
Neonatal careers begin as many other medical careers do. Your path will depend on where you want to eventually go with neonatal care.
If you want to become a neonatologist (M.D.), you need four years of an undergraduate program, then four years of medical school. From there you will need to go through three years of pediatric residency, then three years of a neonatology fellowship.
For those that want to pursue neonatology nursing or support positions, you will typically need to follow the career path of a general discipline first. At some point, you will need to take neonatal or pediatric-specific courses or programs.
For example, you would have to already follow the career path towards becoming a registered nurse. After that, you can start the process of transitioning from a general focus to a neonatal-specific one.
Start on a Career Path with a Focus on Neonatal Care
Neonatal care is a serious field that needs serious applicants at every level. The best way to go about neonatal careers is to start with neonatal as a goal from the start. You can find programs and education tracks designed specifically for a neonatal care career. Check with places like Kidz Medical Services for more options.