Prenatal Nurse: Salary, Duties and Requirements
Nurses looking to specialize in prenatal care can become perinatal nurses or nurse-midwives. Perinatal nurses and nurse midwives provide patient care during both the prenatal period of pregnancy, including labor, and during the postpartum period following childbirth.
Job Duties of Perinatal Nurses and Nurse Midwives
Both perinatal nurses and nurse midwives care for pregnant women during the prenatal period (before birth), during delivery and after delivery for up to the first few weeks of the baby's life, Prenatal duties in particular include ordering tests and interpreting lab results, performing physical examinations, monitoring fetal development and instructing prospective parents in various childbirth techniques. They often provide support and comfort during the birthing process. Postpartum care can include instruction in mother-child bonding and supplying appropriate care to the newborn. While these two types of nurses have similar duties, perinatal nurses are more apt to assist obstetricians with high-risk pregnancies while nurse midwives tend to assist with routine pregnancies and will contact the obstetrician if complications arise.
Education Requirements for Perinatal Nurses and Nurse Midwives
Nurses aspiring to specialize in perinatal nursing or as a nurse midwife must have a post baccalaureate degree. Master's degree programs in either field are available, as are advanced certificate programs for nurses with a master's in another area of nursing. In order to earn a Master of Science in Nursing in one of these specialties, one must hold, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in nursing and be a licensed registered nurse.
Certification as a nurse midwife is available for advance practice nurses who want to work in this particular field. In order to be certified, applicants must pass a written exam provided by The American College of Nurse Midwives.
According to O*Net (online.onetcenter.org), nurse midwives earned an annual median wage of $38,490 in 2009. While O*Net offers no specific salary information for perinatal or prenatal nurses in particular, registered nurses earned an annual median wage of $63,750 in 2009. Annual income can vary, however, depending on experience, certification and work setting.
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