A recent study released by the American Medical Association indicates that the current shortage of NICU nurses across the U.S. correlates with rising infection rates in infants with very low birth weights. Without proper staffing, vigilance and monitoring can suffer. In addition, the increasing amount of sophisticated procedures and new technology is raising the survival rates of NICU patients, but is also contributing to the need for more highly trained nurses to support these trends.
In a separate study, The National Association of Neonatal Nursing reported that there are approximately 40,000 low-birth-weight infants currently born each year in the US. Survival rates for these most vulnerable infants are 10 times better than they were just a decade and a half ago.
Current nurses may increase professional versatility with an “in demand” specialty such as NICU nursing. At the same time, career changers with a desire to build a career in this important area can also enter the field with the right education and experience. All areas of nursing continue to grow and hiring professionals continue to seek out the most qualified candidates to fill top positions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the nursing field will continue to grow at a rate of 16% through 2024. In addition, the median annual wage for a registered nurse working in the United States is $67,490 per year. While most professionals enter the field with a four-year baccalaureate degree, it is possible to obtain an entry level position with a specialized two-year degree. It is recommended, however, to pursue a BSN degree as soon as possible through an RN to BSN degree completion program.
Leaders in the field with advanced education, training and experience can earn $101,630 or more annually. Hiring trends, salaries and work settings will vary due to a variety of factors such as geographic location and regional competition.
For current nurses and career changers interested in pursuing education and professional opportunities as a NICU nurse, there are flexible online programs that can provide the education needed to reach important career goals. Being active in a professional organization and networking through continuing education can help keep skills fresh and relevant in today’s competitive job market.