Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

The Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) program will prepare you to deliver comprehensive care to ill and convalescent neonates and infants.

Do you have two years of nursing experience with high-risk newborns? Are you ready to take the next step? This rigorous program will prepare you to deliver comprehensive care to ill and convalescent neonates and infants.


What Will You Do as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?

As a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), you will care for pre-term and full-term infants who are critically ill, growing and have chronic conditions. You’ll become an expert in neonatal care, managing the care of newborns and infants, while working with parents and families during times of stress. You will work both independently and in collaboration with the health care team in acute and non-acute settings to assess, diagnose, manage and evaluate the health care needs of infants and neonates.


Where Will You Practice?

The Neonatal Nurse Practitioner has opportunities for practice in Levels I, II, and III neonatal centers – both during your Vanderbilt program and upon graduation and certification:


  • Level I – Newborn Nursery
  • Level II – Intermediate Care Nursery
  • Level III – Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery

How Will Vanderbilt Prepare You for Practice?

The Vanderbilt School of Nursing offers an exciting, rigorous NNP program intended for self-directed students who want to take on the challenges of advanced practice nursing within a neonatal population with special needs. You will be provided with in-depth content about embryology, neonatal physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology and family dynamics using a developmental approach. Emphasis is placed on current management strategies and the establishment of evidence-based practice. You will also learn about developmental care, pain management and well-baby care. Content is presented using case presentations, web-based, hands-on and problem-focused learning.


Faculty in the Vanderbilt NNP program are experts in the field of neonatology. They include neonatologists, NNPs, a certified respiratory therapist, geneticists and specialists in the areas of pediatric surgery, endocrinology, neurology and pharmacology. In addition, students are taught the Ballard Gestational Assessment by Jeanne Ballard, MD, the developer of the tool.


Your clinical experiences will range from the care of neonates at the time of delivery to those with acute illnesses requiring neonatal intensive care. Sites for clinical experiences are located in primarily tertiary sectors of the health care system. Upon graduation, the Vanderbilt NNP students are prepared to take the National Certification Corporation exam (NCC), to assume entry-level roles as neonatal nurse practitioners and to contribute to the advancement of the nursing profession and discipline. Several graduates of the Vanderbilt program have obtained a perfect score on the NCC NNP examination.


Practice Experience Requirement

The equivalent of two years (4,160 clock hours) full-time, recent (within the last five years) RN practice experience in the care of critically ill newborns/infants. Part-time students must have 2 years of experience in an NICU before starting clinical courses.


Modified Class Schedule

The NNP specialty program is one of several specialties at Vanderbilt School of Nursing offered in a modified learning (block) format that allows RN students to attend graduate school without having to relocate or give up employment.


Through distributed course delivery methods, courses offered in blocks of time on campus (including weekends), online conferencing, and clinical practicum placement in your home area where possible, you can earn your MSN degree without being away from home for extended periods. Due to State Boards of Nursing and/or State Higher Educational rules, the School may not be able to provide clinical placements in your location of choice, but every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate your placement request.