Careers In Nursing: Labor and Delivery
Author: Michael A. Morales
Published: 2009-02-19 : (Rev. 2010-07-03)
Labor and Delivery Nursing is one of many fields of specialization in which a nursing graduate may choose to concentrate.
Main DigestNursing is a career field that is experiencing extraordinary growth.
While jobs are being lost or curtailed in several industries, nursing is projected to exceed the average growth in all career fields between now and 2016. These promising projections apply to job prospects for both Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs).
Labor & Delivery Nursing
Labor and Delivery (L&D) is one of many fields of specialization in which a nursing graduate may choose to concentrate. L & D nurses are a part of the labor and delivery team that cares for women and their newly born infants.
They assist patients before, during, and after the birthing process in several ways:
Coordinating with physicians to provide the best care plan for each patient.
Monitoring the mother and baby during labor
Teaching mothers how to care for themselves and the new infant
Providing emotional support to the mother and family
Nurses who train to become L & D nurses may assume different roles in that position.
The antepartum nurse cares for patients who have pregnancy complications which force them to be hospitalized.
Circulating nurses handle care in the operating room when a cesarean section is being performed.
L&D Nurses care for patients in labor who may or may not have delivery complications.
The nursery nurse cares for newborn infants in the nursery.
The postpartum nurse cares for patients after delivery.
The scrub nurse directly assists the surgeon during a cesarean section.
L & D Nurse Requirements
L & D nurses must have an RN license with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Associate Degree in Nursing (AND), or hospital diploma. Education in neonatal resuscitation and fetal monitoring is an additional requirement. LPNs interested in this specialty may wish to consider an LPN to RN program which allows them to earn a BSN degree on an accelerated basis.
Critical thinking, communication, and decision making skills are essential to L&D nursing. The job requires the wisdom to assess and prioritize patient needs in an environment that is often rapidly changing and fast paced. Stellar communication skills are also vital for this type of nursing. L & D nurses must communicate with other medical staff members, the patients and the patients families.
L & D nurse positions are found primarily in hospitals. Other settings in which they practice include clinics, physicians offices, and maternity and birthing centers.
In 2006, the median annual earnings for registered nurses was $57, 280. Earnings for the middle 50% ranged from $47,710 to $69, 850. Those in the highest 10% earned in excess of $83, 440. Among industries employing the largest numbers of registered nurses in 2006, the median annual incomes were as follows:
Employment services $64,260
General medical and surgical hospitals 58,550
Home health care services 54,190
Offices of physicians 53,800
Nursing care facilities 52,490
Some L & D nurses wishing to further specialize choose to become neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses or to become Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM).
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurse
NICU nurses specialize in caring for premature infants or full term infants with serious medical complications. Infants in NICU usually suffer from multiple complications and often require medical or surgical intervention. Nurses working in this area must be skilled in the ability to assess and care for these types of infants. NICU nurses care not only for the infants, but also provide education, care, and support to the parents. Hospitals generally staff NICU positions with registered nurses who already have experience in other areas of nursing. NICU nurses are required to complete additional education and training provided by the employer before transitioning into a NICU nursing position. NICU nurses work mainly in hospitals in conjunction with respiratory therapists, neonatologists, and advanced practice nurses. An RN wishing to work as a Nurse Practitioner in this setting must first obtain a Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN) or obtain additional professional certification.
Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses who provide care and treatment to women before, during and after childbirth. CNMs must complete an accredited program of study in addition to obtaining clinical experience in obstetrical care.
They are trained to provide a variety of services which include:
Advising women on matters of reproductive health
Monitoring the mother and fetus during pregnancy
Abdominal and pelvic examinations
Education about childbirth methods
Counseling on infant care and nutrition
When medical treatments and medications are necessary, CNMs work closely with obstetricians or other physicians. CNMs can be credited with helping to reduce maternal and infant death rates in this country. L&D nursing is a broad nursing specialty which offers a wealth of opportunity for long term professional growth.
Reference: Michael Morales is an EMT-Paramedic and program director for Vital Ethics, providing basic and advanced life support training and certification programs to health care professionals www.vitalethics.org/lpn-rn-schools-programs-5.html
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