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Careers In Nursing: Labor and Delivery

  • Synopsis: 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. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Michael A. Morales.
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Nursing 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.

These include:

Antepartum Nurse

The antepartum nurse cares for patients who have pregnancy complications which force them to be hospitalized.

Circulating Nurse

Circulating nurses handle care in the operating room when a cesarean section is being performed.

L&D Nurse

L&D Nurses care for patients in labor who may or may not have delivery complications.

Nursery Nurse

The nursery nurse cares for newborn infants in the nursery.

Postpartum Nurse

The postpartum nurse cares for patients after delivery.

Scrub Nurse

The scrub nurse directly assists the surgeon during a cesarean section.

L & D Nurse Requirements

Education 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.

General Qualifications

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.

Practice Settings

L & D nurse positions are found primarily in hospitals. Other settings in which they practice include clinics, physicians offices, and maternity and birthing centers.

Compensation

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

Advancement Opportunities

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:

Pap smears

Breast examinations

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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