The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is launching a new Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) program in fall 2014, the only one of its kind in the state of Georgia, according to a Jan. 17 University press release.

NNPs are a special group of registered nurses who are trained as primary, acute and critical care advanced practice nurses, said Terri Marin, interim specialty coordinator for the program.

The School of Nursing previously offered a similar NNP track until 1998, when a lack of faculty forced the program to close, according to Marin.

The program is four consecutive semesters in length and requires 780 hours of clinical practice at all Emory-affiliated neonatal intensive care units and outpatient clinics, according to the University press release. Registered nurses who graduate this specialty master’s program become skilled in performing comprehensive assessments, diagnostic evaluations and symptom and disease management for babies and infants up to age two, according to Marin.

In addition to those responsibilities, the NNP program focuses on health promotion, ethical considerations, parental counseling and education to promote optimal infant and toddler development, Marin said.

According to the program website, students learn multiple aspects of advanced nursing practice from an evidenced-based approach, including the roles of educator, researcher, consultant and advocate.

Marin said a combination of workforce needs, community needs and national assessment led to the rebirth of the track.

“Statistics show a supply to demand deficit [in NNPs] that is only growing larger,” Marin said. “The opportunity for NNPs to fill this void neonatal care is evident.”

– By Stephen Fowler