Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist Job Description, Duties, and Responsibilities

By | October 3, 2023
Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist Job Description
Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialists provide care to infants in medical crises situations.

This post provides detailed information on the neonatal clinical nurse specialist job description, including key duties, tasks, and responsibilities they commonly perform.

It also highlights the major requirements you may be expected to fulfill to be hired for the neonatal clinical nurse specialist role by most recruiters/employers.

What Does a Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist Do?

The neonatal clinical nurse specialist is an advanced practice nurse who functions in the role of expert clinician, educator, consultant and researcher for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, NICU.

The neonatal clinical nurse specialist job description entails monitoring the clinical care of patients and providing support to improve patient care and outcomes in collaboration with the medical and nursing staff.

It also involves providing critical nursing care to infants in crisis and nursing care for a wide variety of medical conditions such as prematurity, respiratory distress, meconium aspiration syndrome, hypoglycemia, hyperbilirubinemia, sepsis, and surgical conditions requiring pre and post operative care.

The category of care these clinical nurse specialists (CNS) render ranges from the acute phase to patient needs or conditions, necessitating close observation and interventions.

They work in hospitals, medical care centers, and critical care settings with NICU, etc.

The neonatal clinical nurse specialist role also entails collaborate with the interdisciplinary healthcare team to provide clinical expertise and education for patient management to ensure successful patient care in the department.

The clinical nurse specialist at the neonatal intensive care unit, NICU, will be a role model and consultant for the team.

They assist patients and provide clinical support to improve patient care and outcomes; and also assist patients, families, staff, physicians, and leadership in providing solutions.

The neonatal clinical nurse specialist work description also involves providing, facilitating, monitoring, and evaluating clinical practice to ensure compliance with standards and professional competence through consulting, counseling, coaching, and role modeling.

Their job requires them to function as consultant and researcher; hence they are available to all nursing units, staff, and clinical managers on a continual basis for consultation on patient care issues, neonatal issues, and problem solving, and to assist with change process.

Their focus is to consistently contribute to the professional development of staff by providing ongoing educational needs to staff, patients, and families.

The carry out development, execution, evaluation, and ongoing supervision of individual and project action plans in order to improve patient care outcomes.

Their duties also include creating policies and procedures; they assess education/training needs and develop and present programs specially-tailored to meet the needs of a multidisciplinary clinical staff.

They analyze complex clinical data and recommend instructional programs to close the gap in institutional clinical knowledge.

They independently plan, organize, and execute special projects and complete projects assigned by CNO or the designee.

They exercise authority and/or may effectively recommend personnel actions, such as hiring, transfers, and corrective action, and participating in job performance evaluations.

Neonatal clinical nurse specialists are required to show respect and regard to the dignity of all patients, families, visitors, as well as employees to guarantee a professional, responsible, and courteous environment.

They work effectively as part of a department/unit team to facilitate the department’s/unit’s ability to meet its goals and objectives.

The clinical nurse specialist also functions as an expert in directing the clinical nursing practice of the NICU population and promotes application of research in the clinical setting.

To work as a neonatal clinical nurse specialist requires in-depth knowledge and skills; it requires a Masters degree in Nursing with a combination of licenses and certifications.

It also requires advanced judgment and evidence of expertise and competency in clinical nursing practice, as well as knowledge of current trends and issues in nursing.

The neonatal clinical nurse specialist is also required to know how to apply staff development and needs assessment techniques, stress control techniques, CQI, and QA methodologies.

In addition to their education and training, they require some role-based competencies to be successful on the job.

They include: critical thinking, strong judgment, communication skills, and teamwork abilities; as well as leadership and mentoring abilities.

The Neonatal CNS serves as a positive role model, bringing professional nursing practice, strong customer service, and influencing abilities.

Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist Job Description Example/Sample /Template

The neonatal clinical nurse specialist performs various functions in ensuring effective assessment, treatment, and evaluation of human responses to actual and potential health problems.

The job description typically performed by neonatal clinical nurse specialists consists of the following duties, tasks, obligations, and responsibilities:

  • Deliver and facilitate high quality neonatal nursing care
  • Improve patient outcomes by developing, implementing, and improving standards of practice
  • Consult and collaborate with other professionals on specific patients with complex needs across the continuum of care
  • Attend daily rounds to support complex patient care
  • Present nursing rounds on complex patient situations
  • Mentor clinical RNs to be present at nursing rounds
  • Conduct independent assessment of patients and their current treatment plans
  • Collaborate on plan of care with physicians, nursing leadership, and clinical staff
  • Organize and lead clinical activities/projects of nurses
  • Create and/or improve patient treatment programs (such as ECMO, CRRT, VAD)
  • Assist clinical RNs with understanding and implementing complex patient care strategies
  • Leader/mentor – improve standards of practice and raise professional awareness through relationships with individuals and groups
  • Educator – collaborate on design, implementation, and evaluation of staff education
  • Advocate- improve patient outcomes by advocating for individuals as well as populations within sphere of influence and area of expertise
  • Consultant – serve as consultant to all disciplines and departments, area of expertise, and patient population
  • Researcher – promote, as well as embed evidence- based practice into nursing care
  • Sponsor and implement bedside nursing research. Support clinical nurses in translating research into practice
  • Present research and best practices at local, regional, and national conferences
  • Publish research findings as well as successes in improving standards of practice
  • Participate on relevant committees and task forces as a clinical expert.

Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist Requirements – skills, knowledge, and abilities for a Successful Career

If you are seeking to work as a neonatal clinical nurse specialist with a healthcare facility, you will be expected to meet certain requirements, which will confirm your ability to carry out the purpose, objectives, and obligations of the role effectively and succeed in the clinical nurse specialist career.

Shown below are major requirements, including skills, knowledge, abilities, educational background, etc. that you should have to be considered for the position of neonatal clinical nurse specialist at most medical facilities:

  • Knowledge: They must possess knowledge of caring for the neonatal population group and acting as a resource to enhance the knowledge base of the Intermediate NICU’s Nursing Staff
  • They must also possess some basic knowledge of the development and physical needs of the pediatric population group and knowledge of adult learning theories and group dynamics. It is also important they have solid knowledge of current nursing techniques, principles, and practices of neonatal intensive care nursing
  • Education: Minimum of Bachelor of Nursing Degree is required but an MSN degree is preferred
  • License: Current RN license
  • Certification: Certification by the State Board of Registered Nurses as a Clinical Nurse Specialist; current certification in Neonatal Nursing Care from a nationally accredited organization (NCC0); NRP- Neonatal Resuscitation Provider required; current BLS-HCP, ACLS, certification
  • Experience: Clinical experience in Neonatal Nursing Care, at least one of which shall have been in a facility with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Experience as a Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is preferred
  • Advanced judgment skills – The work of a CNS is intellectual in nature and the need to consistently exercise a high degree of discretion and independent judgment is required to analyze, deduce, and make inferences from facts and circumstances that differ from case to case
  • Leadership skills: They require this skill to be able to influence the nursing staff and improve practice standards
  • Coaching skills: This skill is important for educating and counseling parents/caregivers as well as the nursing staff
  • Collaborative skills – Must be able to work collaboratively with the Clinical Manager & Director of the NICU to enhance the knowledge base of the nurses
  • Computer skills: They require a strong knowledge of Microsoft office Applications that will aid them on the job
  • Communication skills: They require effective writing and oral communication skills to function as educators, counselors, and consultants.


To hire a Neonatal Clinical Nurse specialist, it is important for employers to publish the job description for interested and qualified people to respond to.

The detailed information provided on the duties, tasks, skills, responsibilities, and requirements of a neonatal clinical nurse specialist in this post can serve as a useful guide for recruiters’ desirous to fill the position of an NCNS to adapt their job description from.

They will be able to make a good description of the job that will greatly increase their chances of attracting the most resourceful candidates to recruit for the position.

This post can also serve as a detailed and complete guide for those who desire to become a neonatal clinical nurse specialist to learn about the duties and responsibilities of the job, as well as what is required to be successful in the career.