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What Does a Neonatologist Do?

Leena Palande
What is neonatology? What does a neonatologist do? This story describes the duties and responsibilities of a neonatologist. Read on, if you want to opt for neonatology as a career....
A neonatologist is a physician who specializes in the health care of a neonate, a newly born infant. Neonatology is a branch of pediatrics that is concerned with the illnesses and disorders in newborn infants, and it thus deals with the care of newborn infants.
A pediatrician takes care of the babies after they are discharged from the hospital. Premature babies, newborn babies with health problems are sometimes required to stay in the hospital for several days, or even months. A neonatologist takes care of them.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Neonatologist

Neonatologists usually work in hospitals. Large hospitals have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care baby unit (SCBU), and they appoint neontologists and neonatal nurses to look after the sick newborn babies. Job description of neonatologist involves:
  • Examining and treating the infants suffering from birth defects, injury, illness and life-threatening conditions.
  • Planning the treatment in advance (before the birth of the baby) when there is a known risk that a baby will be born needing care in a NICU.
  • Taking care of newborn babies, sick babies, critically ill babies, and premature babies.
  • Constant monitoring, as most of the sick babies have breathing problems.
  • Handling complicated situations like heart defects, brain malformations, or gastrointestinal malformations in newborn infants.
  • Consulting with other surgeons and referring the patient to them.
  • Prescribing medicines and keeping the record of the patients and the treatments.
  • Lengthy work hours, long shift duties are common for neonatologists. They are supposed to allot duties to neonatal nurses according to the requirement.
  • Informing the parents of sick infants about the health condition and treatment. Also informing them about the extra care, hygiene to prevent infections in infants.
  • Taking care of the nutrition of sick infants, along with medication.
  • Providing assistance in delivering babies that need special medical attention.
  • Providing long term care to premature babies.

Becoming a Neonatologist

Neonatologist's job is one of the highest paying jobs in the field of medicine. If you have a compassionate mind, strong determination, and if you are ready to work hard, then you can become a neonatologist.
It takes about 14 years after the high school diploma to become a neonatologist! (College degree, medical school: 4+4 years, Pediatric internship and residency, Neonatology fellowship : 3+3 years). First, you have to get a degree in medicine, after your basic college degree, and then you can choose 'pediatrics' as the field of specialization.
After getting the license as a pediatrician (after completing the residency in pediatrics), you are expected to complete the three year training program known as 'fellowship in neonatology'. You can work as a neonatologist after getting a certificate from the American Board of Pediatrics.
If you are ready for hard work then, as a neonatologist, you can enjoy a handsome income. Neonatologist salary range may vary according to the location, employer, experience of the person, etc.
Last year, the salary range for neonatologists with one to four years of experience was $131,000 and $172,000 while the salary range for neonatologists with ten to nineteen years of experience was $170,000 and $200,000.
It has been estimated that there would be a good increase (about 15% increase) in physician's and surgeon's jobs from 2018 to 2028. So becoming a neonatologist can be a good career option for young students.
The increased demand for neonatologists is attributed to the constantly growing population and increased number of premature babies and sick infants. Now that you know 'what does a neonatologist do', you can prepare well. Working as a neonatologist can give you immense job satisfaction. It is definitely a noble and rewarding job.