Neonatal Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice Third Edition : Advances in Neonatal Care

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Clinical Practice Guideline Executive Summary

Neonatal Nursing

Scope and Standards of Practice Third Edition

Witt, Catherine PhD, APRN, NNP-BC

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doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000978
  • Free

In partnership with the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) has published the third edition of Neonatal Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. This updated edition outlines the scope of practice for neonatal nurses, including advanced practice nurses, and updates the standards of practice for neonatal nursing and for professional nursing practice.


The ANA recognizes neonatal nursing as a specialized nursing practice, caring for neonates, infants, and families. The practice of neonatal nursing incorporates not only premature and ill neonates and their families but also older infants requiring long-term NICU care, infants postdischarge, well newborns, and children up to the age of 2 years.1 As such, it is important for the specialty organization to address the scope of neonatal nursing and the standards of practice that include registered nurses at the undergraduate and graduate level and advanced practice nurses.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 neonates is born prematurely.2 Complications of preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital malformations are the leading causes of death in the neonatal period.3


The third edition of the Neonatal Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice recognizes that neonatal nursing includes the incorporation of not only evolving technology but also developmental care, health promotion, culturally competent care, safety, discharge planning, and spiritual care.

The Neonatal Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice addresses the standards of nursing and professional practice with competencies for registered nurses, graduate prepared registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses. The 6 nursing standards of practice include the following: (1) Assessment, (2) Diagnosis, (3) Outcome identification, (4) Planning, (5) Implementation (5A, Coordination of care, and 5B, Health teaching and health promotion), and (6) Evaluation. Competencies for all levels are included.4 The 11 Standards of Professional Performance include the following: (7) Ethics, (8) Culturally Congruent Practice, (9) Communication, (10) Collaboration, (11) Leadership, (12) Education, (13) Evidence-Based Practice and Research, (14) Quality of Practice, (15) Professional Practice Evaluation, (16) Resource Utilization, and (17) Environmental Health.4


All practicing nurses must be aware of the scope and standards of professional nursing care for their specialty. Nurses need to be familiar with the competencies expected in their profession, making this an essential book for neonatal nurses at all levels.

“Neonatal Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice” is now available for purchase in the NANN bookstore at


The following NANN members were lead authors of the revised edition:

Kathryn Malin, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, Chair

Catherine Witt, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, Chair

Karen Kopischke, MS, RNC, NNP-BC

Linda Merritt, PhD, RNC-NIC, CNE

Deidre B. Miller, MSN-Ed, RNC-NIC

Lisa Smotrich, BSN, NPD-BC, CCRN-K


1. National Association of Neonatal Nurses. What is neonatal nursing? Accessed September 19, 2021.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Birthweight and gestation. Published 2018. Accessed September 19, 2021.
3. Murphy SL, Xu J, Kochanek KD, Arias E. Mortality in the U.S., 2017. NCHS Data Brief. 2018;(328):1–8. Accessed September 19, 2021.
4. American Nurses Association. Neonatal Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. 3rd ed. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association; 2021.
© 2022 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses.