Children's Hospital Colorado
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program and Fellowship

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, our neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) ensure that the smallest patients receive the best care. Our NNPs have the expertise and experience to lead advanced care of newborns and work collaboratively with our entire care team and providers across our communities. We are providing the highest level of care to critically ill newborns in our care and bringing that expertise closer to home for numerous Colorado families.

What is the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program?

Our NNPs provide dedicated neonatal care across Colorado’s Front Range region. From the most complex care in our Level IV NICU on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora to specialized care at partner Level II and III NICUs and SCNs around Colorado, our NNPs are a critical part of our neonatology team.

Our NNPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) trained at the master’s or doctorate level and are board-certified by the National Certification Corporation. Our growing team of over 100 NNPs provide dedicated care to thousands of newborns annually. We collaborate with attending neonatologists and specialists throughout our organization, as well as pediatricians, family medicine doctors and neonatologists across the state. We do so through physician collaboration and a unique working environment that combines strong professional autonomy with exceptional technological capabilities.

In our NICU on the Anschutz Medical Campus, NNPs care for critically ill preterm infants and assist with high-risk deliveries. In our partnered community sites, our NNPs care for critically ill infants and those with minor complications, while also attending high-risk deliveries and collaborating with local providers. And we provide this care 24/7.

We bring our expertise to the communities and allow patients to stay close to home while receiving the care they need. Outside of the care provided to neonates and their families, the NNP team also partners with individual site leadership to help educate their support staff on the most up-to-date practices of neonatal care on an ongoing basis. Our goal is to elevate neonatal care and NNP practice in our hospitals and across Colorado.

See where we provide neonatal care:

NNP Map

What is the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Fellowship?

If you are a recently graduated neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) looking to transition into practice, you have the opportunity to do so under the guidance of some of the most accomplished NNPs in the country. The Children’s Hospital Colorado NNP Fellowship is the first NNP fellowship in the country accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Our NNP fellowship is a one-year program that helps NNPs transition to practice in one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. Our fellowship is designed to facilitate the transition of a recent NNP graduate from a master’s or doctoral student to a competent and confident NNP. Fellowship graduates then join the Children’s Colorado NNP Program, which supports neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and special care nurseries (SCNs) throughout Colorado’s Front Range region.

The fellowship incorporates precepted clinical practice, educational content, clinical lab and simulation instruction, evidence-based practice project guidance, peer-support and mentorship. We hope to promote life-long learning in NNP practice and aim to recruit and retain top NNPs to the Children’s Colorado NNP Program.

This process allows new NNPs to work and learn in a clinical setting while obtaining all their requisite licenses and credentials. It also creates a more consistent and formal process to prepare NNPs to confidently lead care on their own in a NICU or other nursery.

What to expect from the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Fellowship

Our competency-based curriculum combines classroom learning with hands-on experience in clinical and lab settings.

Precepted clinical experience

In Phase I, experienced NNPs provide one-on-one precepted experience for NNP fellows in clinical practice for 16 to 20 weeks. Most often, NNP fellows are practicing under a unique job description during Phase I and must be directly supervised by a board-certified, fully credentialed and privileged NNP. At the completion of Phase I, NNP fellows should be able to function independently in our NICU on Anschutz Medical Campus, or NICUs at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital or UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital (or a combination of sites depending on individual circumstances, learning and staffing needs).

Mentored clinical experience

During Phase II of the NNP Fellowship, which lasts until the end of the fellowship, the NNP fellows provide care at their assigned clinical sites with reduced patient loads. The NNP fellows always practice at a site with an experienced NNP who is in-house and available for clinical decision support and mentorship. In the final months of the NNP Fellowship, NNP fellows gradually begin to challenge themselves by incrementally taking more patients with the goal of managing a full patient load at the completion of NNP Fellowship.

Classroom instruction

NNP fellows meet monthly for classroom instruction, procedural skills labs, high-fidelity simulation and debriefing experiences, evidence-based practice guidance and focus group discussions with the NNP Education Team. The core curriculum focuses on the needs of high-acuity neonatal patients, clinical reasoning, communication skills, role transition, ethical decision-making and leadership abilities. We incorporate additional content into each NNP Fellowship based on the cohort’s needs.

Evidence-based practice project

NNP fellows complete an evidence-based practice (EBP) project of their choosing with support from an EBP expert and mentor. Fellows present their projects via poster and podium presentation just prior to graduation from the NNP Fellowship.

Mentorship

In addition to clinical practice and EBP project mentorship, our NNPs help fellows meet their professional development goals and engage in the Children’s Colorado community. Recognizing the benefit of mentorship across the career span for all NNPs, the NNP Education Team plans to expand mentoring resources in the future to provide team members with the partnership they need to nourish engagement and promote their own growth and development.

Work schedules and placements

The NNP Fellowship is a full-time position requiring an average of 40 hours a week including nights, weekends and holidays. Weekly hours vary to accommodate both education days and clinical time. The NNP education team and lead NNPs develop a schedule that best meets the fellow’s learning needs and the experienced NNP’s availability.

NNP fellows receive the same paid time off and health and retirement benefits as all Children’s Colorado advanced practice registered nurses. NNP fellowship cohorts start in the summer. We admit fellows depending on the need and availability of positions in the NNP Program. Once fellows graduate from the program, they transition to early career NNPs in our NNP Program.

Requirements prior to program start date:

  • Graduation with a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing from an accredited NNP program within 12 months preceding the fellowship start date
  • Current Colorado RN license and current or pending Colorado APRN and Prescriptive Authority license
  • Successful board certification by the National Certification Corporation as an NNP
  • Current AHA BLS and NRP
  • Successful completion of all Children’s Colorado employment requirements

How to apply to the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Fellowship

The following items are required to complete the application process:

  • Statement of intent: Applicants should submit a one-page, 12-point font, double-spaced statement describing their career goals and reasons for pursing the fellowship. Include future career plans and how they might be enhanced by additional training in the fellowship.
  • Curriculum vitae: Provide a current CV indicating your education background, professional experience and other relevant information.
  • Three letters of recommendation: Include one letter each from a clinical preceptor or graduate nursing faculty member, manager/supervisor from a current or previous position and an APRN and/or physician who is familiar with your work.
  • Application submittal: Please submit complete applications to Jessica Benes, NNP Clinical Manager, via email: Jessica.benes@childrenscolorado.org.
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