What is a Nursery Nurse

What is a Nursery Nurse

If you have a drive to help others, an interest in health care, and a way with babies and infants, you could be the ideal nursery nurse. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about working in this profession.

What is a Nursery Nurse?

A nursery nurse is usually a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) who provides medical care for newborns and infants. As the title suggests, nursery nurses usually work in hospital nurseries, but some work in outpatient care centers or private residences, providing in-home care for sick infants. Nursery nurses can also be categorized as neonatal nurses or pediatric nurses, depending on the age group they serve.

What Does a Nursery Nurse Do?

Nursery nurses perform many of the same duties as adult care RNs and LPNs, including:

  • Administering treatments, medications, tests, and procedures
  • Assisting physicians
  • Creating or updating patient care plans
  • Educating patients' families about proper home and follow-up care
  • Maintaining patient records

Because they tend to newborns and infants, nursery nurses must often provide non-medical care, such as changing soiled diapers or soothing colicky babies. Other duties depend on the nursery level in which they work.

Types of Hospital Nurseries

While all nursery nurses provide newborns, infants, and small children with medical care, some duties vary by setting. Here are descriptions of the three different levels of hospital nurseries, as defined in the Guidelines of Prenatal Care by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Level I Nursery: In this setting, nursery nurses care for newborns who are healthy and born without complications. Because more hospitals encourage mothers to room-in with their babies, many nursery nurses who once tended to Level I nurseries now provide in-room care.
  • Level II Nursery: In a Level II nursery, nursery nurses provide intermediate care to newborns facing an illness or medical complication, such as premature birth. Because their patients are a bit higher risk than those in Level I nurseries, Level II nursery nurses may provide special care, including oxygen supplementation, IV administration, and more.
  • Level III Nursery: In a Level III nursery, nursery nurses care for newborns battling more serious medical conditions. Patients include small, premature, or potentially ill babies. Nursery nurses working in Neonatal Intensive Care Units must typically learn to use special equipment, such as ventilators and incubators.

Some nursery nurses don't work in hospital nurseries at all, choosing instead to care for young children in outpatient care centers, private physicians' offices, or in private residences.

What Type of Environment Do Nursery Nurses Work In?

Like most RNs and LPNs, nursery nurses tend to work in hospitals providing round-the-clock care, so they may work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Those working in outpatient care centers may have more regular hours. In either case, many nurses must work long shifts, spending a great deal of time on their feet. The work can be stressful and emotionally taxing, particularly when caring for very sick newborns and infants. However, many nurses find caring for infants extremely gratifying.

Nursery Nurse Salary

Nursery nurses are usually RNs, so their earnings fall in line with their adult-care peers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for RNs in May 2013 was $66,220, with the top ten percent of earners bringing in $96,320 and the bottom ten percent earning $45,630. States paying the highest annual mean wage to registered nurses in 2013 were California ($96,980), Hawaii ($85,380), and Massachusetts ($83,720).

LPNs, who receive less training, earned a median annual salary of $41,920 in 2013, with the top ten percent earning $58,020 and the bottom ten percent bringing in $31,300. States paying the highest annual mean wage to licensed practical nurses in 2013 were Connecticut ($54,690), Alaska ($54,010), and Nevada ($53,490).

Nursery Nurse Career Information

The future may be bright for nurses of all types. The BLS projects a 19 percent growth rate in RN positions and a 25 percent growth rate in LPN positions between 2012 and 2022.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Registered Nurses, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-1
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-1
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013," Registered Nurses, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013," Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
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