Transition to the neonatal nurse practitioner role: making the change from the side to the head of the bed

Neonatal Netw. 2002 Mar;21(2):21-8. doi: 10.1891/0730-0832.21.2.21.


Role transition is never easy, but is complicated by the experienced neonatal nurse's frustration with reverting to a student role and becoming a novice practitioner, sometimes after years of developing a reputation as an expert nurse. This article discusses this transition, focusing on the skills needed to move successfully from nurse to nurse practitioner. Common to all advanced practice transitions are stages similar to those Benner identifies in her novice-to-expert theory of nursing practice. Feelings of frustration and inadequacy are common during the first year as an NNP. Studies focusing on role transition and role development suggest that a strong nursing identity is important for success in the NNP practice environment. Strategies to enhance the transition are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Career Mobility
  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Nursing, Graduate / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Nursing*
  • Nurse Practitioners / psychology*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Staff Development / methods
  • United States